Water sports are always fun-filled. The thrill of enjoying the deep blue water, cool wind blowing in your hair and the adrenaline rush you get while doing the sport can be very exciting. Some can be dangerous or extreme, while some can be relaxing and energizing. But one thing is for sure, whether it’s for leisure or for competition, it has universal appeal.
Whether it’s individual water sports, team sports or recreational sports, here are the different types of water sports:
Individual water sports
Individual water sports brings out the best in every contender competing. These sports needs different skills, but overall, they require strength, stamina, determination and a desire to win and excel.
Swimming is one of the most popular water sports all over the world. It has evolved to become one of the most common recreational activity. Swimming competitions are common, and many of them take place in swimming pools or in open water like lake or seas. It tests the body’s fitness and stamina. It’s a great workout for the whole body.
Surfing involves riding in a surfboard on the forward face of a wave, breaking waves to shore in an upright or standing position. It’s the most common board-based, surface water sport. Surfers catch ocean, river and even man-made waves where there are waves to ride. Balance is developed when surfing, as you have to maintain the proper posture while riding the waves.
3. Water skiing
Water skiing is a surface sport that’s basically skiing on water. A water skier needs 2 or a single ski to skim or glide along the surface of the water. With the help of a ski cable or rope, the rider is pulled along by a high-speed powerboat with the help of a ski cable. Water skiing is part of all major water sports championships such as the Olympics, World Championships and World Games.
4. Wake boarding
Also known as cable wakeboarding, this type of sport is a kind of surfing – you ride a board in a prone position while you’re being towed along by a high-speed boat. The board used in wakeboarding is specifically designed with fins and weights to allow the rider to manipulate it with his/her feet. Besides surfing, wakeboarding is inspired by snowboarding and water skiing, and it’s often performed in smaller water bodies like lakes.
At first, skimboarding looks like surfing, but they differ in the way riders star. Surfers swim first to the deeper parts of the ocean and anticipates for the waves, but skimboarders start at the beach, wading with the board into the wash of the previous waves. After that, they ride the next wave back to the shore. Skimboarders uses a skimboard, which is a lot like a surfboard but smaller and without fins. Skimboarding is also known as skimming. It is usually done in lakes and rivers, unlike surfing which is usually done in the sea or ocean. Skimboarding contests are usually held in World Championships and in events like the United Skim Tour, Skim USA and European Skimboard League.
Another surface water sport, body boarding is a sport in which the surfer rides the bodyboard in a prone position on the crest, face and curl of a wave. Bodyboards used in bodyboarding vary according to the specifications of the riders, such as height and weight and the style of riding. They usually use swim fins for propulsion and control while riding a breaking wave. The sport is also called boogieboarding. World Championships are conducted for bodyboarders, and the champion is determined in the International Bodyboarding Association World Tour.
Paddleboarding involves kneeling or lying or standing on a paddleboard or surfboard in the ocean while being propelled using a paddle by a swimming motion. This sport is usually done in the open ocean. A derivative of this sport is called stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or stand-up paddle surfing. Like surfing, the first thing you need to learn here is how to balance yourself while on the paddleboard, then learning how to move in the water by using the paddle. In competitions, the participants are often paddling and surfing unbroken swells to cross in between islands or go from one shore to another.
8. Cliff diving
Cliff diving is the least complicated extreme sport. You don’t need any equipment to do cliff diving, but you need courage and an ability to swim in deep waters. In cliff diving, you just need to dive off a high cliff and into the calm waters below. But before you cliff dive, make sure that the area you’re diving into is safe for the sport. The height from which divers plunge into the waters below is around 85 feet, which is equal to jumping off from the 8th floor of a building. A World Series Cliff Diving Competition is held annually for professional and avid cliff divers around the world.
9. Kite surfing
In kitesurfing, the surfer stands on a small surfboard or wakeboard and is pulled by a kite. Also known as kite boarding or sky boarding, this sport combines aspects of surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, sailing, paragliding, skateboarding and snowboarding in one extreme sport. The surfer harnesses the power of wind using a large controllable power kite.
10. Wind surfing
Wind surfing is all about using the technique of surfing and the skills of sailing. Using a surfboard with a sail fixed on a movable mast, the surfer has to move with the waves to control the board. While moving with the waves, the surfer also has to manage the sail according to the winds. It’s a popular surface water sport and it’s included in a lot of local and international competitions, as well as in Olympics.
11. Jet skiing
If you’re up for a fun water race, jet skiing is an exciting sport to consider trying. It’s riding on a one-man watercraft machine – the jet ski – and racing over a body of water like the sea or lake. With freestyle jet skiing, you can also perform flipping and jumping over a ramp. Competitive jet skiing is done between 10 to 20 racers over a set course.
Triathlon is a type of racing that involves swimming, cycling and running various distances in immediate succession. It’s a multi-stage race that measures endurance, physical fitness and stamina. Triathlon is a popular sport that has been recently included in the Olympics. It’s also one of the competitions involved in the Ironman series and World Cup Championships.
Team water sports
Sometimes, water sports are more fun in a group than going alone. These sports need teamwork, balance, energy, synchronized movements and a joint effort to win.
13. Synchronized swimming
Synchronized swimming is a combination of swimming, dance and gymnastics. It’s all about performing an elegant, elaborate, synchronized moves in the water, accompanied by music. It requires advanced water skills, aerobic endurance, flexibility, strength, grace, creativity, perfect timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. Swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool in synchronized swimming. Also, only women are allowed to compete in Olympics and World Championships, but there are other competitions in synchronized swimming that are open for men.
14. Synchronized diving
In synchronized diving, two divers perform the exact same dive simultaneously. And it’s not just stepping off a board and jumping – it also involves acrobatics while the diver is falling. Also, there are particular, jumping and diving rules and forms to follow. It’s a popular and highly competitive Olympic event that can also be done solo.
15. Water polo
Also called football in the water, water polo is an energetic sport in which players must swim and defend the ball to try to score in the opponent’s goal. It’s played by teams of seven with a buoyant ball that looks like a soccer ball. But it’s more like soccer and basketball and handball rather than polo. It’s intense and competitive, and it’s one of the oldest Olympic events. It involves a full body workout, rigorous gameplay and a lot of strategies.
Rowing is a sport in which athletes compete while riding in boats on the ocean, river or lakes. It involves propelling a boat using oars. It can either be recreational, for fitness or competitive, where athletes team up in boats and race against each other. The force of the racers on the oar blades as they row propels the boat forward. The capacity of boats in which athletes compete varies, ranging from an individual shell to an eight-person shell. Rowing is also one of the oldest sports included in Olympics.
For extreme sports lovers and thrill seekers, rafting is a sought-after sport. It is an action-packed water sport that involves paddling down and drifting in a whitewater river, usually accompanied by a trained guide. Rafters are riding an inflatable raft that must be maneuvered over rough or dangerous waters in a river by a team of 4-12 people. It’s a well-known leisure sport ideal for a thrilling vacation you will remember for the rest of your life. The level of the water difficulty depends on the location. It’s also done during the rains when the river current is at its peak, but it becomes slightly more dangerous, especially when the rains are accompanied with lightning.
Kayaking is a popular water sport that involves using a kayak for moving across the water. A kayak is a small, narrow watercraft typically propelled by a double-bladed paddle. The paddler sits in a low seat in the kayak with legs extended in front. Most kayaks have closed docks, but inflatable and sit-on-top kayaks are also popular. It is done in whitewater rivers, lakes and seas. For thrill seekers, kayaking through the rapids is an exciting sport but it’s dangerous and needs a lot of practice to master. It’s part of the Olympic events and is a fast-growing outdoor activity.
Canoeing is distinguished from kayaking, as this sport uses a single-bladed paddle instead of double. Also, in canoes, the paddler either sits on a raised seat or kneels on the bottom of the boat. Canoeing can be done individually or with a group in rivers, lakes, ocean or even water parks. It can either be relaxing or adventurous depending on the type of water you do your canoeing on.
Sailing is a general term – it’s basically traveling over water in a vessel or boat that has sails. But as a sport, it uses power sails and wind to propel the boat forward on the surface of water. A course is defined through the wind direction, which is called a point of sail. It’s a competitive sport involved in competitions like the Sailing World Championships, Sailing World Cup and of course, the Olympic Sailing Regatta.
If speed and racing is what you’re looking for, powerboating will be an enjoyable sport for you. Powerboats are a kind of racing boats that reach speeds high enough to get your adrenaline pumping. These boats have a high power-to-weight ratio and a hull that is designed to allow higher speed and improved handling. It offers a fun and enjoyable ride that allows recreational or competitive racing.
Technically, yachting is sailing or boating on a yacht. Yachts are sailboats or motor boats designed to sail fast and can be used for racing or for a luxurious cruising. Most yachts are owned by private individuals and are big enough to contain a cabin or a room inside, but even small and cabin-less motor boats are also described as yachts. Events for yachting competitions also exist, such as the America Cup – the oldest, exclusive and most prestigious yacht racing event.
23. Dragon boat racing
Originating from China, dragon boat racing emerged as a modern international watersport. It’s the most popular activity during the Dragon Boat Festival. Participants row while riding a dragon boat, which is a wooden watercraft shaped and decorated in a Chinese dragon design. This boat varies in size and capacity, but generally, it’s around 20-35 meters long and needs 30-60 people to paddle.
Recreational water sports
If you’re in the water just to have fun, recreational water sports are here to help you relax, refresh and relieve stress. Tourists usually engage in recreational water sports once they travel in the waters. Here are some of the few recreational water activities that are done for enjoyment, exploration and pleasure.
Snorkeling is swilling on the surface or through the waters with the help of a diving mask, a snorkel and some fins. The snorkel, which is a hollow tube pipe, allows you to breathe normally underwater. It’s a popular recreational activity in the sea because you can get to observe underwater flora and fauna. Snorkeling is also done in other water sports like underwater hockey, underwater rugby and spearfishing.
25. Water aerobics
If getting fit and staying healthy is your priority, you should try water aerobics. It’s a fun form of exercise wherein aerobics is performed in shallow water, usually in swimming pools. You don’t need to know how to swim before doing this. It’s beneficial for the body, and the use of water prevents overheating of the body and reduces risk of injuries to joints and muscles. Water aerobics is popular with the elderly because it’s a safe and simple form of exercise.
Aquajogging, as the name suggests, is jogging in a swimming pool. It involves wearing a floatation device around your waist and moving arms and legs in a jogging motion in the deep end of the pool. In aquajogging (also known as deepwater running), the feet must not touch the floor of the pool.
27. Scuba diving
For people who want to explore underwater and breathe while swimming deep into the sea, scuba diving is the perfect sport. It makes use of a scuba equipment, which usually consists of a mouthpiece, air hose, harness, back plate, regulator and an air tank, for a swimmer to breathe underwater, without relying on the surface air just like in snorkeling. Scuba divers wear fins as well to swim better. Scuba diving is often done by tourists to explore and admire life under the sea, but it is also used for scientific, professional, commercial and public service purposes.
Freediving, also known as breath-hold diving, is a simple yet perilous sport that involves holding your breath for as long as you can until you return to the surface. With freediving, you can only travel as far as in the air in your lungs can take. It’s a form of training the body for long spells underwater. The goal of this sport is to challenge oneself to test limits, so you can explore the underwater world without needing any diving equipment. Training for freediving involves training for dry breath holding first, before trying it in the water.
29. Cave diving
Cave diving is basically diving underwater in water-filled caves. It’s one of the more dangerous forms of exploration in the planet, as it combines the dangerous nature of diving and the claustrophobic thrills of caving, plus the threat of running out of air. Besides being done as an extreme sport, it’s also done as a way of exploring flooded caves for scientific exploration or for search and recovery of missing divers. For safety, most cave diving is done in scuba equipment.
A parasail is like a parachute specially designed to be towed behind a boat, but it can be also done in land by a car or truck. The harness attaches the parasailer, which is then connected to the boat by the tow rope. As the boat sails on, the parasailer can parasail in the air behind it. If the boat can handle it, two or three people can also parasail at the same time. Commercial parasailing is done all over the world, but there are also associations that organizes competitions for the sport as well.
31. Barefoot skiing
Barefoot skiing in the water is just like water skiing, but without the skis. It’s trickier and more intimidating, as the obstacles that barefooting brings can be discouraging for beginners, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a rewarding sport. Barefoot skiing relies on being towed along with a high-speed boat, so barefooting on the water can be possible. Balance is key to this sport, unless, you may end up drowning.
Fishing is often a relaxed and lazy activity done with family, but it can also be a frenzied and a competitive sport. When done as a sport, there are different types to participate on, such as big-game fishing, fly fishing and deep-sea fishing. The type and quantity of catch required depends on the area of fishing (river, lake or sea) and on the competition rules.
Spearfishing is done by hunters since the ancient times. It involves using sharpened sticks, or spears, to stab a fish and catch it. Sometimes, it’s done in shallow waters so you can see where the fish are, or it is done by holding breath underwater to spear fish, but it can be tricky. Technology has improved it so you can use air-powered spearguns or slings along with diving equipment.
34. Underwater photography
For photography enthusiasts, this is an ideal underwater sport. Diving in the deep waters equipped with diving equipment and a camera offers exciting and rare photographic moments. For this, you need scuba diving gear and a waterproof camera with appropriate light set up. But because digital cameras have now developed, underwater photography has improved and become easier.