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Unusual Open Water Swims

by Anna Lea Matysek

Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary swimming event this summer? The USMS Calendar of Events lists a number of open water swims with unusual features. For those new to open water swimming, you may want to try an event that allows a little extra insurance.

Events that allow swimmers to use gear include the Search for Monongy swim, July 11, in Pittsburgh, Pa. This is a 1.2 and 2.4 mile and White Knuckle category swim in the Allegheny River. Fins, wetsuits, pull buoys, paddles, and other gear are allowed. The Hawaiian Ka'anapali Klassic, on May 2, is a 1.2-mile course that follows the north coast. This event only allows the use of snorkels, goggles and facemasks. But for fin addicts, there is the June 12, Swim Around Key West event, which will let solo swimmers wear fins for the entire 12.5-mile course.

For more than just swimming, Oregon's Devil's Lake Swim on June 12 and 13 offers a standing paddleboard race. If you're bringing along man's best friend, you'll want to check out the Foster Lake Swim in Oregon, on June 2, which features a 50-meter dog swim.

If you ever wished you could change your finish time, check out the Aumakua Swim in Hawaii on September 6. The Special Fun Rule states, "Near the point at mile 2, and the mile just past the half way mark, there's a submerged arch in the coral reef. Swim through, get a token from a kayak standing by near the arch, and get (one) minute off your time."

The scenery promises to be unique at some of these events. On Sep. 11, at the Big Shoulders Open Water Swim Classic, a 5K and 2.5K open water swim, you can use Chicago's downtown skyscrapers for your landmarks. Pittsburgh's Search for Monongy swim will take swimmers past the stadiums where the Pirates and the Steelers play. And you can see downtown Madison, Wis., during the Madison Open Water Swim on August 21.

One thing is for sure, every event on the USMS calendar is best summed up by the Ed Gaw Ameilia Island OW Challenge in Fernandina Beach, Florida on May 29, which advertises: "Famous post-race chow down. You will have a good time."

For more information and contacts for the swims mentioned in this article, as well as other great swims around the country, visit our Calendar of Events, which has new and improved search features making it easier to find the events you want to swim.

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