Open Water Swim | CHICAGO

Ohio Street Beach | Multiple Dates Chicago, IL 60611 US Directions
Pre Event Participant Details

Please review the following details prior to arriving for the 2021 Open Water Swim Clinic Series:


This series is meant to inspire ongoing participation and development throughout the training season. Our hope is that swimmers will build confidence through these sessions, then return to the lake with fellow swimmers for their own training and development. In a perfect world, a participant might enroll in one of the earlier clinics as a "beginner" then develop into a competitive Aquathlon swimmer by late August.

While the city and state have loosened restrictions, the Chicago Park District is requiring permitted events to use masks while in large groups. Masks will be required at the June 1 session for anyone who is not actively in the water. Disposable masks will be available at Gear Check prior to entering the water, and again on the beach once swimmers exit the water (Exception: Aquathlon participants are not required to wear a mask for their 5K run). Caffe’ Oliva abides by City of Chicago dining policy: masks must be worn until seated at the table. 

Each session will follow this schedule:

  • 3:00 PM   Check-In opens, wetsuit rentals open
  • 4:00 PM   Session 1 starts
  • 4:45 PM   Session 1 ends
  • 5:15 PM   Session 2: starts
  • 6:00 PM   Session 2: ends
  • 6:30 PM   Session 3: starts
  • 7:15 PM   Session 3: ends
  • 7:30 PM   Water cleared, lifeguards depart
  • 7:45 PM   Event concludes, Gear Check closes

All participants are required to check-in with event staff upon arrival. We recommend participants arrive to the beach AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to their dedicated start times, allowing adequate time to check-in, put-on a wetsuit, check gear, etc. During the check-in process, participants will be assigned into a specific group, relative to their registration option. Upon exiting the water, all participants are asked to check-out with event staff located on the beach, ensuring each swimmer is clear of the water.


  • Event check-in will take place at Ohio Street Beach, adjacent to Caffe’ Oliva. 
  • Registered participants will receive a numbered wristband and a color-coded swim cap. Swim cap colors are assigned to specific groups and coaches. They must be worn for the duration of the swim portion. 
  • Urban Tri Gear will provide a small assortment of demo wetsuits on a first-come, first-served basis. A $20 rental fee will be charged. Please bring cash and a valid ID for collateral.
  • Complimentary Gear Check will be provided by Team Bright Side volunteers, and is recommended for small items only (keys, wallets, etc.). Cash tips and Venmo payments [@teambrightside] will be accepted and appreciated by this hard-working group. The event cannot be responsible for bikes and other large gear. Plan to lock them up on your own.
  • All groups will be briefed prior to entering the water. All swimmers are required to exit the water by 7:30 PM.
  • Come dressed for the swim! Ohio Street Beach has no changing facilities and limited restrooms. Caffé Oliva does offer restrooms, although they do not suffice for changing clothing.
  • The safety and security of participants is paramount. Chicago Park District Lifeguards will patrol the swim course, and event staff will continually monitor weather and water conditions.  
    Due to typical congestion around Ohio Street Beach and the Lakefront, please use caution and be aware of other cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Following your session, plan to congregate with everyone at Caffé Oliva, adjacent to the beach, for great camaraderie and beer specials!

Swimmers will participate in one of three event options:
1. Swim Clinic Option
These popular sessions are designed for new triathletes and open water swimmers -- including those who have never worn a wetsuit. A collection of local coaches will offer basic swim education, then lead the small group through several swim drills with one-on-one feedback. The following topics will be addressed in each small group clinic:
  ·  How Open Water Swimming Differs from the Pool
  ·  Rules of the Triathlon Swim
  ·  Swim Etiquette at Ohio Street Beach
  ·  Properly Wearing / Removing a wetsuit
  ·  Common Issues (hyperventilating, poor breathing, swells, etc.)
  ·  Basic principles of sighting
  ·  Swimming in packs
  ·  Various short distance swim drills
These sessions will be held in shallow water and are designed to acclimate you to open water swimming in triathlon -- not necessarily to teach the fundamentals of proper swim technique. The coaches will support swimmers of all abilities, and Chicago Park District lifeguards will be on-hand through each session. Each swim clinic will last approximately 45 minutes. Following the clinics, participants will have time to swim as much (or as little) as they wish on their own.

2. Swim-On-Your-Own Option
This option is for those who prefer to utilize the event services but swim independently. This group is asked to wait until the athlete briefing is held before entering the water. After a quick orientation, these swimmers may enter the water and swim as much as they please. Event staff will host a mass start for those who prefer a race simulation. Two turn buoys will be placed along the swim course: 375 meters (750m round trip) and 750 meters (1.5k round trip). New distance markers (in meters) will be posted at each exit ladder, allowing swimmers to know their exact distance from the start buoy. Please review the course map here:
3. Aquathlon Option

The Aquathlon (swim + run) will begin at 6:00 PM with a briefing on the beach. Aquathletes will swim a 750m or 1500m course (their choice) immediately followed by a 5K run along the lakefront. Finish times will be manually recorded by event staff. Please review the course map here:

Current Ohio Street Beach water temperatures measure 58°F, which is normal for the early season. We strongly advise participants wear a wetsuit during the session and bring warmer clothes for the post-swim.
Tuesday’s air temperatures look to be in the mid 70s. If necessary, weather advisories will be sent throughout the day and posted on Open Water Swim CHICAGO’s event page on Facebook: While we don’t expect any issues next week, it will be up to the Event Manager, Chicago Park District and/or Chicago Fire Department to make weather-related event decisions.

  ·   Swim suit (swim caps will be issued)
  ·   Goggles
  ·   Towel
  ·  Water bottle (we encourage you to bring your own hydration, as the water fountain has been removed)
  ·  Wetsuit (optional, if you own one)
  ·  $20 cash and ID (if renting wetsuit)
  ·  Extra money for post-event socializing at Café Oliva.

Urban Tri Gear will provide a small inventory of demo wetsuits for use during these sessions. A $20 rental fee applies, which can be used as credit towards purchase of a new wetsuit. Urban Tri Gear also offers 5-day wetsuit rentals ($55 sleeveless, $65 full-sleeve) as part of these sessions. Please contact Urban Tri Gear to secure your rental in advance. They will coordinate all logistics. Due to anticipated demand from cold water temperatures, we strongly advise all swimmers obtain their own wetsuit prior to attending the session.

For those planning to drive, discounted parking is available at the AXIS Building Garage at 441 E. Erie St (immediately north of the W Hotel). Discounted parking is $10 for 12 hours., with a purchase required from Caffe’ Oliva for validation. 


This event has a strict no-refund and no-transfer policy, especially due to the limited capacity. If the event is hosted and you are unable to attend for any reason, you are not eligible for reimbursement. Should the event be cancelled outright, event staff will communicate a reimbursement policy relevant to the situation. Thank you for understanding.


The historic success of this entire Swim Clinic operation revolves around support from our dedicated coaching community. Dozens of incredible local coaches support each of our sessions, and we are constantly incorporating new, qualified triathlon and swim-savvy coaches into the clinic curriculum. These sessions are a great way to give back to the sport, as well as meet potential new personal training clients. Please email us should you be interested in lending a hand.

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