Australian states will seek to complete the 7,154km distance to Tokyo ©Swimming Australia

Swimming Australia has launched its 2020 Australia Swims campaign, aimed at encouraging the public to commit to a distance they plan to swim in January for a nationwide challenge around Tokyo 2020.

The initiative, now in its third year, will mark the Olympic year by conducting a virtual race between states and territories to Tokyo.

The virtual race will start off the coast of Brisbane, with each commitment from a swimmer helping their region towards the total distance of 7,154 kilometres to the Olympic host city.

A live map and leaderboard has been set up on the Australia Swims website, which will allow people to track who is achieving the most kilometres and which state is in the lead.

The state which completes the total distance first will be rewarded, with two participants winning an exclusive travel package to Australia's team selection event in Adelaide.

Six regions will feature in the virtual race.

"I'm really excited to launch this year's Australia Swims campaign which takes on an Olympic and Paralympic element in 2020, as states and territories race to Tokyo," Australia Swimming chief executive Leigh Russell said.

"This initiative is all about inspiring people of all ages and abilities to get in the water, so it doesn't matter if you pledge 50 metres or 25 kilometres, every distance adds to your state's grand total and edges your region closer to the goal of 7,154km.

"Swimming is such a unique sport and recreational activity.

"Whether you're four years old and learning to swim, or 65 and swim each morning, there's no boundaries to who can hop in the water, and the positive impact it has on your physical and mental health is well documented.

"I'd also encourage everyone who participates in the challenge to download Swimming Australia's free iSwim app, so they track the distance they swim, commit their metres and keep up to date with open-water events happening near them.

"May the best, and most competitive, state win."

Australian states will contest the virtual race ©Swimming Australia
Australian states will contest the virtual race ©Swimming Australia

Last year's campaign saw thousands of people commit their distance, with a grand total of 40,358km.

This achieved the challenge set of lapping Australia - the figure also surpassed the 2018 total of 39,113km.

Swimming Australia has partnered with open-water events across the country during the campaign.

This includes the Pier to Pub in Lorne, the Portsea Swim Classic, the Great Australia Day Swim, the Great Victorian Swim Series, the World Swim Series and the Australian Open Water Championships in Adelaide.

The public are also encouraged to share their experience on social media with the hashtag #AustraliaSwimsToTokyo.

Distances can be committed on the Australia Swims website or through Swimming Australia’s free iSwim application.