The deep blue water, cool wind blowing in your hair, and the thrill of adventure, racing, or competition. With water sports, there is never a dull moment. You will have fun, experience an adrenaline rush, and enjoy it to the core.
Did You Know?
While most people consider water sports a fun, recreational activity, there are competitions for nearly all water sports these days. Some events even qualify for an Olympic entry.
Everyone is fascinated by water in some way or the other. Some like calm and tranquil blue water, whereas others enjoy turbulent and roiling currents. This makes it an ideal sporting medium, and today there are a wide range of water sports to choose from.
Water sports are adventurous, fun-filled, action packed, and exciting. Both, physical exertion and mental stimulation can be attained in water sports. They offer a visual treat, motivation, and an elated feeling. Water sports can be played in, on, or under water. Given below are some water sports that you can try your hand at.
Competitive Water Sports
Competitive water sports can either be individual or team-based. There are World Championships, Olympics, and many other renowned competitions that test athletes in different types of sports.
Individual Water Sports
This is defined as an individual performance that brings out the best in each contender. It requires great physical strength, perseverance, determination, positive attitude, and a burning desire to excel.
One of the most popular water sports, swimming has been around for centuries. It has evolved to become one of the most common recreational activities as well. Swimming competitions are many, out of which the World Aquatics Championships and the Olympics are the most prestigious, and are governed by the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA). Swimming is a sport that tests your fitness and stamina.
Surfing is riding a surfboard on the forward face of a wave, which mostly carries you towards the shore. There are different types of surfing that depend on the length of the surfboard, its design, the form of the wave that is ridden, and the style of riding. Balance plays a critical role in maintaining the posture on the various equipment that can be used for surfing. These include surfboards, surf mats, long-boards, stand up paddle boards, wave-skis, knee-boards, or skim-boards.
The radical technique of surfing, combined with sailing know-how and skill, is what windsurfing is all about. The equipment used here is a surfboard with a sail fixed on a movable mast. The windsurfer has to move with the waves to control the board, and at the same time manage the sail according to the winds. This is a surface water sport, and there are a lot of competitions, both local and international, as well as an Olympic event for this sport.
Jet skiing is basically racing over a body of water on a one-man watercraft machine. Fancy stunts and tricks, like flipping and jumping over a ramp, can be done with freestyle jet skiing. Competitive racing is also done between 10-20 racers over a set course. Though it is yet to be recognized as an Olympic event, it was included in the Asian Beach Games recently.
Imagine surfing while being towed along by a high-speed boat. That’s wakeboarding in a nutshell. The board here is a specifically designed board with fins and weights, to allow the rider to manipulate it with his/her feet. This sport is partially inspired by snowboarding, and is often performed in smaller water bodies like lakes. World Wakeboard Championships are held for wakeboarding, and it has been a part of the X Games and World Games as well.
Another water surface sport, water skiing is basically skiing on water. An individual uses 2 skis or a single ski to skim or glide along the surface of water, and is pulled along by a high-speed powerboat with the help of a ski cable or rope. On a competitive basis, show water skiing and slalom skiing are followed, along with standard dual skiing. Water skiing has been a part of all major water sports championships including the Olympics, World Games, and World Championships.
Triathlon is a type of race that popularly involves swimming, cycling, and running various distances in immediate succession. It is a highly popular sport and was recently included in the Olympics. The Ironman series and World Cup Championships are organized every year. It is a test of your physical fitness, and stamina.
Kitesurfing uses a small surfboard or wakeboard which is pulled by a kite. You will need to go through some training in order to understand the movement and direction control of the kite. There are a few rules and regulations to follow. If you stick to them, this is a sport which is fun-filled and you will thoroughly enjoy it.
Again a board sport, but with a twist. Unlike surfers who start deep into the waves by swimming to the deeper parts of the ocean, skimboarders start at the beach, wading with the board into the wash of previous waves. They then catch the next wave back to the beach. The board is smaller than a surfboard. Skimboarding can be done in lakes and rivers as opposed to surfing, which requires a large body of water. World Championships are held and skimboarding contests like the European Skimboard League, United Skim Tour, and Skim USA are held to determine the World Champion of Professional Skimboarding.
Bodyboarding is a surface water sport, and the surfer rides a bodyboard on a wave that carries him towards the shore. Bodyboards used for this form of sport vary according to the riders specifications regarding the style of riding, and height and weight. There are World Championships that are conducted for bodyboarders, and Mike Stewart (Hawaii, USA), a 9-time record holder, is considered as one of the best riders of all time. The International Bodyboarding Association World Tour determines the champion now.
Cliff diving is one form wherein divers jump off cliffs or rocks in freshwater or salt water. It is fun to just dive off a high cliff into the calm waters below. A World Series Cliff Diving Competition is held every year. The height from which divers plunged into the waters below was 85 feet – equal to jumping off an eight-story building! Avid cliff divers travel the world in search of exotic locations to experience the thrill and ultimate rush.
This water sport can be a lazy, relaxed activity, or a frenzied and highly competitive sport. There are different types of fishing – from big-game fishing to fly fishing and deep-sea fishing. The species and quantity of catch required depend on competition rules and area of fishing (sea, river or lake).
Team Water Sports
The following water sports involve teamwork, synchronization of movements, balance, energy, and a joint effort to succeed and win.
This sport is very energetic and involves a full body workout, as players must swim and defend the ball as well as try to score in the opponents goal. It’s a lot more like handball played in water rather than polo. This sport is very intense and competitive, with a lot of strategies and techniques involved in gameplay. There are numerous competitions, and it is a very old Olympic event as well.
Thrill-seekers and extreme sports aficionados treasure this action-packed water sport. An inflatable raft must be maneuvered over rather rough or dangerous water by a team of around 4-12 people. This sport is a famous leisure sport, an ideal vacation sport, and depending on the location and water current speed, slightly dangerous. It is more fun during the rains when the river current is at its peak.
Rowing is a sport in which athletes compete in boats on rivers, lakes, or the ocean, depending on the type of race. The force of the athletes on the oar blades of the boat while rowing, work against the water forces to propel the boat forward. It is played for both competitive and recreational purposes, and is one of the oldest sports to be included in the Olympics.
What’s there to it, step off a board and jump. Actually, this water sport is a little more complex than that. Particular diving and jumping forms and rules exist and in some cases, acrobatics while falling must be performed. Diving is a very popular and intensely competitive Olympic event. It can be done solo or synchronized, where 2 divers must mimic or perform opposite diving forms, while diving simultaneously.
A combination of swimming, gymnastics, and dance, synchronized swimming is performing elegant synchronized moves in the water with music played in the background. It requires great flexibility, aerobic endurance, strength, grace, perfect timing, and excessive breath control when underwater. Olympic and World Championships do not allow men to compete, however, there are many other competitions that do allow male swimmers to participate.
To be more specific, traveling over water in a vessel or vehicle that has sails can be termed as sailing. Sailing is an intensely competitive sport, and many competitions like the Sailing World Championships, Sailing World Cup for youth, men and women are held apart from the Olympic Sailing Regatta.
This water sport, where a small boat called a kayak is used to move across water, can be done in white water rivers, seas, or lakes, for different purposes, such as recreation, expedition, touring, adventure, or competitive purposes. Kayaking through rapids and whitewater is dangerous and needs years of practice to master. Kayaking is a part of the Olympics, and is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities.
Canoeing is done in a small boat called a canoe which is pointed at both ends. It can be done individually, or with a group of people in rivers, lakes, or even water parks. Canoeing can be relaxing or adventurous, depending on the type of water that you choose. Canoeing is a great sport, is very popular, and has been a part of the Olympics since a long time.
If you love speed and racing, then this is a sport for you. However, you need to be cautious as racing of boats needs you to be extra aware of your surroundings. These powerboats reach speeds high enough to get your adrenaline pumping and enjoy the thrills of a race. Powerboating is a fun and enjoyable ride.
Technically speaking, yachting is sailing or boating on a vessel called a ‘yacht’. These vessels or yachts are designed to sail fast, and are hence used widely for racing. There are strict rules that govern yacht racing. There are many competitions held, the America Cup being the oldest, most prestigious, and exclusive event in yacht racing.
Recreational Water Sports
Recreational water sports are fun-filled, great stress-relievers, and help you relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. They are very popular and major tourist attractions as well. Listed below are a few of these recreational water sports that are undertaken for amusement, enjoyment, and pleasure.
Snorkeling is swimming on the surface or through water with a diving mask, fins, and a hollow tube called a snorkel (a pipe that helps you breathe underwater). It is a popular recreational activity and is appealing due to its simple nature. You can observe underwater life and corals without any training or equipment like in scuba diving. Water sports like underwater rugby, spearfishing, and underwater hockey are played using snorkeling equipment.
Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing using sharpened sticks to catch fish. Technology has changed spearfishing – which now involves the use of air-powered spearguns or slings along with various diving equipment. The original technique is to hold your breath underwater to spear fish with no bait, being very specific and selective. Hence, it is the most environment-friendly form of fishing.
If you love photography, this will be an ideal sport for you. Diving in the deep blue waters equipped with a camera offers exquisite, exciting, and rare photographic moments. It is often performed while scuba diving with a waterproof camera and appropriate light setup. Digital cameras have drastically changed many facets of underwater photography.
Water aerobics is a form of exercise where aerobics are performed in shallow water. It is beneficial for one and all, including the elderly. The use of water supports the body and reduces the risk of injury to the muscles and joints, prevents overheating of the body, and is a very safe and simple form of exercise. It helps strengthen muscles, and can be done even if you are not a good swimmer.
Freediving is training your body for long spells under water without the use of any diving equipment. It’s all about holding your breath underwater and exploring the world underwater. The goal is to challenge oneself and test your limits, thus improving your ability and pushing your limits further.
A parasail is a parachute that is specially designed to be towed behind a boat. You can enjoy a breathtaking view of the water and horizon with a fun-filled ride. Commercial parasailing operations are held all over the world, and there are many parasailing associations that govern the sport held for the game as well.
It is a type of underwater diving using a scuba set – that generally consists of an air hose, mouthpiece, regulator, harness, back plate, and an air tank – to breathe underwater. Scuba diving is very popular, and undertaken for many reasons that include recreational, scientific, commercial, professional, or public service.
Water skiing using just your feet is barefoot skiing. Balance plays a crucial role in this sport. It is fun to be towed along with the boat, and is also a great hobby. It is one of the most popular water sports today.
Water sports are fun-filled and relaxing. Sometimes, they can be dangerous or extreme, and at other times, action-packed and full of thrills. One thing is for certain, whether for leisure or competition, their appeal is universal.