The complete list of water sports

Surfing
Underwater football: an unusual version of soccer | Photo: Creative Commons

What kind of water sports are there? And what exactly is a water sport?

First, we must set up criteria for validating water sports. So what is and defines a sport?

Most sources define sport as an individual or team athletic activity involving physical exertion, prowess, and technical skills.

A sport has a set of goals, rules, and regulations and can be related to competition or self-enjoyment. The truth is that sports are often, but not always, competitive.

The difference between a sport and physical exercise is that the former is often associated with recreational and monetary purposes, while the latter is meant for wellness purposes and keeping the body healthy and fit.

Chess: Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Tal play the 1960 Chess Olympiad final in Leipzig | Photo: Creative Commons

Questionable Sports?

And why is shooting an Olympic sport?

Shooting is an Olympic sport because it requires physical and mental skills.

You can't say any sport is purely physical or purely mental. They're all some sort of combination.

And from a mental perspective, shooting is one of the toughest sports. The execution of movements and the athlete's precision is more complex than people might imagine.

What about chess? Is it a "real" sport?

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), chess is a sport because it requires physical exertion and mental prowess.

Did you know that a long, tough chess game can elevate the heart rate, heighten a player's blood pressure and cause perspiration?

Chess involves much kin-aesthetic movement. As a result, the world's top chess grandmasters must keep their bodies in shape to perform at the highest level.

According to doctors and scientists, a chess player could burn up to 6,000 calories daily in a multi-day tournament.

As a result, they can lose around 15 pounds (seven kilograms) after an intense competition.

Despite being a sedentary game, chess's mental workout burns many calories.

Flowboarding: similar to surfing, but on a stationary wave | Photo: Flowrider

Defining Water Sports

Now that we've set the boundaries of a sport, all we need is to add water.

Water sports - also known as watersports - are physical activities that can be practiced in indoor and outdoor salt or freshwater bodies.

And each water sport has its own disciplines.

Motorized water sports like jet skiing and powerboat racing were excluded from this category because they're not human or sail-powered physical activities.

The following list was sorted by the most searched water sports on Google in the United States.

The Water Sports List | From Most to Least Popular

1. Swimming

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, open water swimming, and high diving;
Governing Body: Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA);

2. Kayaking

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: surf kayaking, white water kayaking, marathon kayaking, freestyle kayaking, polo kayaking, slalom/race kayaking, extreme slalom kayaking, marathon kayaking, ocean race kayaking, and sprint kayaking;
Governing Body: International Canoe Federation (ICF);

3. Snorkeling

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: plain snorkeling, full-face mask snorkeling, bog snorkeling;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS);

4. Surfing

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: tandem surfing, shortboard surfing, longboard surfing, tow-in surfing, big wave surfing, wave skiing, and horse surfing;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA);

5. Sailing

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: fleet racing, match racing, team racing, offshore/oceanic racing, and speed sailing;
Governing Body: World Sailing (WS);

6. Water Polo

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: water polo;
Governing Body: Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA);

7. Canoeing

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: slalom canoeing, flatwater canoeing, and sprint canoeing;
Governing Body: International Canoe Federation (ICF);

8. Wakeboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: wakeboarding, cable wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and wakeskating;
Governing Body: International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF);

9. Rowing

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: sweep rowing and sculling;
Governing Body: World Rowing Federation (FISA);

10. Windsurfing

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: freestyle windsurfing, slalom windsurfing, wave windsurfing, speed windsurfing, foil windsurfing, super x windsurfing, and indoor windsurfing;
Governing Body: International Windsurfing Association (IWA);

11. Diving

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: diving, synchronized diving, and cliff/high diving;
Governing Body: International Swimming Federation (FINA);

Diving: not a water sport acrophobics | Photo: Red Bull

12. Rafting

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: sprint rafting, head-to-head rafting, slalom rafting, and downriver rafting;
Governing Body: International Rafting Federation (IRF);

13. Spearfishing

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: speargun spearfishing and sling/polespear spearfishing;
Governing Body: International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA);

14. Kiteboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: wave kitesurfing, strapless kitesurfing, freestyle kiteboarding, speed kiteboarding, big air kiteboarding, slalom/boardercross kiteboarding, course race kiteboarding, foil kiteboarding, snow kiteboarding, kite buggying, and land kiteboarding;
Governing Body: International Kiteboarding Association (IKA);

15. Freediving

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: constant weight, constant weight without fins, free immersion, variable weight, no limits, dynamic with fins, dynamic without fins, static apnea, speed endurance apnea, jump blue, and skandalopetra;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) and Association Internationale pour le Développement de l'Apnée (AIDA);

Freediving: a water sport with plenty of challenging disciplines | Photo: AIDA

16. Water Skiing

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: speed water skiing, trick water skiing, show water skiing, slalom water skiing, jump water skiing, barefoot water skiing, and wake skiing;
Governing Body: International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF);

17. Paddleboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: paddleboard racing technical and paddleboard racing distance;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA);

18. Skimboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: wave skimboarding and flatland skimboarding;
Governing Body: None;

19. Underwater Hockey

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: octopush/underwater hockey;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS);

20. Canyoning

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: canyoning;
Governing Body: Fédération Internationale de Canyonisme (FIC);

Canyoning: a water sport that combines walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and swimming | Photo: Creative Commons

21. Bodyboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: prone bodyboarding, drop-knee bodyboarding, and stand-up bodyboarding;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA);

22. Kneeboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: wave kneeboarding and wake-style kneeboarding;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA) and International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF);

23. Bodysurfing

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: bodysurfing and handplane surfing;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA);

24. Water Basketball

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: water basketball;
Governing Body: None;

25. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: SUP surfing, SUP racing technical, SUP racing distance, SUP sprint race;
Governing Body: International Surfing Association (ISA);

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP): a fast-growing water sport | Photo: Evans/ISA

25. Underwater Rugby

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: underwater rugby;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS);

27. Flowboarding

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: stand-up riding and bodyboarding;
Governing Body: None;

28. Finswimming

Type of Sport: Individual;
Disciplines: swimming pool finswimming and long distance finswimming;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS);

29. Kayak Polo

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: kayak polo;
Governing Body: International Canoe Federation (ICF);

30. Underwater Football

Type of Sport: Team;
Disciplines: underwater football;
Governing Body: Manitoba Underwater Council (MUC);

31. Sport Diving

Type of Sport: Individual and Team;
Disciplines: event M 300 meters, night diving, immersion 6 kg, obstacle course, and briefing;
Governing Body: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS);