most popular water sports

The Most Popular Water Sports You May Want to Go For

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Are you planning to pick up one of the most popular water sports? Then, do it!

Water sports are physical activities or sports taking in the water, say swimming in all its varieties, on top of it like windsurfing, and below the surface such as diving. These can be in teams, for example, water polo, or in individual, practiced in lagoons, bays, lakes, rivers, and oceans. 

Water sports are a fantastic way of improving your experience. Of course, the land has plenty to give. With that being said, the water holds endless potential for some awesome fun. 

Here we curate a list of the water sports whose popularity is highest out there.

Their benefits

Doing water activities implies action and fun for anyone!

1. Give you the extra soothing feeling

Imagine the cascading sound of a stream flowing nearby. Else, how soothing you feel as watching fish swimming through a fish tank.

Are you fond of such relaxation? You can experience it too in an even more stunning way. Give diving a try and admire fish beyond an aquarium. Explore their natural habitat with sunken ships and coral reefs. You will feel as if you were reborn in another world.

2. Be fit

Like other sports, water activities are great for fitness and bodybuilding.

For example, diving and swimming make your core stronger and are fantastic as a cardio workout. At the same time, in comparison with running and other cardio workers, the injury risk involved with these activities is so much lower.

3. Engage your whole family

Why don’t your family enjoys a great time together by playing water sports? They are affordable and not that difficult to learn.

It is okay to practice kayaking without an instructor but on your own. When it comes to diving, we recommend getting an applicable license from an instructor so that you can stay away from accidents and injuries. On the other hand, diving is an awesome activity for kids and adults as well.

Over ninety disciplines of water sports had their presence in the Olympics sports event. Yet, telling how many more there are is hard. That is because of the invention of new water sports and the use of more modern equipment.

So, here, we bring you a rundown of popular water sports. With it, you can choose your best fit. 

1. Kayaking/ Canoeing

Kayaking and canoeing are held under ICF (International Canoe Federation) comprising of over 150 affiliated countries. On the one hand, kayaks and canoes are just about the same in concept and function. But on the other hand, their specifications and historical origins are different. The main contrast is that kayaks are closed while canoes are open on top. With canoes, you will sit on your knees and drive the boat forward with a single-blade paddle. As for kayaks, their closed construction helps keep water from entering the boat and you sit down there.

Coming to think of their popularity, you may get amazed by the TV viewership’s incredible increase during the Olympics with more than thirty million people watching the coverage. What is more? The World Championships often hosts over 45 thousand spectators and eighty million viewers on TV. Speaking of social media, you can find events tend to receive more than two million unique interactions. Likewise, 100 thousand people follow ICF across a variety of platforms.

Max Rendschmidt, Denis Gargaud Chanut, and Lisa Carrington are some of these activities’ most well-known athletes.

2. Fishing

Fishing is one of the most popular water sports that angler competitors catch various target fishes. Coming from recreational fishing, this sport uses baits, hooks, lines, reels, and rods as equipment. More often than not, competitions take place in deep waters, requiring a fishing boat.

For your information, sport fishing is under the government of CIPS (International Confederation of Sport Fishing). The body consists of more than 110 national federations. The national federations see around fifty million registered people. Moreover, fishing is a favorite pastime worldwide, implying it is out of the question to find over participation-related statistics. In America alone, there are about forty million recreational fishers.

What is likewise cool is, more than 550 million people around the globe see the FLW tour, known as the largest circuit of fishing, each season. Plus, the fan base is huge, considering a multitude of online posts, podcasts, and magazines,

For those wondering who are famous people in this sport, Mike Iaconelli and Ray Scott are among them. They are popular for how incredibly they perform in bass fishing. 

3. Water skiing

water skiing
Water skiing

This surface water sport involves one person pulled behind a boat or stuff, skimming the surface on one ski or two. It needs adequate area on a body of water, a personal flotation device, and two persons or three (based on the local boating regulations). Sure, there requires a towboat and one ski or two. People tend to watch and take part in waterskiing for enjoyment on rivers, lakes, and in the coastal area. 

IWWF (International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation) governs this sport. And there are over ninety registered member countries. 

In North America alone, there are around eleven million participants where waterskiing is super popular. Also, Australia sees more than one million partaking in the sport. It is indeed one of the waterski hotspots. This water sport stays a niche interest with a huge following in America and among participants as well. The open-air aspect likewise attracts a substantial amount of audience to various events. 

4. Diving

Being among the most popular water sports, diving has to do with falling into water from a springboard or platform. Organized FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), the sport has welcomed about thirty countries in the last Olympics. And over twenty countries get attracted to the FINA Grand Prix and whatnot. Around the world, there are about one million divers, which indeed does not include recreational diving from cliffs, overhangs, etc.

It is also worth mentioning that more than eighty percent of the Olympics viewers via TV watched diving at some point of the event. The attention is every four years. But the same as other niche sports, this water sport has a solid fan base following it all year long. Likewise, there are more than half a million followers on FINA social media.

Tom Daley, David Boudia, and Aisen Chen are some of the most outstanding performers in diving. Out of women, Ruolin Chen has gained great fame. 

5. Surfing

In this surface water sport, a surfer or tandem surfers use a surfboard to ride on the face or forward section of a moving water wave. This act often carries you towards the shore ISA (International Surfing Association) houses surfing, and there involves over 100 member countries all around the globe. 

It is worth addressing that this sport is predominantly well-known in America, yet there are surfing communities wherever a coastline and enough waves are present. Peru, Australia, and France have remarkable surfing cultures, too. Plus, you may be interested in the World Surf League practically like the ISA. The critical difference is it consists of professional surfers instead of nations and holds the major professional regular-season events. Better yet, every year sees an increase by around thirty percent in surfing participation, which makes surfing among the globe’s fastest-growing sports.

What is more to get impressed? In 2017 alone, more than fourteen million people saw World Surf League event streams. Generally speaking, surfing fans are young compared to lots of traditional sports. That is why the amount of online content is prevalent. The WSL, for instance, has attracted around seven million fans on social media. 

Taylor Jensen, Paige Alms, Tyler Wright, and Kelly Slater are a few of the surfing stars. 

6. Windsurfing

Windsurfing is among the most popular water sports on lakes and coasts. It combines qualities of both surfing and sailing. You use the wind to move a board forward under your feet and skim over the water. This sport’s equipment includes a boom, mast, sail, and board. 

World Sailing houses international windsurfing and more than 100 member states are joining the competition. Over 35 of these took part in the men’s Olympics event and over 25 nations partook in the women’s event. About seventy nations joined the well-loved RS:X class events around the globe. Notably, during the eighties, one in three households in America had a windsurfing board.

Marina Alabau, Pierre Le Coq, and Nick Dempsey are famous windsurfing names.

7. Kitesurfing


Kitesurfing is a well-loved extreme sport. Here, you rely on wind power with a sizable power kite to get pulled on a snow, land, or water surface. It combines elements and qualities of skateboarding, paragliding, snowboarding, windsurfing, and wakeboarding. To play this sport, you will need some basic gear, say a harness, control bar, kite, and board. 

World Sailing governs kitesurfing. Yet, IKA (International Kiteboarding Association), KRU (Kiteboarding Riders United), and GKA (Global Kitesport Association) operate a few events. Among over 100 membership of World Sailing, more than fifty member countries partake in the sport. 

Kiteboarding is an incredible sport. You may be into its freestyle discipline. Further, those engaged in outdoor physical activities tend to consider it one of the most popular water sports. Red Bull plays a part in popularizing kitesurfing as well. 

This sport becomes favored with a youthful appeal. It is safe to state that the number of fans is increasing every year. Reportedly, around 1.5 million people have engaged in kiteboarding activities spanning across countries. 

8. Swimming

Swimming is a team or individual sport needing the use of your whole body to move through the water. It is operated by FINA involving over 200 member federations that represent virtually all the nations in the world. 

As you may know, swimming is among the oldest activities related to water familiar to human beings. Our transformative origins are from our capability of navigating rivers, lakes, and seas. Swimming acted as a survival form, to begin with, and transportation afterward. Over time, it has become a favorite water activity in just about any country on the planet. From the recreational thing to do to the professional elite, this sport’s reputation is ever-growing.

It is extra challenging to define a specific number for global interest in swimming. According to a rough numerical estimate, about 4.5 billion people in the globe see the FINA World Aquatics Championships. The figure is comparable when it comes to fans watching the Olympics. 

Speaking of famous athletes in this field, you may have heard of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky in America.

9. Sailing

Sailing powers sails and moves the boat forward by employing wind instead of engines. While surfing and windsurfing take place on a board, it has to do with using an enclosed boat. 

Over 100 member countries are under the governing body of World Sailing operating eight main disciplines. Among these, more than 250 sailors from over sixty countries joined the sailing events of Rio. Around the planet, there are about twenty million regular sailors. Sailing is among the most popular water sports partly thanks to its recreational appeal through the yachting scene, rental service, and beach resorts.

Talking about stars in sailing, Ben Ainslie is notable with many medals at various t games and lots of world championship victories. Few other sailors boast such worldwide recognition.

10. Rowing

rowing water sports

Rowing involves the use of oars to race boats. More than 150 member nations around the globe are under the umbrella of FISA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron). FISA is among the planet’s most established federations and became the first to take part in the Olympics.

Over 65 of the member countries attended the last Olympics with upwards of 540 rowers. While there are no worldwide figures for participation, in Germany, America, the UK, and other heartlands, a multitude of people partake every so often. 

More than seven million people see The Boat Race, one of this sport’s hugest events, on TV. Even more, over 200 thousand audiences enjoy it on the Thames river banks. More than three million American people view the Olympic rowing events.

Who are some of the rowing celebrities? Elisabeta Lipa-Oleniuc boasted many medals across different Olympics. Steve Redgrave was the medal winner at multiple Olympic games. 

11. Dragon boating

Dragon boating should be on the list of the most popular water sports. It is brimming with fun and is defined as an adrenaline-pumping activity. Competitions are between teams in dragon boats known as big canoe-like vessels equipped with elaborately carved dragon tails and heads. 

IDBF (International Dragon Boat Federation) is the governing body of more than seventy member nations. Upwards of thirty countries frequently join the World Nations Championships. Club Crew World Championships see the participation of more than 5000 members from 100 dragon boat clubs every year. 

There are around fifty million dragon boaters in China alone. About 100 thousand people in North America partake in races regularly. And about 300 thousand people in the European participation statistics. There is an increase in interest in other parts of the globe, say Africa and Oceania.

All over the planet, dragon boating is more and more well-known in part because of the sport’s open-air aspect and the twenty-paddler crews. These champion a sense of cóniderable comradery that you cannot see in traditional boat racing.

12. Powerboating

Powerboats give a fast, versatile, quite affordable, and fascinating way to enter the boating scene. Owing to their speed and ease of being towed behind your car, powerboats are fantastic for trips and whatnot. 

Like the most popular water sports mentioned in this rundown, power boating has its governing body. Housed under UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique), it has welcomed more than sixty member nations.

You may get impressed that millions of people tend to follow this sport’s events. There are hundreds of thousands of followers over various social media channels. Events attract a large number of spectators along waterways.

13. Water polo

water polo
Water polo

Let’s wrap up the list with an exciting sport. Water polo is a competitive team activity played in the water between two seven-player teams. The game comprises four quarters that the teams throw the ball into the competitor’s goal, trying to score goals. The winner is the team with more goals. 

FINA houses this sport and draws the participation of over 200 member countries, Water polo players are men and women alike. About forty percent of those playing are female.

It is also worth mentioning that viewership of this sport rockets to the billions of people worldwide during the World Championships and Olympic Games.

All in all

More and more people like the most popular water sports as they are a blast and allow you to join with buddies and family seamlessly. Aside from being fun-filled, they help with your health and fitness. All you need is the enthusiasm to take up a new sport. 

Those who are enthusiastic enough have a lot to select from. Surfing, swimming, fishing, and then some – the water indeed can cater to any needs and wants, regardless of your skill level. Consider the list of the most favorite water sports above and decide what interests you the most.