The complete list of water sports

February 20, 2020 | 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 of all, we have to set up a criteria for validating water sports. So what is and defines a sport?

The majority of sources define sport as an individual or team, athletic activity that involves physical exertion and 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 a combination of 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 are 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 both physical exertion and mental prowess.

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

Chess involves much kin-aesthetic movement. The world's top chess grandmasters need to keep their bodies in shape to perform at the highest level.

According to doctors and scientists, in a multi-day tournament, a chess player could burn up to 6,000 calories a day. 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 a lot of 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 written as watersports - are physical activities that can be practiced in both indoor and outdoor bodies of salt or freshwater.

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 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);

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