View Full Version : ISO Newbie friendly open water swims

May 1st, 2006, 02:05 PM
Hi folks,

I'm thinking of trying some more open water swims this coming summer. Last summer, I did the Plunge for Patients in Wildwood, NJ (which took a lot of my available courage b/c of swimming through breakers, but I was glad I did it!), the Rainbow Channel Challenge in Somers Point, NJ--a nice mile bay swim (there was also a 2something mile swim, but I didn't feel ready for that), and (as part of an aquathlon) a 1/4 mile lake swim. Oddly, the lake swim made me more nervous than the bay swim b/c there were so many rusty pilings under the surface... I stayed on the deep side for most of the swim, then as soon as my hand touched one of the pilings during a stroke, I walked to shore, rather than risk scraping myself again.

I'd do any of these events again, but looking around for other possibilities as well.

I noticed this in my search:


It's a half mile "Cove to Cove" swim off Manhattan. I realize a half mile is not much, but I have no experience swimming near there, and if I tried one of the featured races, I'd want to get a feel for what it's like before doing a longer swim.

I'm in the Philly area, and travel will depend on available time/money... preferably would be good to find swims fairly nearby, but NYC isn't out of the question.

Thanks for any ideas!

Leonard Jansen
May 2nd, 2006, 08:04 AM
The Hudson River races (like the Cove-to-Cove) tend to be deceptive because you are swimming with the current and that makes the race shorter, time-wise. So the half-mile might actually take the time it normally takes you to swim 1/4 or 1/3 mile - it will be fun, but quick.

1) The Bridge-to-Bridge race (Atlantic City, NJ) in early July is excellent. They have 5k and a 1.3 mile events. The 5k is an out-and-back and the 1.3 is a straight swim. This is in the back bay, so no fighting the surf, etc.
2) Swim For Life - Chestertown, MD - They have 1,2,3,4,5 mile races. Very pretty setting & great post-race feed. Entry fee is steep ($100), but it's for a good cause.
3) Lehigh River Swim - Allentown, PA - a 1 and 2 mile swim in the Lehigh River. With the current, so they are easier than you'd expect. Lots of age group kids who kick your butt royally.
4) The 1 mile YATES inlet swim (Atlantic City, NJ) in August is a fun race because you are riding a roaring incoming tide - probably the fastest mile you'll ever swim.
5) If you are feeling brave, try the 1.5 mile Pageant Swim (Atlantic City) in early September. This has it all - surf, current, jellyfish, but is still do-able. As a bonus, at one point you are about 1/4 mile off-shore, but it looks like you are miles out.

To get more info, go to www.dvmasters.org and download the winter Lane Lines newsletter. This has Delia Perez's schedule of open water races in our area.


May 3rd, 2006, 11:35 AM
"Fun but quick"--actually that sounds good, since my usual swim pace is anything but quick! ... altho I'd be willing to go w/ a longer race that's "fun but less quick" if there's a reasonable chance i won't be hit by a tanker or something. ;) (The site also mentions "flotsam and jetsam"--how ugly does that get?)

p.s. Thanks for all the info. I checked out the dvmasters site and downloaded the newsletter. Interesting stuff in there, not only the calendar!

May 6th, 2006, 07:06 PM
Leonard and I met at the September Splash in Wildwood Crest last year. That was a fun race. www.lmsports.com has some races.
Hi Leonard!
Swimmy :)

May 7th, 2006, 10:20 PM
If you dont like jellyfish, boat traffic, floatsome and jetsome (trash, like light poles etc) in the water, dont do any of the NYC swims. LOL Although they are all well ran, and water quaility is up, still some exciting times can be had. Good Swimming

May 8th, 2006, 04:35 PM
Originally posted by Hoosier
If you dont like jellyfish, boat traffic, floatsome and jetsome (trash, like light poles etc) in the water, dont do any of the NYC swims. LOL Although they are all well ran, and water quaility is up, still some exciting times can be had. Good Swimming

I have experienced the (ha!) companionship of jellyfish, seaweed, and (not horrible) litter in water, but I shudder at hungry flotsam and jetsam. Are you allowed to use light posts as rafts? <jk> Boats: well, if I'm not being pulled into their propellars or otherwise mutilated by them.... You aren't, are you, talking about 900 foot tankers or some such? :eek: And how carefully are the races patrolled by volunteers?

The NJ races, such as the September Splash mentioned by Swimmy, have GREAT volunteer support! I did it four years ago--wasn't in any masters' group at the time, just an injured runner wanting some sort of competitive challenge (now I'm a healthy runner as well as swimmer... makes things a lot more fun). Made various newbie mistakes but had a great time (as in fun, not speed!)

Unfortunately, the Sept. Splash is the day before a big half marathon I run every Sept. (altho the darn race is getting so crowded lately, the Sept. Splash is looking better...).

May 8th, 2006, 10:37 PM
My daughter has competed in two of the NYC swims, each was very well ran, with a lot of support boats and kayaks both for support and protection from other boats. Just there were a few things in the water. :) During the Marathon she had more than one encounter with Jelly Fish, but that was in the East River. During the Little Red Lighthouse (8 miles down current) in the Hudson no encounters with them at all...nor during Marathon in Hudson River.

May 9th, 2006, 10:41 AM
I've decided I'm going to try 2 open water events this summer. They are not USMS sanctioned, but I have heard the water is clear, a bit cold, but free of all of the stuff you mention.

First one is August 6th in Harbor Springs, MI (Northwest part of Michigan - lower peninsula): http://hammerheadswimclub.weezyhost.com/

Second one is August 19th in Alpena (Northeast part of Michigan - lower peninsula):

You should come to Michigan for one or both events!

May 14th, 2006, 10:35 AM
Come to Southern California. Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach is a very good swim: about 1.8 miles; and there are many, many other locations. In two seasons, i have never encountered jelly fish or flotsam( my number may be up).
Groups meet at life guard towers every weekend. If your networked, you can swim any day.
There's a girls only group made up of intense tri A'ers and beginners; many beginners here. There could be a fee if you want an escourt or lesson. I can send the leader's email (I'd check with her 1st).


May 14th, 2006, 08:38 PM
The Hermosa to Manhattan swim application requires that you do a 500 meter qualifying swim on 3 specific dates in July - no exceptions. That really ups the cost for out of state swimmers.
Is the surf there that strong that they don't except other ocean swims as qualifying?

May 15th, 2006, 01:59 PM
I swam it saturday morning at 7:00 am. The water was 59 degrees and the ocean was as clear as glass, but no sun to help navigate It gets choppy later in the day, but the sun is out too.

If you don't prequalify, u can't officially enter in event ... i think it's sometime in August
But it's a public beach.... no one can keep you from running in and swimming with the others. If you want the shirt, you have to officially enter.

but forget the race: it's all brass knuckes and fists. just come to Cali and swim the various beaches. Start a swimming log and add an entry for each swim like - people do when they bird watch.

May 15th, 2006, 04:36 PM
Originally posted by suares
but forget the race: it's all brass knuckes and fists. just come to Cali and swim the various beaches. Start a swimming log and add an entry for each swim like - people do when they bird watch.

Good point - I start at the back of the pack and just swim to finish and enjoy the day. The races are just a good way of getting it on the calendar. I like the swim log idea.

May 16th, 2006, 11:03 PM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Probably most if not all my swims for now will be within easy traveling distance of the Philly area ($!)--but the swims listed here do sound pretty cool and I'll bookmark the sites for future reference.

I have managed an open water swim in the ocean, even though the (most likely remote) possibility of being a shark's lunch never exactly excites me. I guess the thing with open water is to be ready to take what it throws at you... and at the same time recognize limits/comfort zones...not always staying within them but at least having a healthy sense of what's stretching them and what's going over the top.

May 17th, 2006, 06:21 PM
Our date this year is August 19. The venue has changed to the Wisconsin Ironman course which is located off of Monona Terrace in downtown Madison, WI. Every year more than 2000 Ironman competitors swim this course. This year we are offering to Masters swimmers the opportunity to swim the course: either a 1.2 or 2.4 mile looped course. This is timed to be about 3-4 weeks before Ironman which will be Sept 10. This will be a USMS sanctioned Open Water competition. For information contact Peter Maternowski, meet director at mater@chorus.net or me, WIChair@usms.org Hope to see you in August!

Dick Pitman

May 22nd, 2006, 12:20 PM
How about an earlier swim? We have a very fun 2.5 K June 24 in La Jolla CA. Its a fundraiser and although there are some competitors its friendly, 2 years ago I swam along with some pool swimmers who were intimidated by the @50 dolphins who came with us. Once they calmed down I took off.