People have enjoyed playing in the water for as long as humans have existed. The great number of water sports may be too high to count. However, these various sports can be divided into three categories. Some occur above water, some are in the water and others occur wholly underwater.
Surface water sports comprise a number of very different activities. Many of them involve a boat or some kind of object which serves as a vehicle for human occupants. Examples of such sports are canoeing, kayaking, sailing and rowing. While canoeing and kayaking are generally performed by single individuals or pairs, sailing and rowing involve entire teams. continued below ...
Then there are odd and unexpected versions of surface water sports. Parasailing is a sport that takes place above the water rather than on it. This requires a boat to pull someone wearing a parachute behind it. Some may debate whether this is simply recreation or actually a competitive sport. Fishing is another water sport, though some may not see what similarity it bears to sports such as bodyboarding and water skiing.
The water sports that come immediately to mind for most people are those that take place in the water. Many of these sports are represented in the Summer Olympics and viewed by billions of people world wide. The most famous examples include swimming and diving, each of which is further divided into various categories and competitions. Water polo is a lesser known water sport yet it has a loyal following. Still other sports incorporate water into a variety of activities. The triathlon and the pentathlon each include swimming in their assortment of challenges.
Unusual water sports include the recent spate of synchronized competitions in everything from the performance-based synchronized swimming to actual synchronized diving. Water aerobics is another aquatic sport, though some may classify it simply as exercise. Finally, water gymnastics is just the performance of gymnastic stunts and movements in the water.
There are sports which take place entirely under water. They may go entirely under most people's radar as well. However, there is no question that these activities are challenging sports. Many people think of scuba diving as something that they see on a science channel on television. However, divers do not wear all that cumbersome gear just for entertainment. Long distance swimming under those conditions is truly a challenge.
Free-diving is another unrecognized but truly difficult sport. The goal of free-diving has nothing to do with diving boards and swimming pools. Instead, free-divers seek to dive as deep as possible into aquatic environments without the aid of scuba equipment. This sport tests endurance as much or more than any other water sport.
The great variety of water sports may be a good indicator of human interest in these activities. They are as varied as they are complex in themselves. These sports test more than just physical endurance. Agility, both mental and physical, are required to excel at any of these competitions. Water sports demand the same amount of sacrifice that some of the more celebrated land sports expect.