5 great open water swims in the U.S. for your swimming calendar

It’s that time of year up here in the northern hemisphere; summer time!   With hot weather, lot’s of daylight and warmer water it’s big time open water season.   With that in mind here’s some of our favorite open water swimming events.

1. The Newport Beach Pier to Pier Swim

This is a great 2 mile swim between the Balboa Pier and the Newport Pier run by the Newport Beach Lifeguard Department.  Lots of excitement and the potential for big south swell waves make it a challenge at the start and a waterman’s dream for catching the right wave at the finish.  Keep an eye out for Newport Beach Olympic hero Aaron Piersol who’s known for swimming this event along with other Olympians such as SoCal’s Chad Carvin.

2. The Waikiki Roughwater Swim

This labor day tradition has it all: clear, warm water.  Turtles and fish to admire along the way and a host of top swimmers from around the world that highlight the over 1100 swimmer field.  They even have a “fin” division for those who want to work their legs a bit more.  This 2.38 mile swim was the inspiration for the swim leg in the famed ironman triathlon. This is one event you want to make at least once in you life – AMAZING.

3. Chicago’s Big Shoulders Swim

Swimming in Lake Michigan in the summer is a far cry from the blustery winter scene that showcases Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive in the winter.  It’s beautiful in the summer and this event is always a sell out.   There are a 2.5K and 5K event and you got to hard to win this one – always a strong field.  Big Shoulders will serve as the 2015 US Masters 5K championship.

4. The Swim Across America Boston Harbor Swim

Swim Across America has raised millions of dollars to support local cancer research in communities thoughout the United States.  The Boston Harbor Swim is one of their crown jewels. It’s a 22 mile relay style swim The organization has a huge team of Olympians who support the organization’s efforts and participate their swims.   The Boston swim is a great event, but so are all their other swims – these are good swims for a great cause.

5. The La Jolla Rough Water Swim

This is one of the largest open water events in the United States and for good reason – The La Jolla Cove is amazing – an open water swimming mecca.  This event first kicked off in 1916.  This event runs all day and features multiple distances for kids, age group and masters swimmers.  The day concludes with the famed Gatorman 3 mile swim between the Cove and Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier.  Due to city of San Diego construction, the event is canceled in 2014 but undoubtedly it will be back strong on September 13, 2015

So these are merely five great swims.  Tell us about you favorite swim in the comments.  If you have a good open water swimming story share it with us. 

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist
5 years ago

Endwet 36 mile swim in Grand forks North Dakota
Lake Minnetonka 5 and 10 mile!

5 years ago

The Great Lake Plunge in Evanston, IL is a great swim. The organizers are super friendly and go out of their way to organize a great family and fun event.

8 years ago

Another GREAT swim, Hudson River Swim for Life, July 27th, 3mi and 1 mile options, two great charities; MAC Angels Foundation (supporting families with ALS),and the Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Win / Win!! Mighty Hudson for a great cause!! Here is the link for signup…


8 years ago

O*H*I*O Masters is hosting the 25th Annual Lake Erie Open Water Classic on August 10. 2mi, 1 mile and .5 mile, wetsuit and non-wetsuit. Come join us! Register here: http://www.ohiomasters.com/ohiomeets.htm

Also looking forward to my first Big Shoulders 5K in September.

8 years ago

Not sure if it is still being run, but up until about 2000 the Swim Around Key West (12.5 miles) was a terrific event.

8 years ago

The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. 4.4 miles from west to east across the bay, swimming most of the way between the two bridge spans. I completed it in ’95 and ’96.

The Lake Travis Relay (or Solo): 11-12 miles, either with 6-member teams or solo. Austin, TX. I did the solo race last year.

About Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis is a freelance commercial, sport and lifestyle photographer based in San Diego.  Mike began making photos in the early 80’s and immersed himself in all aspects of the photographic arts.  Mike’s professional career in in photography began after 12 years working within the United States Olympic movement; he …

Read More »