After being postponed in 2020, Tokyo will be hosting the 2021 Summer Olympic Games. Water sports in the Olympics include swimming, diving, and water polo.
Which Water Sports are in the Summer Olympics?
After spending nearly a year wondering if they would happen, the 2020, now 2021, Olympic Summer Games are almost here. The world watches as we return to international athletics and these games will celebrate our slow return to normal and how the world has come together to combat covid.
As the best of our athletes prepare to make the journey to Tokyo, we can’t help but get a little excited about our favorite water sports. Water sports are some of the most exciting in the Olympic games as athletes must contend with the added challenge of water.
The International Olympic Committee makes changes to the official Olympic program more frequently than we realize. So let’s get into what water sports to watch for this year, and maybe even in the future.
Swimming is by far one of the most popular sports in the Olympics with thousands tuning in to watch the world’s fastest swimmers face off. With legendary swimmers such as Michael Phelps competing with almost inhuman success, swimming has gained the world’s attention year after year. While popular swimmers like Michael Phelps may not be swimming in the Olympics this year, there are still plenty of new young swimmers who are pushing the bounds. Watch for swimmers like Katie Ledeckey, Abbey Weitzel, Caleb Dressel, and lesser known Gianlucca Urlando. Life track and field, there are countless swimming events broken down by distance (and stroke) and exciting relays.
Marathons aren’t just for runners! Since 2008 athletes have competed in grueling marathon swimming events at the Olympics. Marathon swimming is the longest swimming event in the Olympics covering a distance of 10 kilometers in open water. This high endurance water sport can also be pretty exciting: while the races often last nearly two hours, the winner is usually decided by tenths of a second. Athletes have a force to contend with not seen in the pool: nature. Swimmers have to use the sea’s currents and tides to their advantage, making for an exciting race.
While technically a water sport, diving actually is judged more on what happens out of the water than in it. Diving first became an Olympic sport in 1904 at the St Louis games. It has been an Olympic sport ever since! Divers are judged on the aerial acrobatics they perform before hitting the water. In 2000 they also added synchronized diving, where divers must perform tricks in harmony.
While many of us still refer to this sport as synchronized swimming, its official title changed to artistic swimming. Today, this sport is performed either with a partner, known as duets, or in teams. This is an artistic sport that combines elements of swimming, dance and gymnastics as swimmers perform synchronized movements in the water. While this water sport is as much of an art form as it is athletics, it requires incredible strength, flexibility, breath support and precision. Like in gymnastics floor routines, routines are usually performed to music.
Some people consider water polo the toughest Olympic sport, water or otherwise. It has been included at nearly every Olympic Games. But have you ever stopped to watch it? Many people are not actually familiar with the rules, even though it has been popular for over a hundred years. Gameplay is fairly simple: two teams take to the field, except here the field is not a field but a pool. Each team may have seven players: six in the outfield and one goalkeeper. Other than the goalkeeper, the players are constantly moving around the pool–some believe that players move between one and two miles per game! The goal is to score points by getting a ball into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most points wins. This is a high-intensity water sport as players may not rest by touching the bottom of the pool. They tread water or use a slightly more efficient version of treading water called the egg beater. Except for the goalkeeper, players are also only allowed to hold the ball with one hand, adding an extra challenge.
Future Olympic Sport: Underwater Torpedo League (UTL)
Every now and then, the Olympic Committee will allow a demonstration to gauge interest globally in new, up-and-coming sports. One sport that is quickly gaining attraction around the world is the Underwater Torpedo League. It is truly a test of strength, stamina, breath support, and the ability to stay calm in the clutch. One could compare it to water polo, except that all the action occurs underwater. It has become popular with athletes such as surfers, MMA fighters, former military personnel, pro swimmers, and functional fitness athletes. But there have also been a number of former football players and swimmers who have tried the game. We are hoping that it will become a sport in the Olympics by 2028.
Try UTL and Deep End Fitness Yourself
Ready to train underwater? Come check out Deep End Fitness. Designed by former marines, it is a program designed for athletes of all levels and people who want to lead, push their physical limits, and develop deeper focus. Deep End Fitness is a licensed sport, so anyone can get a program up and running once they have been trained. You do not have to compete in UTL to train in Deep End Fitness, but we hope you’ll give this new Olympic water sport a try.