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Friday, December 20, 2013

Great Cities In America For Open Water Swimming

In a country where there are tens of thousands of miles of shoreline and millions of endurance athletes, fitness swimmers, triathletes, competitive swimmers and open water swimmers, there are innumerable places to train, race and explore in open bodies of water.

But like politics in Washington D.C., finance in New York City, entertainment in Los Angeles, IT in Seattle and software in Silicon Valley, there are certain areas around the United States were there is a convergence of open water swimmers (fitness + competitive + triathlon), year-round opportunities to swim, a number of organized events and an overall ambiance oriented to the sport.

These cities include:

1. Honolulu, Hawaii
2. San Francisco, California
3. La Jolla (San Diego), California (shown above)
4. Boston, Massachusetts
5. New York/Brooklyn, New York
6. Clearwater/Tampa Bay, Florida
7. Atlantic City/Ocean City, New Jersey
8. Miami, Florida
9. Washington D.C.
10. Indianapolis/Noblesville, Indiana
11. Chicago, Illinois
12. Austin, Texas
13. Laguna Beach (Orange County), California

For additional hidden gems of the American open water swimming community, there are numerous other locations including:

1. Chattanooga, Tennessee
2. Atlanta, Georgia with Lake Spivey
3. Fort Myers, Florida
4. Branson, Missouri with Table Rock Lake
5. Seattle, Washington
6. Las Vegas, Nevada with Lake Mead
7. Derby, Vermont with Lake Willoughby / Lake Memphremagog
8. Salt River, Arizona
9. Salt Lake City, Utah
10. Bend, Oregon with Elk Lake
11. Orlando, Florida with Lake Cane

For more information on open water swimming in America, visit America's Top 100 Open Water Swims and Ultra Swims Around America.

Lower photo by Phil White of the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association escorting swimmers in Lake Willoughby, Vermont.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association


  1. Brooklyn, NYC, home of the CIBBOWS. Top 5, at the very least. Interesting you left them off, Steve.

  2. Good catch. Well-deserved group of NYC-based swimmers and community.

  3. Yes, the community around the D.C. (and its environs) first caught our attention when Fletcher Hanks was doing lots of exciting things in the sport in the 1970s. Then his legacy was carried on by a number of individuals over the decades. In 2010 at the U.S. Masters Swimming international convention on open water swimming safety, we were very impressed with a number of individuals from the Washington D.C. area who were leading open water swimming clinics, weekend outings, training camps for newbies, triathletes and open water swimmers. They faced a number of obstacles, but these passionate individuals continue to create an ambiance of open water swimming excellence. Do you have a different opinion?

  4. What? Laguna Beach has been relegated to #13 in the blink of an afternoon???

  5. No, in doing the research for this list, we consulted with experienced, well-traveled swimmers in various states. We had New York on the original list and then in the course of cutting and pasting everyone's comments, we inadvertently deleted New York. Evan (above) caught our error and we added New York (and Brooklyn)…which meant that Laguna Beach became #13. Lucky 13. Our apologies, but the wonderful ambiance and opportunities of swimming in Laguna Beach and Orange County year-round remains where ample parking, numerous restaurants, warm showers, wide sandy beaches, dolphins, seals, lifeguards, relatively mild weather and friendly lifeguards are a year-round constant.

  6. Cool, I'm glad you added NYC. By the way, Miami is listed twice - #7 and #12.

  7. Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwwater should be near the top of any list like this. We have several pods swimming open water daily at several locations around Tampa Bay, including Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, St. Pete Beach, Davis Island, and down in Sarasota at Siesta Key. I don't have pictures from today, but here are from last Saturday's get together at Carlouel Yacht Club at Clearwater Beach, Florida:


    http://www.shallowspot.com/ Info and directions to Tampa Bay open water workouts
    http://www.distancematters.com/ 24 MIle Tampa Bay Marathon Swim and Open Water Boot Camp
    https://www.facebook.com/CaptainCudaOWS Facebook group
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/130589510309009/ Facebook for Frogman
    http://www.tampabayfrogman.com/ Frogman 5k swim to raise $ for vets annually in January
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/150387825138176/ Swim Across America Tampa Bay

    To be honest, our region should be near the top of any list, but never #1 because our water gets way too hot in the summertime. July and August temperatures at Clearwater Beach can reach as high as 91F, so any prolonged effort by a marathoner would likely end in dehydration, nausea and seasickness. So, we train on technique and do amphibious drills June 1 to October 1st, and we acclimate to the cold water and do qualifying swims during the winter since our water is usually around 60F Jan - Mar.

    Check and track Tampa Bay Open Water Swimming Temperature by visiting the NOAA buoy at Pier 60, Clearwater Beach, Florida:


  8. That second picture looks like Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY.


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

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

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Open Water Swimming Magazine

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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.

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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.

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