noun - A relay is an athletic competition with more than 1 athlete as part of the team. During an open water swimming relay race like a team pursuit competition, members of a team can take turns (legs) swimming for a specific duration of time or distance. Each individual on the team swims legs on the relay with exchanges or change-overs when one swimmer replaces the other during the course of a relay.
Types of Open Water Relays
- Traditional: an open water swimming relay where the swimmers each swim in order at specific distance or duration of time, usually 6 individual swimmers.
- Carbon-neutral Relay: an open water swimming relay that has a net zero carbon footprint.
- Eco Relay: an open water swimming relay that aims to (1) protect, conserve or call attention to the environment or ecology.
- Freestyle Relay: an open water swimming relay where each swimmer can swim any distance or for any amount of time.
- Team pursuit: a mixed-gender team time trial with 3 or more swimmers who swim together.
- Channel relay: a relay across a channel, generally when 2-6 swimmers swim one-hour legs each in the same order from start to finish.
- Stage relay: a relay where the swimmers complete the course in stages, swimming at least once per day.
- Duo relay: a 2-person relay.
- Trio relay: a 3-person relay.
- Quad relay: a 4-person relay.
- Quintet relay: a 5-person relay.
- Sextet relay: a 6-person relay.
Well-known Relay Swims
- Catalina Channel in California governed by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation
- Molokai Channel in Hawaii governed by the Kaiwi Channel Association
- Maui Channel Swim in Hawaii governed by the World Open Water Swimming Association (race) or the Hawaii Channel Swimming Association (relays)
- Trans Tahoe Relay in California and Nevada governed by the Olympic Club
- Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco governed by the Asociación Cruce A Nado Del Estrecho De Gibraltar
- English Channel between England and France governed by the Channel Swimming Association or the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation
- North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland governed by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association
- Tsugaru Channel in Japan governed by the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association
- Rottnest Channel Swim in Australia
- International Self-Transcendence Marathon-Schwimmen in Switzerland
World's Top 100 Open Water Swimming Relays
1. Rottnest Channel Swim, 19.7 km in Australia
2. English Channel, 33.8 km between England and France
3. Catalina Channel, 32.3 km between Santa Catalina Island and the California mainland, U.S.A.
4. Maui Channel Swim, 15.4 km between the islands of Lanai and Maui in Hawaii, U.S.A.
5. Olympic Club Trans Tahoe Relay, 16.1 km in Lake Tahoe, California, U.S.A.
6. International Self-Transcendence Marathon-Schwimmen, 26.4 km in Lake Zurich, Switzerland
7. Round Jersey, 66 km around the isle of Jersey, United Kingdom)
8. 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim, 45.9 km around Manhattan Island in New York, U.S.A.
9. Baikal Race, 35 km across Lake Baikal in Russia
10. Kotlin Race Swimming Marathon, 25 km across Neva Bay in the Baltic Sea in St. Petersburg, Russia
11. Magnetic Island to Townsville Open Water Swim, 8.5 km in Magnetic Island, Australia
12. FKCC Swim Around Key West, 20.1 km around Key West in Florida, U.S.A.
13. Swim Around Key West, 20.1 km around Key West in Florida, U.S.A.
14. Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, 38.6 km across Tampa Bay in Florida, U.S.A.
15. Beltquerung, 21 km from Denmark to Germany
16. Neva Swimming Marathon, 77 km down the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia to the Gulf of Finland
17. FINA World Swimming Championships Team Relay, 5 km 4-person team pursuit in various locations
18. Tsugaru Channel, 19.5 km from the island of Honshu to the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan
19. Queenford Relays, 4×1 km in England
20. Thames Marathon, 14 km from Henley-on-Thames to Marlow, UK
21. Lake Travis Relay, 19.3 km in Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
22. Fiji Ocean Swim Festival, 10 km in Mamunuca Islands in Fiji
23. Clean Half Extreme Marathon Swim, 15 km from Stanley Beach to Deepwater Bay in Hong Kong
24. Cold Half, 15 km from Stanley Beach to Deepwater Bay in Hong Kong
25. Issyk-Kul Race, 45 km across Issyk-Kul in the deep basin of the northeast Kyrgyzstan
26. 13 Bridges, 27 km along the Neva River through St. Petersburg, Russia to the Gulf of Finland
27. Fiji Swims, 18 km between Denarau, Beachcomber Island and Treasure Island in Fiji
28. Sognefjord Relay Races, 0.2 km in Balestrand, Norway
29. Valaam Swimming Marathon, 20 km from the island of Putsaari to the island of Valaam in Ladoga Lake, Russia
30. Fastnet Relay, 15 km in Baltimore, Ireland
31. Napo’opo’o to Honaunau Swim, 7.2 km in Hawaii, U.S.A.
32. Japan International Open Water Swimming Association, 1.6 km in 14 locations throughout Japan
33. Swim for Freedom, 12.8 km in Wisconsin, U.S.A.
34. St. Vincent’s Foundation Swim Across the Sound, 26 km in Connecticut, U.S.A.
35. La Jolla Cove Swim Club 10-mile Relay, 16.1 km in La Jolla Cove, California, U.S.A.
36. Lake Balhash Race, 32.2 km across Lake Balkhash in eastern Kazakhstan
37. Farallon Islands, 48.2 km between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Farallon Islands in California, U.S.A.
38. World Winter Swimming Championships, 4x25m breaststroke relay in various locations
39. International Ice Swimming Association World Ice Swimming Championships, 4x25m breaststroke relay in various locations
40. Bonaire EcoSwim, 2 km in Bonaire, Netherland Antilles
41. Jersey France Relay, 28.9 km from the isle of Jersey to France
42. Santa Barbara Channel, 19.6 between Anacapa Island and California mainland, U.S.A.
43. Santa Barbara Channel, 30.5 km from San Pedro Point to Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard or 37.8 km from Fry's Harbor to Leadbetter Point on the California mainland
44. Santa Barbara Channel, 44.2 km from Santa Rosa Island to Coal Oil Point in Goleta on the California mainland
45. Steelman Open Water Swim Relay, 4.8 km in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
46. Catalina Island Circumnavigation 61.1 km around Santa Catalina Island in Southern California, U.S.A.
47. Xiamen-Kinman Swimming, 8 km from Taiwan to China
48. Kitsilano Challenge, 6 km in Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, Canada
49. Loch Ore Meadows Scottish Championships 2 km in Lochore Meadows, Scotland
50. 4 Loops 4 Fun 6K Open Water Swim, 6 km in Colorado, U.S.A.
51. Espiritu Santo Aore Swim, 2.8 km in Vanuatu
52. Revéza 10, 13 km in Brazil
53. Travesssia de Itapema 5000, 5 km in Brazil
54. Tumon Bay Ocean Swim, 2.4 km in Guam
55. Pennock Island Challenge, 13.2 km in Alaska, U.S.A.
56. Marathon de la Releve, 16 km in Canada
57. Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim, 13 km in Ireland
58. Ploegen Tijdrace, 500m team pursuit in Netherlands
59. Great Turtle Relay Swim around Mackinac Island, 17.7 km in Michigan, U.S.A.
60. Sitka Sound Adventure Swim, 10 km in Alaska, U.S.A.
61. Minnetonka Challenge, 8 km in Minnesota, U.S.A.
Ultra Long Distance Relays
- 1993: Sun Rice Australia (Sunrice Australia Channel Relay Team) was a pioneering six-man relay from Australia that completed the first 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 43 hours 7 minutes in 1993 with Des Renford as the team's tactician and swimmers Cyril Baldock, Michael Renford, Baden Green, Greg Stewart, Peter Tibbets and Kevin Neilsen.
- 1996: Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race was a 93 km Malta-to-Sicily 4-person open water swimming competition between Australia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary on 19-20 July 1996 that started from St. Julians Bay in Malta and finished at Marina di Modica in Sicily, Italy. The Australian team won in 19 hours 11 minutes and included Melissa Cunningham, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Joe Mitchell and Grant Robinson on 20-minute legs with Chris Guesdon as their manager and tactician. Note: 1996 was the only year of a successful crossing. Both the 1995 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race and 1997 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race were held, but all the participating teams failed to finish. 1st: Australia (19:11), 2nd: Italy (19:15), 3rd: Czech Republic (20:42), 4th: Slovenia (20:46), 5th: Hungary (20:56).
- 2006: Round Ireland Swim was a non-continuous stage relay around the island of Ireland from July to August 2006 covering 1,310 km, a total of 830 miles in circumference over the course of 56 days including a total of 35 swim days by Anne Marie Ward, Ryan Ward, Tom Watters, Ian Claxton and Nuala Moore with Expedition Leader Henry O Donnell.
- 2007: Sport City Mexico was a six-member relay from Mexico City that completed the second 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 42 hours 11 minutes in August 2007. The members included Mariel Hawley, Jorge Urreta, Luis Pineyro, Omar Díaz González, Alejandro Moreno, and Mayalen Noriega with coach Rodolfo Aznar, Dr. Alexander Kormanovsky, escort pilot Mike Oram and co-pilot Lance Oram.
- 2008: Lake Cane Relay: 2 teams of 50 swimmers, each doing 2 km, who covered 100 km in 37 hours 6 minutes in Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida, USA under the leadership of Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer in December 2008.
- 2009: Taupo x 3 (or Lake Taupo Three-way Relay) were two separate 6-person male and female relays that swam 126 km (78.2 miles) in a three-way crossing of Lake Taupo, New Zealand between 5-6 January 2009. The men's team finished in 33 hours 31 minutes 15 seconds and included Steve Junk (Australia), Mark Cockroft (New Zealand), Dougal Hunt (Australia), Chris Palfrey (Australia), and Stephen Spence (Australia) with New Zealand legend Philip Rush as the escort pilot. The women’s team finished in 33 hours 33 minutes 45 seconds and included Julie Bradshaw (England), Michelle Macy (USA), Barbara Pellick (Australia), Penny Palfrey (Australia), Lucy Roper (England), and Heather Osborn (New Zealand).
- 2009: The Camlough Team was a relay of 220 swimmers who swam non-stop 685.5 km (426.5 miles) in Camlough Lake in northern Ireland for 232 hours 52 minutes over 9 nights and 10 days in 2009 under the leadership of Aoife McCourt-Lynch and Pádraig Mallon.
- 2010: Mexican American Unity Swim was a 3-man, 3-woman relay that swam 200 km (108 nautical miles) in Lake Powell, Utah, USA on 24-26 September 2010. The three American men and three Mexican women swam for 55 hours, 20 minutes 25 seconds and included Patty Kohlman, Edna Llorens, Nora Toledano, Captain Vito Bialla, Matthew Davie, and Phil Cutti.
- 2010: Ventura Deep Six was a 6-man relay that swam 325 km (202 miles) down the California coast from Ventura to La Jolla Cove near San Diego. The men from Ventura County Masters Swim Club included Tom Ball, Kurtis Baron, John Chung, Jim McConica, Jim Neitz and Mike Shaffer who swam for 4 days 5 hours 39.53 minutes (101 hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds) between 16-20 September 2010.
- 2010: Kaieiewaho Channel Relay was a 6-person relay that swam 115.8 km (72 miles) across the Kaieiewaho Channel from Oahu to Kauai. The team of Linda Kaiser, Randy Brown, Michelle Macy, Joel Swartz, Billy Brown and Mike Spalding swam for 47 hours 55 minutes on 20-22 November 2010.
- 2011: Windermere 12-way Warriors was a 6-person relay that swam 12 non-stop crossings of Windermere in the Lake District of England. The team of Liane Llewellyn, Thomas Noblett, Keith Bartolo, Michelle Lefton, Michelle Sharples and Dee Llewellyn was escorted by Chris Ducker, swimming 126 miles (202.7 km) in 75 hours 32 minutes on 27-30 May 2011 in 10°C water.
- 2011: Japan to Taiwan Ocean Swim Challenge was a 6-person 120 km (74.5 miles) relay that swam from Yonaguni Island in Okinawa, Japan to the eastern shore of Taiwan. The team of Kazuya Suzuki, Atsushi Suzuki, Masaya Shimizu, Kenta Ishii, Haruki Yamamoto, and Kouhei Yamada took 50 hours to complete and raised nearly US$100,000 for charity.
- 2012: Marina Martinique Marathon was a 6-person relay that swam 350 km in a 3.1 km loop course within Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa between 21-25 March 2012. The team included Ralph West, Brenton Williams, JC van Wyk, Greg Tucker, Russell Tucker and Sanmarie Woithe.
- 2013: Team FTD was a 6-person relay that completed an unprecedented 6-way 121.2-mile (195 km) Catalina Channel crossing in 61 hours 7 minutes from 10-13 July 2013. The team included Forrest Nelson, Becky Jackman-Beeler, Mike Mitchell, Kent Nicholas, Emily Evans, and Tina Neill. The team was captained by pilot John Pittman on the vessel Outrider with observers Carol Sing, Donald Van Cleve, and Adam Moine.
- 2013: Night Train Swimmers was a 2-woman, 4-man relay that swam 367 km (228 miles) along the California coast from Gaviota State Park to a small beach near the San Diego Yacht Club. The team included Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl swam between 22-26 August 2013, escorted by Captain Vito Bialla, navigator Hal McCormick and observer Patrick Horn for 100 hours 28 minutes between 22-26 August 2013.
- 2014: Cyprus Israel Swim was a 6-man relay that swam 380 km (235 miles) from Cyprus to Israel in 123 hours 10 minutes. The team swam from Paphos Port Cyprus in Cyprus at 2:20 pm on 5 October 2014 and finished south of Rishon, Israel at 5:30 pm on 10 October and included Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, and Luc Chetboun with a support crew of Erez Amir, captain Nimrod Or and Uri Brown.
- 2014: Delphinus was a 6-person team of Indian Air Force personnel who swam 286 km (177.7 miles) clockwise around Mumbai, India on 28-30 October 2014 in 49 hours 44 minutes with Wing Commander Paramvir Singh, Sergeant Gullupilli Narhari, Sergeant Ankan Kumar Patel, Sergeant S Sriharim, Corporal Aneesh Singh and Leading Aircraftsman Vicky Tokas.
- 2015: The Sea Hawk was a team of 6 Indian open water swimmers who completed a charity swim of 433.11 km (269.1 miles) from Dona Paula in Goa along the Konkan coast to the Gateway of India in Mumbai, India in 156 hours between 13-19 February 2015 that included Paramvir Singh, Gullupilli Narhari, Ankan Kumar Patel, Vicky Tokas, Ganesh Palande, and Manav Mehta.
- 2015: The Swim4Good Costa Brava relay was a 6-person Spanish team that swam the length of the Costa Brava from Blanes to Portbou in Spain, finishing in 32 hours 7 minutes for the 118.6 km (73.69-mile) distance in July 2015. its swimmers included Guillermo Sagnier, Christian Puentes, Alberto Compte, Jordi Cañellas, Mauricio Prieto, and Esteban Raventós with Captain Toni Fiol.
- 2015: The Night Train Swimmers' NT300 was a 6-person team that swam around San Francisco Bay, finishing in 91 hour 29 minute for the 313-mile (504 km) distance between 10 am on 6 September and 5:29 am on 11 September 2015. Its swimmers included Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kimberley Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne, and Vito Bialla.
- 2016: The Sea Hawk relay team of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Paramvir Singh, retired Indian Air Force Sergeant Gullupilli Narhari, Sergeant Ankan Kumar Patel, Indian Air Force Aircraftman Vicky Tokas, Mumbai police sub-inspector Shrikant Palande, 16-year-old Manav Mehta, swimmer-coach Rahul Chiplunkar who completed a 1,031 km (640-mile) non-stop relay swim from the Gate of India in Mumbai to Mangalore in India in between November 16th and the finish on December 8th, a 22-day journey.
- 2022: The swimyourswim team of Samantha Farrow, Tracy Mistry, Claire Poole, and Caroline Saxon completed a four-person relay 13 times across Lake Windermere in England in 77 hours 39 minutes, swimming a total of 219.7 km (136.5 miles) on 18 September 2022.
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