About This Festival
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.
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 a 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?
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.
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.