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Chicago River Swim

Sunday, September 22, 2024



Check below for further details and insight into the 2024 Chicago River Swim event. Please check back as questions and answers will be continually added to this page.


Are there any participation requirements?
Yes, there are several requirements:

  • Registration Fee: There is no fee to apply. However, if selected, participants are required to pay a $50 (USD) non-refundable fee using their credit card on file
  • US Masters Swimming License: Non-USMS Members must also pay a $20 (USD) non-refundable sanctioning fee upon registration
  • Fundraise for ALS: Selected participants agree to fundraise a minimum of $1,500 (USD) for 2-mile swimmers or $1,000 (USD) for 1-mile swimmers to support A Long Swim
  • Swim Safety: Participants must agree to wear the event-issued swim cap, timing chip and swim buoy during the swim, and abide by a forthcoming set of event rules
  • Athlete Briefing: Participants must attend a mandatory safety and logistics session prior to the event; No exceptions
  • Packet Pick-Up: Participants must pick-up their own race packets on event weekend, and present a government-issued photo ID
  • Forward Progress: Participants must make continuous progress from start to finish without prolonged stops. Those unable to finish by 9:00 AM will be pulled from the water

    NOTE: Additional requirements may be listed prior to the application process and/or event weekend.

Where can I apply?
Apply at Applications close Sunday, April 28

How can I confirm my application was submitted?
Each participant will receive a confirmation email soon after submitting their application.

How will the selection process work?
Applications will be screened and reviewed for accuracy. Qualified individuals will be grouped, drawn, and notified of their selection in early May.
*Chicago River Swim does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in participation in its programs, services, and activities*

What if I am selected, but unable to participate in September?
Those unable to participate in the 2024 Chicago River Swim can defer to the 2025 event by notifying staff by Wednesday, July 31. Deferred participants will receive guaranteed entry in the 2025 event, but must pay all relevant 2025 registration fees and fundraise the full amount. Deferrals into the 2025 event will not be available after July 31, 2024.

Can I transfer my entry to a friend?
No. Transferring entry is not allowed, as that participant will not be covered by our athlete protection insurance in the event of an injury or accident. If that participant causes damage or injury, you may be liable in part for the damages.

Can I apply for the 2025 Chicago River Swim?
Applications for 2025 will open on September 23, 2024 at


Who is the beneficiary of the Chicago River Swim? 
A Long Swim works hand in hand with the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. More information on our partnership can be found here

How much am I expected to raise if I am participating? 
The goal of your fundraising efforts should be $1,000 to $1,500 however you are encouraged to challenge yourself as incentives and awards will be offered to top fundraisers!

How will I collect donations?
All selected participants will create a custom fundraising web page, where you are able to collect donations by credit card or check (details forthcoming).

What if I don’t know how to fundraise?
The event’s Athlete Services Coordinator will provide personalized support and tools to help everyone achieve their fundraising goals.

When do I need to complete my fundraising requirements?
The following milestones have been set for all 2024 participants: 

  • Milestone 1 (25% of fundraising complete): June 16
  • Milestone 2 (50%): July 21
  • Milestone 3 (100%): September 8


How much training will I need?
That depends on your goals. At a simple level, we recommend at least 8-12 weeks of continual development to ensure you are ready for the waters of the Chicago River.

Do you offer any training support?
Yes, all selected participants will receive an Athlete Toolkit, which includes a simple training guide, as well as be connected with local open water swim coaches and events like Open Water Swim CHICAGO.

Can I practice swimming in the river?
No, swimming in Chicago is strictly prohibited outside of event day. Lake Michigan’s beaches are your best option for open water swimming.


Where is the Swim Course?
The Swim Course is set in the Chicago River’s main channel, between Wolf Point (to the west) and the State Street Bridge (to the east). Visit the Swim Course page for a detailed map.

How deep is the river?
The deepest point of the Chicago River is 21 feet. 

What is the average water temperature?
In September, the Chicago River’s temperature can vary between 62°F and 74°F. 

Are wetsuits allowed?
Yes, wetsuits will be permitted for the event (assuming temperatures do not exceed 84°F).

Are snorkels or other equipment allowed?
Snorkels, flippers, and similar training equipment will not be permitted on event day. Personal swim buoys will be issued by the event and must be worn during the event (participants may not supply their own).

Are there any rules?
Yes. Official rules and safety requirements will be covered in the Athlete Briefing over event weekend.

Is this swim sanctioned by any governing bodies?
Yes, this swim is sanctioned and supported by U.S. Masters Swimming.

Are there awards?
Yes, awards will be given to top finishers in the overall event (both distances), and for individual age groups. More details to come.


Is the river safe for swimming?
Yes, it will be or we won't swim. The Chicago River Swim will only operate in waters that are deemed safe for human exposure. Event personnel will monitor water quality statistics throughout the season by working with established experts in that field, including the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) and Current's H2NOWChicago waterway monitoring system. 

Are there any safety precautions during the swim?
Yes, safety is paramount at the Chicago River Swim. A full safety program will be discussed during event weekend. Some of those components include:

  ✓  Athlete Briefings
  ✓  Closed Course
  ✓  Lifeguards
  ✓  Rescue Jet Skis
  ✓  Kayak Marshals
  ✓  On-Shore Spotters
  ✓  On-Site Medical Team
  ✓  RFID Chip Timing
  ✓  Personal Swim Buoys
  ✓  Wetsuits Allowed
  ✓  Hi-Visibility Swim Caps
  ✓  Surveillance Video

Will there be lifeguards at the event?
Yes. Dozens of lifeguards will monitor the Swim Course in and above the water. More than 100 safety personnel will support the operation.

How does water testing work?
The Chicago River Swim will follow the EPA's 2012 Water Quality Recommendations for e. coli presence in freshwater swimming, and ultimately make decisions using data from MWRD and Current’s H2NOW platform. Please visit the Water Quality page for details.

What if the event is canceled because of poor water conditions?
In the event of heavy rains or other environmental issues that might cancel the September 22 event with enough notice, organizers hope to gain approval of a back-up date scheduled for Sunday, October 6 (two weeks later).


Where can spectators best view the swim?
Spectators are encouraged to view the Chicago River Swim from pre-determined Spectating Zones or the expansive River Theater, located between the LaSalle Street and Clark Street Bridges. More details will be shared, including special hospitality viewing areas on event day.

How can I be a part of the event if I’m not swimming? 
The public is encouraged to spectate, submit a donation and/or join us on event weekend as a volunteer!

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
Participant-related questions can be directed to 
All other general inquiries can be directed to 


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