Open Water Swim Venues and Training
Open water training is essential to ensuring a successful race, and our region is lucky to have multiple venues hosted by excellent coaches. T3 Triathlon Team maintains a Google document and calendar listing all local swims and races. Raymond McKendall also maintains this catalog of 339 open-water races in the US, including the Philadelphia region, New Jersey shore, and Mid-Atlantic.
The key local Philadelphia open water training venues are described below.
Thursdays 4PM – 7:30PM May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 | June 7, 14, 21, 28 | July 12, 19 | August 2, 16, 23, 30 | September 7, 14
Saturdays 6:30AM – 11:00AM April 28 | May 5, 12, 19, 26 | June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | July 7, 14, 21, 28 | Aug 4, 11, 18, 25 | Sept 1, 8, 15, 22
Sundays 6:30AM – 11:00AM April 29 | May 6, 13, 20, 27 | June 3, 17, 24 | July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 | August 5, 12, 19, 26
Wednesday 5-7:30pm (Informal Open Water Swim Races) May 16, 23, 30 | June 6, 13, 27 | July 11
Visit ETA Coach's website for all Open Water Swim and Open Water Swim Clinic Information: http://www.etacoach.com/open-water-swims-and-swim-clinics/
1 Day passes can only be purchased at the lake for $15.00 Cash or Check per Lake Swim. (This does not include lifeguard gratuity). Once you have registered, please bring your ticket receipt to the lake, along with a photo ID and your USAT Card. If you don’t have your pass, photo ID, or USAT Card, you can’t swim. Non-USAT members can purchase a 1 day USAT pass for $12.00.
ETA also runs periodic open water swim clinics, designed to help beginner to advanced swimmers become more comfortable in the open water. They do this by practicing skills which will help each swimmer offset anxiety and navigate swim courses more effectively, resulting in safer and faster open water swimming.
YMCA Camp Ockanickon is a nice swim venue. Don't be fooled by the dark brown water color due to the local Jersey pines. The water is clean tasting and water quality is good.
French Creek Racing
French Creek Racing, run by pro triathlete Coach John Kenny, holds frequent Schuylkill River open water swims at 1 East Indian Lane, Eagleville, PA -- right off of the Schuylkill River Trail. As seen in the schedule, open water swims are held every Sunday-Wednesday, and Thursday. Sign up for open water swims here ($12/session; multi-passes available).
In addition, FCR runs an Open Water Race Series at the same Eagleville location. 2018 race dates will be: 5/8, 6/5, 7/3, 7/17, 8/7, and 9/11. Each race will be on Tuesday night, 6PM registration / warm up, 7pm start. 9/11 race will start promptly at 6:45 due to limited daylight Each race is 800m. Sign up for the 2018 Open water Race Series here. $25 to pre-register, $30 on-site.
Contrary to popular belief, the Schuylkill River is actually one of the best local open water venues we have for swimming. During dry conditions, the Schuylkill River is actually one of the cleanest bodies of water where you can swim open water in this area. Indeed, my doctor at Penn Medicine Radnor is a triathlete and has commented to me that this river is one of the cleaner bodies of water in our area. Another little-known fact is that the river is a public body of water and anyone may swim contingent on approval from the owner of the access point (We highly recommend swimming only when supervised by certified lifeguards).
The pollution stigma dates back to before environmental regulation when the Schuylkill River was, in fact, one of the most polluted rivers in the US. In the past few decades, the river has cleaned up immensely. In the past 2 years, we've been out on days where you can see the bottom at an 8 foot depth. FWIW, if you live along the river corridor, it's quite likely that you get your drinking water out of the Schuylkill.
In addition to open water swims, FCR also holds many masters pool swims (very friendly group and open to all ability levels) throughout the week, as seen in the schedule. Sign up for indoor masters pool swims here.
Also, during the summer months, FCR hosts swims at the outdoor 50m Upper Merion pool. Sign up for Upper Merion pool swims here.
Join French Creek Racing's Facebook group to keep up to date with the latest schedules and updates. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Mid-Atlantic Multisport, run by Coach Bill Hauser, holds open water swims at Marsh Creek State Park, Downingtown, PA.
"Mid-Atlantic Multisport has been providing open water swimming instruction and training opportunities for triathletes and open water enthusiasts since 2008. During this time, we have helped thousands of athletes overcome their anxieties related to open water and become stronger, more confident swimmers. Our popular Open Water Swim Series is a collection of ten open water training swims spread throughout the spring and summer months. Register for a single session or purchase a Season Pass and attend all of the swims for a greatly discounted price. At many of the sessions, we also offer instructional Skills & Safety Clinics for beginners."
Marsh Creek is a large man-made lake in Downingtown, PA. No motorized boats are allowed in the lake (electric motors only), so the water quality is quite good. The lake is larger than the Camp Ockanickon lake, and can get slightly choppy on windy days. This gives you a good feel for open water swimming.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Skills & Safety Clinic and Training Swim)
Saturday, May 12, 2018 - 8:00-10:00 am (Skills & Safety Clinic and Training Swim)
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Training Swim ONLY)
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Skills & Safety Clinic and Training Swim)
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 8:00-10:00 am (Skills & Safety Clinic and Training Swim)
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Training Swim ONLY)
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Training Swim ONLY)
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Skills & Safety Clinic and Training Swim)
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Training Swim ONLY)
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 5:00-7:00 pm (Training Swim ONLY)
TWiley Sports, run by Coach Todd Wiley, holds open water clinics and swims at Lake Nockamixon, the largest lake in Bucks County, PA.
The open water clinic is designed to help swimmers build their confidence in the open water. This is a hands on session with discussions geared towards becoming more efficient with open water skills. We will cover: dealing with anxiety of swimming in the open water, sighting, swimming in crowds, using a wetsuit, and why swimming in the open water is so different than swimming in a pool. Coaches will give a dry land discussion then be in the water practicing these skills with the swimmers placing them in different groups based on their needs and abilities.
The clinics will start at 8 am and end approximately at 10 am.
The swims will take place with a start time of 9:15 am. The swims are geared towards experienced triathletes and swimmers that want to simulate race conditions and get a practice swim in on the .5 mile course. Swimmers will start together and will be able to time themselves for .5, 1 mile, 1.5 mile if they wish.
The swim course will be monitored with lifeguards and coaches. These swims are for triathletes or swimmers that have gone through a open water swim clinic.
2018 swim dates: June 10 - July 1 - July 29. Clinics cost $35, swims cost $20.Register here.