Google search trends and open water swimming

Google has a fun tool that lets you visualize trends in search queries submitted by its users. Google is often the first place people go to find out more about a given topic, so it’s a powerful measure of the public’s “interest” in that topic. Below are a few Google Trends graphs related to open water swimming.

Is open water swimming “growing”? 

search term: “open water swimming”

Some observations:

  • Interest in open water swimming is highly cyclical, with summer peaks and winter troughs. (Obviously.)
  • Two big “spikes” corresponding to the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.
  • Aside from the seasonal cycles and Olympic spikes, the peaks and troughs do seem to rising slightly over time.

What about two sub-genres of open water swimming: marathon swimming and triathlon swimming?
search terms: “marathon swim” (blue) vs. “triathlon swim”

As expected, triathlon swimming is consistently bigger than marathon swimming. One exception: the surge of interest associated with the London Olympic 10K marathon swim.

What about the Triple Crown events: English Channel, Catalina Channel, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim?

search terms: “english channel” swim (blue) vs. “catalina channel” swim (red) vs. “manhattan island marathon swim”

Catalina and MIMS hardly register a blip, compared to the interest in the English Channel.

The two pre-eminent schools of adult swimming development: Total Immersion and Swim Smooth:

search terms: “total immersion” swimming (blue) vs. “swim smooth”

TI is the longtime incumbent. But in late 2012, for the first time since Google has tracked these data, Swim Smooth has overtaken TI in search queries. Perhaps, people are realizing Swim Smooth offers a better product.

Three of the most famous marathon swimmers: Diana Nyad, Lynne Cox, and Penny Palfrey:

search terms: “diana nyad” (blue) vs. “lynne cox” (red) vs. “penny palfrey”

For whatever reason, people are fascinated by Diana Nyad. Penny Palfrey’s more successful, more legitimate Cuba-to-Florida attempt this past summer hardly registered a blip in comparison.

As big as the Great Nyad seems in our little sport, how does she compare to stars in the pool, such as Michael Phelps?

search terms: “diana nyad” vs. “michael phelps” (red)

And that’s why Phelps is worth $45 million, while marathon swimmers beg for sponsors.

Choose your sugar:

search terms: “hammer nutrition” (blue) vs. “gu energy” (red) vs. cytomax

Hammer overtook Cytomax in 2008 and hasn’t looked back. GU Energy Labs also seems to be making consistent progress in the marketplace.

Other ideas for search query comparisons? Try it yourself.