What is Open Water Swimming?

Open water swimming is an activity in which participants swim outdoors in a body of water, including rivers, lakes, bays, and oceans. The activity includes additional variables that make it more challenging than swimming indoors. There are no walls or lane lines, and the weather can create harsh conditions for swimming.

Open water swimming has increased in popularity in recent years from the U.S. to UK, with over 170 events taking place in open water in Britain and hundreds in America each year.

Popular open water swims around the world include:

Open Water Swimming Safety

Open water swimming introduces additional obstacles into swimming when compared to swimming in a controlled environment. Open water swimming can be dangerous for novice swimmers and even experienced athletes when not accompanied by safety personnel. Having knowledge of the area is also an important factor as different bodies of water may pose different risks to swimmers.

During every Odyssey Open Water Swimming event, trained kayakers or paddleboarders travel alongside athletes to ensure their safety and offer support if needed.


Open Water Swimming Equipment

Equipment can help swimmers conquer the open water and increase safety. Equipment options for swimmers include:

  • Swimsuit or wetsuit

  • Goggles

  • Swim caps (bright colors are recommended)

  • Earplugs

  • Snacks and/or fluid for long swims

Your First Open Water Swim

Are you ready to give open water swimming a try? Click here to learn what you should know before your first open water swim with Odyssey Open Water Swimming. We recommend joining Odyssey for our weekly Berkeley swims, which are open to swimmers of all skill levels. Swimmers can choose the length of their route, and commonly swim from .5-2 miles.