UWEC’s Wide World of Sports

They really do swim in a peat bog

More stories from Lauren Spierings

COVID on campus
April 1, 2021


In the smallest town in Britain, competitors gather once a year to race for victory. Of course, this race takes place in a peat bog and competitors swim.

Llanwrtyd Wells, population of 601, in Wales hosts the competition every August in the Waen Rhydd bog. 

Essentially, a trench is dug lengthwise in the bog so that it fills with water. Competitors hop into the trench and must snorkel down and back as fast as possible. 

Snorkelers must swim down and back in the shortest time possible, swimming 110 meters in total according to Rad Season. They must touch a turn post above water at the far end before they can turn back to finish the race. 

Participants are allowed to use fins, however monofins are not allowed. Swimmers must keep their faces in the water the whole race, so snorkels are also used. Full mask snorkels are also prohibited. 

As an added impediment, competitors can only swim doggy paddle style with their arms. Front crawl or breaststroke arm strokes are not allowed.

Wetsuits are recommended, but are not a requirement, especially considering that some people participate in the outfit contest while they swim.

The birth of bog snorkeling is attributed to a discussion in a pub in Wales in 1976 by BBC. The first World Championship was later held in 1985 in the same location it is held to this day. 

Llanwrtyd Wells is about a mile from the Waen Rhydd bog, so those interested in the event either have to walk to the location or take a bus from the town.

The outfit contest, called the Fancy Dress Section on the Visit Wales website, is another competition for racers to take part in. Contestants dress up in ridiculous outfits that, while they may be hindersome in their races, give them the chance to have a laugh all the same.

Besides just the bog swim and fancy dress, there are also a few other events during the same day. 

During the same time as the bog snorkeling, there is a bog triathlon for those who want to do something different. 

Established in 2005, the bog triathlon formed in response to a demand for more competitions in the Waen Rhydd bog, the Green Events website said.

The triathlon starts with an 8-mile run, followed by 60-yards of going through a peat bog trench. To finish, triathlon participants must complete a 12-mile-long mountain bike ride. 

In the bog triathlon, special bikes with water and lead in the wheels are used to bike through the peat bog. 

The website also advertises a “bite size” triathlon for junior participants or those who don’t want to complete the full length triathlon. This triathlon has a 3-mile run, a 60-yard bog snorkel and a 6-mile long mountain bike section. 

There is no date yet for the next competition, however, more information about bog competitions can be found on the Green Events website. Sign-ups for the next World Bog Snorkeling Championship are open until seven days before the event.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected]