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Sunday, May 30, 2010

50 Great Open Water Swimming Locations In The Americas

Great places to conduct open water races or do training sessions are located all over the world. The number of seashores, ocean fronts, islands, lakes, bays, river, fjords, canals, estuaries, bays and lagoons located on every continent and in every country is literally innumerable.

As a small sampling of the amazing number of great global open water swimming locations, the Outdoor Swimming Society has done a remarkable job in documenting and posting these open water swimming venues throughout Great Britain.

A list of 50 outstanding open water swimming locations in the Americas - in no particular order - is listed below. This admittedly subjective list is based on three primary criteria: natural beauty, the year-round presence of open water swimmers and the camaraderie of the local swimming community.

1. Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA: coastal location of innumerable races
2. Lake Travis near Austin, Texas, USA: one of the marvelous lakes among rolling hills of Texas where the open water swimming and triathlon communities come together for year-round practice sessions, clinics, long-distance relays, community events and competitive races, including high school and collegiate championships, that are sponsored and organized by the American Swimming Association
3. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, USA: pleasantly calm tropical beach on the island of Oahu
4. Ala Moana Beach, Hawaii, USA: protected flat-water swimming beach on Oahu
5. Lake Cane, Orlando, Florida, USA: popular lake in central Florida
6. Brighton Beach, New York, USA: a coastal community on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York City
7. Aquatic Park, San Francisco Bay, California, USA: protected cold-water popular swimming area near Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf
8. Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, California, USA: a conveniently located beach, with Tower 26 as its focal point for triathletes, open water swimmers and fitness enthusiasts in the Los Angeles area. Groups, small and large, organized and informal, competitive and low-key, young and old, train for triathlons and ocean swims along the wide expanse of sand that offers currents, waves and surface chop on most afternoons.
9. Acapulco, Mexico: old coastal tourist destination in an exotic locale
10. Bermuda: popular tourist destination in the Atlantic Ocean warmed by the Gulf Stream
11. La Jolla Cove, California, USA: small beach within the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, a marine refuge area where a passionate community of open water swimmers, channel swimmers, adventure swimmers of every age, ability and background gather year-round. Competitive events have been conducted since 1916 including several events sponsored and organized by the La Jolla Cove Swim Club
12. Cancun, Mexico: site of warm, tropical water in the Caribbean Sea and a number of high-caliber amateur and professional swims
13. Lake Zirahuen in Michoacán, Mexico: a beautiful lake to prepare for cold-water and channel swims where motor craft is restricted
14. Las Estacas, Mexico: a river in Morelos where warm water comes from volcanoes, 90 minutes from Mexico City
15. La Paz in Mexico: a beautiful location at the end of Baja California with abundant marine life
16. Oak Street Beach, Lake Michigan, USA: convenient urban beach in Chicago, Illinois
17. Washington Avenue Beach in Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA: swim around and to Madeline Island in the beautiful and mighty Lake Superior
18. Panajachel in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: a deep lake in the Guatemalan Highlands surrounded by three volcanoes
19. Torch Lake, Michigan, USA: described as the third most beautiful lake in the world by Natural Geographic (see above)
20. Waldo Lake, Lane County, Oregon, USA: a wilderness lake, scooped out by ancient glaciers, that is one of the purest in the world where you can see to depths of 30 meters
21. Lake Memphremagog between Vermont, USA and Quebec, Canada: site of professional and amateur swims in a lake where the local community is extremely supportive
22. Miami, Florida, USA: swim in the warm southern Florida waters with the Miami skyline as a backdrop in a picturesque tropically urban setting
23. Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Connecticut, USA: two miles of safe shoreline swimming in northeast America
24. Long Island Sound in Connecticut, USA: an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean between Connecticut to the north and Long Island, New York to the south that has produced a large number of English Channel swimmers
25. Manhattan, New York City, USA: while not open to training, races around Manhattan Island produced by the NYC Swim, provides unbeatable views of municipal swims and challenging currents and tides to deal with. However, the safety considerations and on-the-water safety personnel provided by the NYC Swim organizers make each race a memorable experience. Events range from short cross-river swims to the famous 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim
26. Mirror Lake, upstate New York, USA: one of two lakes in Lake Placid, located in a small-town destination area with cable swimming
27. Sky Lakes (Minnewaska, Awosting, Mohonk) in the Shawangunk Mountains, New York, USA: aqua colored mountain lakes with spectacular scenery during all seasons especially with fall foliage in breathtaking cold water.
28. Cape Eleuthera in the Bahamas: isolated, spartan with abundant marine life with wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs.
29. Lake Willoughby in Vermont, USA: a beautiful glacier lake with races organized by the passionate Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association. One of a number of lovely lakes of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where the clarity and tranquility of the lakes rival any in North America. The geological aquatic marvels are the venues for a number of triathlons and open water swims from 1-10 miles
30. Rosario in Argentina: site of the world-renowned marathon where the swimmers are treated like stars
31. Lac Megantic in Quebec, Canada: beautiful nature augmented by a supportive local community
32. Hanauma Bay on Oahu in Hawaii, USA: a protected marine life conservation cove and underwater park with abundant marine life and a large coral reef and a bay floor is the crater of an ancient volcano
33. Makapuu near Rabbit Island on Oahu in Hawaii, USA: popular bodysurfing beach with large waves and riptides can make swimming challenging at best and hazardous at worst
34. North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, USA: gorgeously famous stretch of surfing beaches with high surf and impossible riptides in winter becomes a wonderfully calm showcase for ocean swimming in summer
35. Harrington Sound in Bermuda: each swim is breathtaking with underwater scenery that is continuously enthralling
36. Catalina Channel off the coast of Southern California, USA: on a calm, windless, clear, full-moon night, the bioluminescence is a marvel to behold. Part of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, the channel presents a 21-mile challenge between Catalina Island and the Southern California mainland with marine wildlife that includes whales and dolphins
37. Twelvemile Beach in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior in Michigan, USA: an example of thousands of lakes in the upper Midwest
38. Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island in the Cayman Islands: beautiful stretch of tropical beaches with clear water
39. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas in Mexico: distinctive rock formation at the tip of Cabo San Lucas at the southern end of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula
40. Percé Rock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, Canada: one of the largest natural arches in the world that rises sheer from the near the village of Percé, Canada
41. Maracas Bay in Trinidad & Tobago: popular swimming beach 30 minutes from the Port of Spain with a long history of ocean swims and strong local support
42. Lake Ontario: a supportive community of swimmers enjoys the cooler waters of the great Lake Ontario's Canadian side.
43. Varadero Beach in Cuba: offering the brightest blue waters in the Northern Hemisphere
44. Maui Channel in Hawaii, USA: swimming year-round on the Maui Island side is calm and peaceful, but in early September, the channel becomes alive with hundreds of swimmers enjoying the often tranquil, but sometimes rough, deep-water channel
45. Lake Tahoe bordering the states of California and Nevada, USA: crisp, clear lake comes alive in the summer when hundreds of swimmers participate in solo and relay swims
46. Valparaíso in Chile: an urban seaport with a local ocean swimming community
47. Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada: a vibrant open water swimming community with a number of swims and events in the city by the sea
48. Ketchikan in Alaska, USA: a quiet, isolated, rugged stretch in the northern Pacific that has drawn swimmers from all over the world
49. Santa Barbara in California, USA: channel swimming, weekend swims, ocean swims are all strongly supported by a passionate, friendly group of swimmers
50. St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands: swimmers come from all over the Americas to swim within the largest island barrier reef system in the Caribbean

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association


  1. Thank you for this web-site and list. I am a runner, mostly...but would love to do more open water swimming. Unfortunately the resources and availability for events is scarce compared with running. Keep it up! Let's create a open water swim boom.

  2. Thank you very much for the encouragement. We prepared a massive Open Water Swimming Almanac and an Open Water Swimming Dictionary to help promote the sport for the millions of people who are getting into a sport that first caught the attention of the public in 1823 (with the first professional open water swim).

  3. There are over 3,000 open water swims held in 158 countries according to our database with an estimated 16 million enthusiasts worldwide. The boom is happening, quietly and without fanfare unlike the marathon running boom of the 1970s or the triathlon boom of the 1980s or the beach volleyball boom of the 1990s. Swimmers tend to be a mellow, low-key crowd compared to their terrestrial endurance colleagues.


Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
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Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


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