2015 area events

June 13: Swim Around Key West. Key West
Sept. 19: Swim for Alligator Lighthouse. Islamorada
Oct. 4: Tropical Splash. Sarasota
Oct. 11: Round the Sound Swim. Bermuda

2015 area results

Apr. 12: Swim Around Lido Key. Sarasota
May 2: Hurricane Man. St. Petersburg

2014 area results

Jan. 19: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim. Tampa
Apr. 12: Crippen Sunset Mile. Miromar Lakes
Apr. 13: GCST 5K Open. Miromar Lakes
Apr. 19: Swim Miami. Miami
May 3: Hurricane Man (1000-yd). St. Petersburg
June 14: Swm Around Key West. Key West
Sept. 20: Alligator Lighthouse Swim. Islamorada
Oct. 4: Tropical Splash: 1K results & 2.5K results. Sarasota

2013 area results

Apr. 6: Swim Miami. Miami
Apr. 27: USMS 5K National Championship. Miromar Lakes
Apr. 27: Crippen Mile. Miromar Lakes
May 4: Hurricane Man. St. Petersburg
June 13: Pan Am Championships 1K - 3K. Sarasota
June 22: Key West Open Water Swim. Key West
Sept. 21: Alligator Lighthouse Swim. Islamorada
Oct. 5: Tropical Splash 5K. Sarasota

2012 area results

2011 area results

2010 area results

Apr. 17: Nike Swim Miami: 1-mile/5K/10K
May 8: Hurricane Man. St. Pete Beach
May 29: Tri This 1-mile. Clearwater
May 29: Ed Gaw Memorial. Fernandina Beach
June 12-13: Open Water Festival. Ft. Myers Beach
June 12: Swim Around Key West. Key West
June 19: Tri This 1-Mile. Clearwater
July 17: Tri This 1-Mile. Clearwater
Oct. 2: Dixie Zone Champs. Sarasota
Oct. 17: Ocean Challenge. Hollywood Beach

2009 area results

April 25: Swim Miami 10K | 5K | Mile
June 12 & 14: Open Water Festival (5K - 1.5K). Ft. Myers Beach
Oct. 3: Daiquiri Deck Tropical Splash. Sarasota
Oct. 4: Boca Mile. Boca Raton
Oct. 11: Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans. Ft. Myers Beach

2008 area results

April 12: Swim Miami: mile-5K-10K
April 19: Tampa Bay Marathon Swim.
May 10: Hurricane Man. St. Pete Beach
May 31: Masters Mile. Fort Myers Beach.
June 1: 10K Open. Fort Myers Beach
June 21: Swim Around Key West. Key West
Oct. 4: Tropical Splash. Sarasota
Oct. 19: Bermuda Around the Sound. Bermuda
Nov. 9: Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans. Fort Myers Beach

Safety & medical issues

The following were written by Jim Miller and are extracted from the USA Swimming open water web pages


Competition hints & articles


Other events

  • USMS Open Water/Long Distance Championships















Open Water Basics

Check it out

Before you swim a stroke, it's important to educate yourself about the body of water. You want to be able to picture the course in your head during the swim, especially at the start when there are a lot of swimmers and a lot of churning water. Know where you're going! Learn about the currents or tides. Ask what the bottom is like, or wade in and check it for submerged rocks, weeds, or fallen trees. Make sure the water is clean enough for safe swimming. Ask the organizers about marine life -- jellyfish or snapping turtles, or other things that bite or sting.

Shore up

If you're a newcomer, stay close to the shore. Test your mettle beforehand by going back and forth across a roped-in swimming area. Don't start out by just heading straight out across a lake and then find out halfway across that you're having a panic attack. Start off by swimming along the ropes, where it's not that deep, so if you get freaked out, you can always swim in a few yards and stand up.

Don't swim solo

Do your training swims as part of a group (the social aspect adds to the experience) or, at least, make sure someone on shore is watching you. If you get tired during the swim, rest by doing backstroke or breaststroke.

Be sensible

Swimming with a buddy isn't the only smart thing to do in oepn water. It also helps if you wear a bright-colored swim cap, return to shore before darkness falls, put sunscreen on your back on sunny days, and make sure you have enough energy to make it back to shore. The big thing is safety.

Cozy up to cold

The temperature in open water can be 10 degrees or more colder than a pool. Be prepared! Start with short swims and build up to longer ones as your body adapts. Have a physical exam before you dive into chilly open water. Feel free to wear a setwuit and insulated swim cap if the water is too cold. Be on the alert for symptoms of hypothermia -- drowsiness, loss of coordination, confusion, and a general slowing down of mental and physical function -- which can occur when your body temperature drops more than 4 degrees below normal. When you go from an 82-degree pool into a 68-degree lake or ocean, there's a period of adjustment, even if you're in good shape.

Race right

It's important to warm up completely before an open-water event. Test the water, get comfortable with its temperature, inspect the bottom, and loosen up your limbs. Do some dryland exercises to get your muscles moving. Warm up with some calisthenics, which also help dissolve pre-race jitters.

Start right

The start of an open-water swim is always tricky: scores of swimmers are diving in together and heading for the same distant buoy. There's a lot of bumping. To avoid the mayhem, line up on the far outside of the starting pack and angle toward the turn buoy.After 100 yards or so, the group will have separated and you can find all the open sapce you need.

Breathe right

Beware of a weird and unpleasant phenomenon that can occur during the first few strokes of an open-water race: you may find you can't breathe correctly. Suddenly you feel as though you've lost the ability to swim. Even athletes at the front of the pack aren't immune. Slow down, relax, flip on your back, or do some breaststroke. Take long, slow breaths and soon you'll settle into a normal breathing pattern and be on your way.

This article was condensed from an article in Fitness Swimmer magazine that was published on-line at www.activeusa.com

Pool tips for open water training

Six pool drills to improve open water skill, efficiency, and speed

Even if you're swimming in your local lake, reservoir, or ocean this summer, chances are you'll still be logging some miles in the pool. Michael Collins, chairman of the United States Masters Swimming coaches' committee, offers these tips on using your summer pool time to improve skill, efficiency and speed in open water:

1. Close your eyes: Swim 8-10 strokes in the pool with your eyes closed, then sight above water. This will help you learn to swim straight without using the bottom as a guide.

2. Get off to a fast start: Practice a few sets of fast starts, followed by settling down to a more relaxed pace. This simulates the quick starts typically found in open-water events as participants angle for position before settling in to their paces.

3. Dolphin it: Practice dolphin dives in a shallow pool to learn to get in and out of open-water venues more quickly than running often allows. Make sure never to dive in from the side of the pool, but rather practice short dolphin dips from a standing position once in the shallow water.

4. See what you can see: Practice regular sight-breathing in the pool. Start by looking up every eight strokes, eyeing a target past the end of the lane (a window, deck chair or small building will do) and gradually work up to more strokes between sight-checks. Sight-breathing in the pool also will help train the muscles you need to lift your head.

5. Be efficient: Lower your stroke count per lap in order to swim more efficiently. Try a clinic, workshop or lessons for some new perspective.

6. Put the rubber to the road: Try out a brand-new wetsuit in the pool before using it in open water. Even with a wetsuit you already own, wear it for a few pool practices before a race. The pool provides a safe and comfortable environment to adjust for the way the wetsuit changes your feel for the water and body position.

first published on the USMS web site's News Bulletin page on May 1, 2003

Open water racing veteran shares 10 tips for novices

    By Alex Kostich

John Flanagan has managed to excel. A 1994 Olympic Festival champion in the 400-meter freestyle, John also made his mark as a member of Auburn University's NCAA championship team in 1997. Upon graduating magna cum laude in finance that same year, he continued his swimming career in open water, earning gold medals at the 1998 World Championships and the 1999 Pan Pacific Games.

"The most important aspect of open-water swimming is experience," Flanagan says. "Get out and do it a much as you can."

Because open-water swimming includes many variables that differ from pool swimming, the only way to get better is by experience and exposure to the various conditions that the sport has to offer.

"Personally," Flanagan explains, "I enjoy the sport because it forces you to look at your effort to measure performance, rather than times. Not every day are we able to swim a best time in the pool, but we can always strive for giving our best effort during a race. Because of different conditions, race courses, etc., time is not a factor. Our training, diet and race preparation all impact our performance on race day. In my years of open-water experience, I may have made all the mistakes you can make."

Since we all know that the best way to learn is from our mistakes, here are Flanagan's top 10 tips for open-water swimming, to help you avoid some of his mistakes and swim your best race.

1. Practice sighting

"I've found that the best way to sight during a race is to lift the head and look forward as your are turning your head to breathe. You want to limit how high you lift your head because your hips will drop, so try just below the goggle line. Then take your breath when you turn your head to the side."

2. Time when you sight

"The more you look, the more tired you get. The less you look, the less straight you may swim. It is a trade-off, but you need to find what is comfortable for you in the race you are in. If you are in an ocean race, be sure to sight as you are rising from a swell so you can see."

3. Train in open water

"If you have a chance to train in the open water, take advantage of it. It is not always the fastest swimmers that win open-water races, but the ones who swim the smartest race and have the most experience."

4. Stay warm during the race

"I've been in races where my body just shuts down because of the cold. Try to avoid it by using everything you can: Wetsuits, two caps and earplugs all help keep you warm during those frigid races."

5. Goggles are critical

"Find a pair that you are comfortable with, and allow you to see very well. Don't wait until race day to try your new pair of goggles out!"

6. Learn the course

"You may not always have someone with you during the race. Before the race, check the buoys. Look for landmarks, like trees or houses, that will help guide you in a straight line. While you are in the water, you won't always be able to sight off the buoys."

7. Have a fast start

"Be warmed up and prepared to go hard from the beginning. You want to limit as much contact as possible on the start, so get out fast. You can settle into your pace after that."

8. Learn to breathe on both sides

"I have found out the hard way that it is best to breathe to the opposite side when someone is next to you. [If not,] you might get hit in the face, and/or lose your goggles. It is much worse than a hit in the back of the head."

9. Draft when you can

"Drafting is a part of open-water swimming. It can help you sometimes, and hurt you others. You may be able to hang on to a faster group of swimmers, but you may also get stuck behind some and not know how slow you are going. Use it with caution. I would recommend using it more for triathletes, who should be finding ways to save their legs for the bike and run."

10. Eat and hydrate well

"Take care of your body. It is easy to get dehydrated out in the open water. Drink plenty of fluids two days out, but don't get bloated."

He's a pro who has been doing it so long that he even has advice for those worried about those all-too-rare shark encounters.

"A couple times I've run into sharks," Flanagan says, apparently having survived to tell the tale. "Once swimming in Australia, and once out surfing in Hawaii. For the most part, sharks tend to keep to themselves. They're really nothing to worry about. I have also run into eight dolphins during a race," he says. "I was shocked because it was so unreal, and I couldn't move for a while; dolphins look a lot like sharks! But if you mind your own business, they're sure to stay away from you. Remember that they're probably more scared of you than you are of them."

10 more open water tips -- from a woman's point of view

    By Alex Kostich

In the male-dominated world of open-water swimming, 23-year-old Dawn Heckman has been creating waves. A member of the USA Swimming Open-water National Team for the last two years, Dawn burst onto the scene after retiring from competitive pool swimming, carving out a name for herself as one of America?s rising long-distance stars. Her growing list of recent accomplishments includes bronze medals in both the FINA World Open-water Swimming Championships and the USA 25K National Championships last year, in addition to numerous accomplishments from her days as a collegiate swimmer for the University of Florida.

While women everywhere are venturing into open-waters for triathlons and other aquatic competitions, Dawn has managed to excel and put a few established men in their place (i.e. behind her at the finish line).

I was interested in finding out the secrets to Dawn's success; after all, any swimmer -- male or female -- can learn and benefit from a champion of her caliber. Dawn's list of top 10 tips will take you by surprise; not only is she a smart and ruthless competitor, but she has a sense of humor, too!

A woman's guide to open-water racing: Top 10 list of do's and don'ts

10. Grow your nails. In an open-water race it is not uncommon for people (men especially) to swim over you in order to get by. When you find yourself being plowed over by some huge guy, let them know they're swimming in your territory by giving them a little scratch! When they realize they can't just push you aside, they'll usually back off and chart their own course.

9. Pace yourself. Often men dash out of the start, using testosterone to their advantage by swimming as fast as they can. Then, somewhere near the middle of the race, they get tired and start to slow down. This is the perfect opportunity to reel them in and pass them one by one. The race hurts a lot less, and to be honest, it's quite fun passing men near the end of a race! Their egos are a little crushed, and passing them gives you that extra mental boost to finish the race strong.

8. Relax your stroke. The ocean is more powerful than you are. It's not worth wasting energy fighting it. Try to develop a rhythm with the current conditions. Don't worry about technique. Technique is something you practice in the pool. Your work in the pool will pay off in the ocean.

7. Avoid unwanted hickies. Use Vaseline around chafing areas. There is nothing worse than having your swimsuit straps rub against your neck in salt water for a long period of time. If you don't wear Vaseline, you'll end up wearing a turtleneck for two weeks, or you'll have to constantly explain to everyone (including your boyfriend) that Dracula wasn't sucking on your neck!

6. Don't shave right before the race. Razor burn and salt water? need I say more?

5. No itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie yellow polka-dot bikinis!!!

4. Race sans jewelry. Although necklaces, anklets, and bracelets are fashionable, they are also very enticing for someone to grab on to. (And if sharks and other forms of carnivorous wildlife are a concern for you, eliminating all shiny things -- earrings included -- is highly recommended.)

3. Wear your goggles under your cap. If you start the race with goggles, most likely you want to finish the race with goggles (especially if you wear contacts). The start of an open-water race is very crowded and hectic. It is not uncommon for someone to knock your goggles off (intentionally or unintentionally). If you put your goggles on before you put your cap on, they will stay put and not fall off.

2. Carpe diem! Seize the moment. Enjoy your surroundings. Embrace nature. Swimming in the open water is very refreshing. Most people are afraid of it. You're doing something most people would never even consider doing, so live for the moment!

1. Draft, draft, draft. Generally speaking, men create larger waves than women. Use this to your advantage. Swim directly behind someone who is slightly faster than you, and let them do the work. When you're close to the finish, pull to the side and use the energy you've saved to sprint the rest of the way.

As I predicted, Dawn's list has something for everyone, and her accomplishments are no surprise given the strategies above. Open-water swimming can be intimidating for first-timers, and some women may feel especially vulnerable given the nature of the beast (that "beast" being men, rather than the ocean!). It is encouraging to see a woman asserting herself in a sport as potentially rough and intimidating as open-water swimming, and it's impressive that Dawn is beating her male counterparts on the national and international level.

I was not familiar with Dawn's goggles-under-the-cap approach until now, and I consider myself privileged to know that should I ever compete against her, I best keep my distance to avoid getting scratched, drafted off of, or perhaps even ... beaten !

Tips to shave seconds off times

United States Masters Swimming Offers 5 Tips to Shave Seconds Off Open-Water Swim Times

If you're planning to swim in open water, you already know the big blue sea requires some different -- and additional -- skills than does the pool. Michael Collins of United States Masters Swimming offers these tips to help you shave time off your open-water swims:

Practice with a purpose: During open-water practice, try repeats of swimming out and back instead of relying solely on long, non-stop swims. Completing a 4x500 (swimming 250 meters out and 250 meters back, four times) can help with necessary open-water skills such as turning/swimming around buoys, navigation, and getting in and out of the water. You'll also be more likely to bump into people unintentionally, which helps prepare for the inevitable contact found in open-water events.

Draft: Practice drafting with other swimmers just as you would practice drafting on your bike. You may gain some speed, you'll get used to swimming with others in close proximity, and you won't have to look up to sight quite as much. It's still best to be responsible for your own positioning and do your own sighting to confirm where you're going.

Straight as an arrow: Learn to swim straight. Most swimmers have a stronger side and prefer breathing to one side ­ both of which can send you off on an angle, fast. Practice regular sight-breathing in the pool as well as in open-water practice. Start by looking up every 8-10 strokes, and gradually work up to 20.

By the buoy: Turning directly next to buoys in open-water events may not be your ticket to a faster time. Avoid the inevitable slowing with all the crowds next to the buoy by swimming just a bit wider. You'll save overall time and avoid much of the kicking and thrashing that is common at the turns.

Peel rubber: If you plan to wear a wetsuit for triathlons or other open-water swim races, practice, practice, practice getting your wetsuit off. Experiment with what works best for you to facilitate quick and easy removal. Many swimmers like to "pre-treat" their legs with a petroleum-free roll-on protectant used to prevent chafing, or with a fat-free cooking spray.

first published on the USMS web site's News Bulletin page on February 18, 2004