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The 'ideal' ocean swim, as preferred by ocean swimmers

We’ve crunched the data from the 2016 annual ocean swims survey to find out what ocean swimmers say is the ‘ideal’ ocean swim.

Every ocean swimmer has their own idea of what the perfect ocean swim looks like, but what if we could find the perfect ocean swim as chosen by the majority? What would it look like?

Well, we’ve been crunching the data from the 2016 annual ocean swims survey and we’ve come up with just that – the ‘ideal’ ocean swim.

So, here it is… the ‘ideal’ ocean swim – as voted by the majority.

The ‘ideal’ ocean swim


1km, 2km and 5km.

Course type

Point-to-point (or journey) swims in interesting and exotic locations.


Elite/competitors start waves included for those swimmers to race amongst themselves (leaving the rest to enjoy their swim).

Starting system

Smaller, individual age and gender waves.


Anyone can wear wetsuits, and wetsuit wearers are eligible for their own prize category.

Entry fees

$40 entry fee.

Course marking

Brightly coloured buoys every 100m. Large swim maps on the beach, a well explained course by an announcer with tips on how to navigate.

Water safety

Maximum water safety with low swimmer-to-water safety ratio.

Event extras

Swims are timed using individual timing devices and results are posted locally and online as fast as possible.

Assisting event organisers

As part of our commitment to helping ocean swim organisers develop their events in line with what the ocean swimming community are asking for, we have already shared these results with them (are you an organiser and haven’t received our initial report? Contact Andre).

Open-ended feedback

We asked participants what they love about ocean swims, what they think organisers could do better at, and what worries them about ocean swimming. The results are a great indication of the collective voice of ocean swimmers, and they send a pretty clear message.

Question: Tell us about the things you love about your favourite ocean swim events.

  • Water, location, great courses
  • Swimming!
  • Good people and friends
  • That finishing feeling

Question: Tell us what ocean swim event organisers could do better at.

  • Managing swimmers and starts (related to being swum over and pushed around)
  • Setting well laid-out courses with buoys that can be easily seen
  • Water safety and having plenty of people to help
  • Having timing available

Question: What worries you the most about swimming in the ocean?

  • Sharks
  • Big and rough surf
  • Stingers
  • Waves
  • Crowded swimming conditions and getting pushed around

First published on

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 5 October 2016
  • (Updated on 4 August 2023)



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