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Swimming World Records: 4 Record-Breaking Swims You’ll Never Forget

Diana Nyad’s recent inclusion in the unofficial swimming world records hall of fame inspired us to compile a list of the most intense and unbelievable swims on record. We bring you a list of world record breaking distance swims that will make your weekly session at the pool pale in comparison!

Think You’re In Shape? These Swimming World Records Will Crush Your Ideas of Physical Fitness

Swim an Entire River

Martin Strel tackles swimming world records.
Distance swimmer, Martin Strel, holds 4 Guiness World Records for long-distance swimming.

While some of us might have a hard time just swimming across a wide, raging river, Martin Strel, an internationally known long-distance swimmer, has actually swam rivers in their entirety! The Slovenian swimmer, currently aged 58, holds the Guinness World Record for swimming the Danube River, the Mississippi River, the Yangtze River, and the Amazon River. If you’re keeping track, Strel has swam 3 of the top 4 longest rivers in the world! The longer rivers took him months to complete, yet he was able to traverse the Danube in 84 hours and 10 minutes of nonstop swimming! Martin Strel says he doesn’t swim for fitness or to break records. Instead his personal motto is, “swimming for peace, friendship, and clean waters.” Talk about a true champ and role model!

Wait… Swim an Entire Ocean!

Ben Lacomte happy to be ashore after Atlantic crossing.
Distance swimmer, Ben Lecomte, greets his family wearily after nearly 80 days at sea.

Long-distance extreme swimmer Ben Lecomte is no stranger to navigating seemingly endless bodies of water. Ben, who was born in France but now calls the U.S. home, is widely credited as the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean without a kickboard! Like Nyad, he swam with an accompanying boat that produced an electromagnetic field to help keep hungry sharks away. Although the boat’s field did it’s job, he was still followed for 5 days by a giant great white shark! But maybe that was the least of his worries as he crossed the 3,716 mile stretch that took him 73 days to complete. Lacomte completed his swim to raise money for cancer research and as a tribute to his father. What’s next for a guy who’s already conquered the Atlantic Ocean? Perhaps the Pacific?

Going Deep

World dive records broken by Herbert Nitsch.
Freediver Herbert Nitsch breaks the free diving depth record at over 700 ft.

When covering long distances isn’t enough, then it’s time to head into the depths. Being a freediver requires you to be in tiptop shape, have excellent lung capacity, and be extremely mentally strong. Herbert Nitsch, an Austrian freediver and world record holder, embodies all of these qualities. His title of ‘deepest man on earth’ was earned in Greece in 2007 when he reached the outstanding depth of 214 meters (or 702 feet!). He uses a unique weighted sled to drop him to these unfathomable depths and then must rely solely on his fins and his powerful legs and lungs to return to the surface. Nitsch can hold his breath up to 9 minutes and has set a whopping 31 official world records. Not too shabby for a self-taught free diver!

Take a Deep Breath

Karol Meyer descends into the record books.
Brazilian freediver, Karol Meyer, has a leg up on the competition with an 18 minute lung capacity.

Like Diana Nyad proved, it’s not all about men when it comes to setting diving and swimming world records. Karol Meyer, a Brazilian freediver, holds the Guinness Book of World Records for apnea freediving. Apnea freediving simply means that a diver was able to stay under and hold their breath without the use of a regulator or other breathing apparatus. She was able to hold her breath for an unbelievable 18 minutes and 32 seconds! Most of us would have a hard time holding our breath for even a tenth of her time. Because of her powerful lungs, she has become a legend in the extreme sport of free diving.

Did we miss something? Share your favorite swimming world records in the comments below and we’ll add them to the list!


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