WOWSA Rules & Regulations


World Open Water Swimming Association events, solo swims and relays operate under the following rules, regulations, protocols, procedures, policies, and definitions.  WOWSA Sanctioning entails compliance with Rules & Regulations in the following categories:







The World Open Water Swimming Association or WOWSA (pronounced wowza) is an international organization dedicated to the support, organization, sanctioning, promotion, recognition and celebration of open water swimmers and open water swimming events.


Through its Daily News of Open Water News and monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine, WOWSA documents and describes swimmers and events held throughout the world and goes into depth about former and recent heroes and heroines of the sport.

WOWSA publishes the world’s most comprehensive global open water swimming calendar and manages Openwaterpedia, the world’s greatest collection of open water swimming data with over 15,000 entries.


Through its administration of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, WOWSA honors swimmers, coaches, pilots, contributors and administrators through the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies that have been held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, in the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland.

Since 2008 through its annual WOWSA Awards, WOWSA organizes public polls that recognized dozens of luminaries, events, products and services in the global open water swimming community through its World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.


WOWSA hosts a variety of open water swimming clinics, seminars, conferences and webinars, both online and in Japan, Fiji, Cayman Islands, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Greece, Mexico and throughout the United States. These include the Global Open Water Swimming Conference and Open Water Swimming Safety Conferences. It also developed a comprehensive online coaching education program with over 300 multiple-choice questions.

WOWSA wrote an open water swimming textbook, entitled Open Water Swimming, published by Human Kinetics and translated into Germany and Polish. It also created the Open Water Swimming Almanac and the Pyramid of Open Water Swimming Success.


WOWSA created brands including the Half Century Club, 24-hour Club, Oceans Seven, Open Water Swimming Magazine, World Swimming Majors, World's Top 100 Open Water Swims, America’s Top 100 Open Water Swims, Asia’s Top 50 Open Water Swims, Africa’s Top 100 Open Water Swims, and World’s Hardest Swims (North Hemisphere + Southern Hemisphere) as well as maintains the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.


WOWSA has assisted with information, articles, data and recommendations on open water swimming to FINA, Canada Swimming, USA Swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming, Mexican Swimming Federation, Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Federation, Special Olympics International, Guinness Book of World Records, Swimming World Magazine, Competitor Magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, National Public Radio, National Geographic Magazine, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association, Farallon Islands Swimming Association, Swimming Australia Magazine, and Triathlon Magazine.


WOWSA collects, datamines and analyzes open water swimming trends and data based on 3 decades of compiling data and demographic information on competitions, charity events, solo swims, relays, marathon swims and relays, eco-swims, stage swims, and professional races, including FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix, and the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.


WOWSA sanctions open water swimming events and serves as an independent observer for open water swims and relays. Under such sanctioning, WOWSA has developed a comprehensive list of rules that are made freely available to interested events and athletes. WOWSA events have been sanctioned in Hawaii, Cuba, Florida, Brazil, Fiji, Cayman Islands, United States of America, Africa, and Japan.

Environmental Friendliness

Through a partnership with the Plastic Disclosure Project, WOWSA offers guidelines to assist event organizers to reduce their environmental impact and minimize their plastic footprint.

Marathon Swimmers Federation

WOWSA supports and endorses the Marathon Swimmers Federation Rules for solo swims in ungoverned open bodies of water.

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