Open Water

What is open water swimming?

Open water swimming takes place outdoor, in bodies of water like oceans, lakes, and rivers. In Canada, we are lucky enough to have plenty of those, making it the perfect place to try out this both young and old discipline — it was first presented at the Olympics in Beijing, in 2008, but its origins go back way before that, in the ancient times. Since 2008, the sport has known a boost in popularity with many racing opportunities added each year. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and try another form of training!


Swimmers take place in a mass start, either in the water, on a beach, or diving from a platform. They must swim around floats that delimit the course and must wear the start number on their body, and often chips on their wrists to record time. If a swimmer completes the event without the chip, they will be disqualified. Since the races occur in an outdoor body of water, there are no starting block, no lanes, and no walls. The changing weather makes it an interesting challenge, because the conditions can vary during a race.

There are many different types of races: some allow swimmers to wear a wet suit, others don’t, you can swim in rivers, oceans or lakes, and the distances vary tremendously. From 1k to over 50k, anyone can find a race to fit their ability! You can also choose from competitive or non-competitive events, depending on your level of experience and your goal.

Hundreds of events take place in each across Canada (and all over the world!), why don’t you try one now?