Open Water Swim | CHICAGO

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


This may be a series, but the four sessions operate independently. Participants may enroll in one, two, three or all four sessions -- relative to their goals and preference for learning in the small group environment. Participants should use these sessions to grow familiar with swimming in Lake Michigan, eventually gaining confidence to return with others and train on their own. 


During the registration process, participants will select from "Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced" level clinics (or they may opt for Swim-On-Your-Own or Aquathlon options - more details below). Swim Coaches will teach from a standard curriculum, but the experience will never be the same. 

  • Beginner: No to little open water experience. First-timers should select this option.
  • Intermediate: Enough experience to comfortably swim on your own (non-stop) for 20+ minutes.
  • Advanced: Extremely confident swimming on their own (even in challenging water conditions) for 40+ minutes.

We recommend new swimmers enroll in the Beginner clinic session. Once they complete the session and feel confident, they can upgrade to Intermediate or Advanced levels for subsequent sessions. On average, swimmers will participate as a Beginner twice before upgrading to Intermediate level. We strongly encourage participants to build toward the Aquathlon option in August -- a great race simulation for the Chicago Triathlon. Curriculum levels can be adjusted after the initial registration process. 

Each session will follow this schedule:

  • 3:00 PM   Check-In opens / Wetsuit rentals available
  • 4:00 PM   Session 1 starts
  • 4:45 PM   Session 1 ends
  • 5:15 PM   Session 2: starts
  • 6:00 PM   Aquathlon start
  • 6:00 PM   Session 2: ends
  • 6:30 PM   Session 3: starts
  • 7:15 PM   Session 3: ends
  • 7:30 PM   Water cleared / Life guards depart
  • 7:45 PM   Gear Check closes / Event concludes

All participants are required to check-in with a photo ID upon arrival. We recommend participants arrive to the beach AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to their dedicated start time, allowing adequate time to check-in, grab a wetsuit, check gear, etc. Participants will be assigned into specific groups relative to their registration option. Upon completing the swim portion, all participants are asked to check-out with event staff located on the beach, ensuring all swimmers are 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 bases. A $25 rental fee will be charged. Please bring cash and a valid ID for collateral. Note: UTG will not provide rentals at the final session in August. Please contact Urban Tri Gear directly to purchase a wetsuit or rent one during race weekend. 
  • 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 Life Guards 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. At the least, participants must be able to tread water on their own, place their face under the surface, and maintain some level of forward propulsion. The coaches will support swimmers of all abilities, and Chicago Park District Life Guards 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. After a brief orientation on the beach, 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. Awards will be presented to the fastest female and male finishers who complete the full 1500 swim course (and the 5k run). Please review the course map here.

Ohio Street Beach water temperatures will measure 55-75°F through the season. Accurate readings will be shared prior to each session. While temperatures are comfortable, we strongly advise participants to use a swim-specific wetsuit and bring warmer clothes for the post-swim.
While we hope for great conditions, we will monitor weather patterns along with local officials. Given the unpredictable nature of Chicagoland weather, we will not make any weather related decisions until event day. If necessary, weather advisories will be sent throughout the day and posted in the Discussions area on Open Water Swim CHICAGO’s Facebook page
. In the case of unfavorable conditions, 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 (bring your own hydration, as the water fountain has been removed)
  ·  Wetsuit (optional)
  ·  Warm, post-swim clothing (it will get chilly on the beach)
  ·  Extra money for post-event socializing at Caffé Oliva.

* If you're looking for a great pair of goggles, check out THEMAGIC5 -- they literally create custom fit swimming goggles using the scanned contours of your face. Use code OWSC25 to save 25% on your order.


Urban Tri Gear will provide a small inventory of demo wetsuits for use during these sessions (excluding August 23). A $25 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.

Parking can be tricky in the area, so we strongly recommend reserving a nearby garage spot using SpotHero. Click the link below to find garages as low as $14 within two blocks of Ohio Street Beach.

The August 23 event will feature an early Chicago Triathlon Athlete Briefing exclusively for registrants of this OWS session, held on the beach (adjacent to Caffe' Oliva) at approximately 8:15 PM. Otherwise, Athlete Briefings are mandatory for all #ChiTri registrants prior to picking-up race packets at the Multisport & Fitness Expo.


This event has a strict no-refund and no-transfer policy, especially due to the limited capacity. If you are unable to attend for any reason, you are not eligible for reimbursement. Should the session be cancelled, management will do its best to offer a make-good relevant to the situation but refunds will not be issued. 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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