World Bog Snorkeling Championships

Aug 29, 2015
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
Photo by: Chris Prichard
If you think snorkeling is a bore, jump in and see what you think of a murky bog snorkeling race in Wales.

Video

Bog Snorkeling in Wales

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Essentials

Details

How have you been able to get by in life without bog snorkeling? Imagine a beautiful, white sand beach, kissed by crystal-clear, azure waters so warm that you barely need a swimsuit. Now, erase those images and replace them with a murky bog in the midst of a grassy field in Wales. That’s what we’re talking about.

This not-exactly-mainstream event was included in the World Alternative Games, a quirky list of outdoor events from finger jousting to worm charming to bathtub racing. If your athletic pursuits are varied and you’d prefer not to be just a specialist in bog snorkeling, this is your opportunity to shine.

If you find yourself in the tiny town of Llanwrtyd Wells during the annual World Bog Snorkeling Championships, you pretty much owe it to yourself to suit up and wade in to see what it’s all about. Whether you go for Speedo, wetsuit, or costume, just remember that there’s always a shower at the end of the day.

Town for Health Tourists

The town became a stop for spa travelers since 1732, when Reverend Theophilus Evans discovered a well inhabited by a very healthy looking frog. Evans determined correctly that the frog’s water might have some medicinal qualities. The sulfuric spring at Dolycoed became a destination for health tourists from all over Britain.

While the spa following didn’t last, in the 1980s the region found another way to lure crowds, this time with wacky events like bog snorkeling, mountain bike bog snorkeling, mountain bike chariot racing and the Man v. Horse Marathon. They’re all events just asking to be experienced, right?

Bog Snorkeling

Let’s say things like dirt under your nails, the smell of decaying organic matter and getting muddy make you nearly pass out. If you can’t get to your antibacterial hand sanitizer in seconds after touching the dirt, you might consider taking the prescriptive medicine Cipro. In that case, you’re a perfect spectator for bog snorkeling—where you can stand on either side of the trench without worrying about what’s in the dark water below.

But if you’re an adventurer, or simply like to try new experiences, this is a pretty simple sport. Wear appropriate gear (mask, fins, suit), check. Get into bog water, check. Swim, check. Try to go as fast as you can, and you may break the record. In that case, you probably should invest in a jacket with World Champion Bog Snorkeler sewn on the back, just for cocktail party conversation.

Competitive Strategy

Competitors race along two lengths of a 60-yard trench cut through the peat bog. Required equipment amounts to a mask or goggles, snorkel and flippers. No monofins are allowed. Because conventional swimming strokes (like crawl, breast stroke, butterfly) are not allowed, flipper power is the only way to get from beginning to end.

Hardcore racers don’t get a rest between both lengths, however if you’re not sure you can hack it, consider signing up for the Novelty category, which is costumed. Those entrants need only complete one length, however the additional strain of thinking up an award-winning costume that will make it through the bog may make you reconsider your strategy.

World Alternative Games

This not-exactly-mainstream event was included in the World Alternative Games, a quirky list of outdoor events from finger jousting to worm charming to bathtub racing. These games are intended to be held biannually, and occur over two weeks in August. If your athletic pursuits are varied and you’d prefer not to be just a specialist in bog snorkeling, this is your opportunity to shine.

Essentials

Details

How have you been able to get by in life without bog snorkeling? Imagine a beautiful, white sand beach, kissed by crystal-clear, azure waters so warm that you barely need a swimsuit. Now, erase those images and replace them with a murky bog in the midst of a grassy field in Wales. That’s what we’re talking about.

This not-exactly-mainstream event was included in the World Alternative Games, a quirky list of outdoor events from finger jousting to worm charming to bathtub racing. If your athletic pursuits are varied and you’d prefer not to be just a specialist in bog snorkeling, this is your opportunity to shine.

If you find yourself in the tiny town of Llanwrtyd Wells during the annual World Bog Snorkeling Championships, you pretty much owe it to yourself to suit up and wade in to see what it’s all about. Whether you go for Speedo, wetsuit, or costume, just remember that there’s always a shower at the end of the day.

Town for Health Tourists

The town became a stop for spa travelers since 1732, when Reverend Theophilus Evans discovered a well inhabited by a very healthy looking frog. Evans determined correctly that the frog’s water might have some medicinal qualities. The sulfuric spring at Dolycoed became a destination for health tourists from all over Britain.

While the spa following didn’t last, in the 1980s the region found another way to lure crowds, this time with wacky events like bog snorkeling, mountain bike bog snorkeling, mountain bike chariot racing and the Man v. Horse Marathon. They’re all events just asking to be experienced, right?

Bog Snorkeling

Let’s say things like dirt under your nails, the smell of decaying organic matter and getting muddy make you nearly pass out. If you can’t get to your antibacterial hand sanitizer in seconds after touching the dirt, you might consider taking the prescriptive medicine Cipro. In that case, you’re a perfect spectator for bog snorkeling—where you can stand on either side of the trench without worrying about what’s in the dark water below.

But if you’re an adventurer, or simply like to try new experiences, this is a pretty simple sport. Wear appropriate gear (mask, fins, suit), check. Get into bog water, check. Swim, check. Try to go as fast as you can, and you may break the record. In that case, you probably should invest in a jacket with World Champion Bog Snorkeler sewn on the back, just for cocktail party conversation.

Competitive Strategy

Competitors race along two lengths of a 60-yard trench cut through the peat bog. Required equipment amounts to a mask or goggles, snorkel and flippers. No monofins are allowed. Because conventional swimming strokes (like crawl, breast stroke, butterfly) are not allowed, flipper power is the only way to get from beginning to end.

Hardcore racers don’t get a rest between both lengths, however if you’re not sure you can hack it, consider signing up for the Novelty category, which is costumed. Those entrants need only complete one length, however the additional strain of thinking up an award-winning costume that will make it through the bog may make you reconsider your strategy.

World Alternative Games

This not-exactly-mainstream event was included in the World Alternative Games, a quirky list of outdoor events from finger jousting to worm charming to bathtub racing. These games are intended to be held biannually, and occur over two weeks in August. If your athletic pursuits are varied and you’d prefer not to be just a specialist in bog snorkeling, this is your opportunity to shine.

Essentials

Inside Scoop

Chip's Take

Chrisprichardbogsnorkeling   01

 

This part of the world has its share of quirky sporting events that serve as festivals. I loved going to the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll in Gloucester in late spring and, one of these days, I’ll make it to Wales for this event. (You can also find bog snorkeling in Australia, Ireland, and Sweden.) This competition is perfect for a trip to the country pub pre- or post-snorkel. Each year, a couple hundred folks enter the waters for this dark fantasy quest and there’s yet to be one snatched by a scary creature (the Loch Ness monster is up in Scotland).The Bog Snorkeling Competition has become a bit of a family reunion as there’s all kinds of folks who make this trek each year to be covered by mud and muck so you’ll find a real sense of camaraderie amongst the participants. If you’re going to be spectating, just know you’re likely to get muddy as well, and the Brits are used to afternoon showers from the heavens so bring some galoshes.

Location

This funky water-focused festival takes place at Waen Rhydd bog on the outskirts of Llanwrtyd Wells.