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Chicago River Swim

Sunday, September 22, 2024

Water Safety


Participant, volunteer, staff, and spectator safety are paramount to the Chicago River Swim operation. Accordingly, an incredible amount of planning and coordination is required to safety put swimmers into the Chicago River, and to allow spectators to witness it.

Like any athletic event, participation in the Chicago River Swim includes assumed personal risk. To mitigate the overall level of risk, event organizers have created a series of safety standards and participatory rules.

The Chicago River Swim has been collaborating with federal, state, and local authorities including the U.S. Coast Guard, which has jurisdiction over the river, to ensure water safety for swimmers. The Safety Plan calls for a wide array of protocols and support, including 100+ safety personnel to monitor the 500 participants -- more than any other event of a similar nature. A sampling of the Safety Plan 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

The Chicago River will be closed to all commercial and recreational vessels (including non-event, human powered watercraft) during the event under authority of the U.S. Coast Guard. Additionally, the Chicago River Swim has partnered with the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee to educate the entire waterway community on the upcoming event.

Only authorized participants are allowed into this event, each of whom must show proof of eligibility, comply with mandatory Athlete Briefings and follow swim safety instructions (see Requirements & Fees). Swimming in the Chicago River is prohibited outside of this event. 

Additional details will be shared as the event draws nearer.

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