International Challenge of Swimming Across the Yangtze River
Since 1956, there have been 37 crossings of the Yangtze River. In 2002, the crossing of the Yangtze River first accepted international competitors including open water swimmers from the U.S.A, Germany, Russia, and Malaysia.
There is excellent prize money for the top 20 finishers:
The money is paid in Chinese RMB depending on the exchange rate published by the Bank of China.
Chairman Mao Zedong, at the age of 63, swam across the Yangtze River on 31 May 1956 which he replicated in 1958 and 1966. He said after his 1 hour 5 minute swim in 1966, "The Yangtze River is so wide and turbulent that it is suitable for swimming…its swift flow may train body and temper willpower."
On 9 September 1934, the first race across the Yangtze River in Wuhan was held. 44 swimmers took part in the 5 km race that started at the Wuchang Hanyangmen Dock and finished at the Hankou Sanbei Dock which was won by Ju Huaqiang who received a silver shield with the words: Struggle to Conquer the Huge Waves. On 22 September 1935 and 23 August 1936, Wuhan held the second and third races across the Yangtze River and the history continued. In June 1956, the Wuhan race had grown to 1,952 swimmers and was held continuously until 1992 with the exception of 1980-1983.
In 1993, Wuhan race was renamed as International River-crossing Festival, but the race was cancelled for 4 years starting in 1996. It was restarted in 2001 as the Wuhan Challenge Race of Swiftly Crossing the Yangtze River and in 2002, it was renamed as the International Wuhan Challenge Race of Swiftly Crossing the Yangtze River.