Olympic Games 2020 | Everything you need to know about open water swimming

Olympic Games 2020 |  Everything you need to know about open water swimming

The swimming marathon has been on the Olympic calendar since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With three gold medals, the Netherlands is the most successful country in this field. Especially that the Martin van der Weyden race in 2008 is still etched in the memory of many Dutch people.

  • What: Swimming 10 km in open water
  • Venue: Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo
  • When: Women: August 4, Men: August 5.
  • Where to see: Eurosport 1 & discovery +
  • Dutch participants: Sharon van Ruandal and Ferry Wertmann
  • Favorites: Women: Shane Sheen, Haley Anderson, Rachel Bruni, Sharon Van Ruandal. Men: Florian Willbrook, Marc Antoine Olivier, Jordan Williamowski, Ferry Wertmann


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Swimming in open water has a very simple setup. There is one race and it must happen to the participants. The top 25 swimmers of recent years are allowed to participate in both men’s and women’s competitions. The race begins with a group start, after which it simply turns out who will complete the 10 km faster and click on the finish board first.

As with cycling and running, it pays to be swimming in open water in a group. By swimming directly behind his predecessor, the effect is that the swimmer is absorbed in the energy of the participant in front of him. So there’s a good chance the favorites will swim towards the end in groups for a long time. This was also the case five years ago. Wertmann’s ferry ended at the same time as the number two Spyros Gianniotis. However, Weertman touched the end plate a fraction earlier and allowed him to take the gold. The top ten finished completely within five seconds of the winner.

Ferry Wertmann at the 2018 European Open Water Swimming Championships in Glasgow

Photo: Eurosport


Ferry Wertmann and Sharon van Rowendahl are still among the best in the world at open water swimming, but the Dutch are not the favorites this year. Germany’s Florian Willbrück is the world champion and the man with all eyes in Tokyo. In addition to being an open water swimmer, Wellbrock is also the world champion in the 1500m freestyle in the pool. He is the first swimmer to win an international competition in the pool and open water. Wellbrock is aiming for a historic Olympic double in Tokyo, because here he also competes in the 1500m in the pool and the open water swimming.

The competition comes mainly from the French Marc Antoine Olivier. Olivier finished just 0.2 seconds behind Willbrook at the last World Cup in 2019. Among the contenders are Jordan Willemowski and Ferry Wertmann. The American and the Dutch are considered dangerous strangers to the title.

Among the women, Shin Shin is the big favorite. The Chinese became world champions in 2019 and as a 19-year-old they are already fourth at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The main competition for Xin Xin comes from the United States and Italy. Haley Anderson and Rachel Bruni sure can give the world champions a rough time. Sharon van Roandal defends her title in Tokyo. Perhaps she can surprise and reclaim her golden form from Rio, but Van Roandal in principle is not hugely favourite.


At first glance, it seems that the bay in which people swim is an ideal place. Odaiba is a large man-made island in Tokyo Bay, around which is the Odaiba Marine Park. It overlooks the city skyline, rainbow bridge and ocean. However, there is no good news for the underwater participants. For years, there were serious concerns about water quality and those concerns resurfaced on July 15. The sewage smelled very unpleasant and Escherichia coli bacteria were found in the water at twice the permitted amount. The problems are mainly due to the sewage system in Tokyo, which opens onto the bay.

Where do you watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

Eurosport will broadcast the Olympic Games live from Friday 23 July to Sunday 8 August from the first minute to the last. Subscribe to Discovery + Sports and enjoy non-stop and ad-free thanks to live multiplayer broadcasts from all the great sports and the best Dutch shows during the Olympics. Take a subscription here.

A Discover + Sports subscription (including access to TLC and Discovery ID channels) costs €5.99 per month and with this platform you can stream all sports and every medal you win live during the Olympics. There’s also a daily Medal Zone swap program at Eurosport 1 so you don’t miss out on any of the action.

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