Masters Swimming


Open water competition

You’ve decided to compete in an Open Water Swimming event. Congratulations!

Finding is meet is the first step. Consult with club members and coaches about what are the upcoming open water meets, where they are and who might be participating. The Swimming Canada upcoming meets page lists all listed and sanctioned meets by month. Filters may be added for the province and season. Clicking on the MEET TYPE will sort them by type grouping all Open Water meets together. Clicking on the MEET NAME will take you to the meet page and the meet resources including the meet package.

The meet package will give you the details of the meet concerning location, warm-up and start times, entry fees, entry deadlines and the meet schedule. There may also be information on the entry process.

Select the event in which you wish to compete. Consider your fitness and skill level. You may not be ready for a 5 kilometer swim yet. Your coach can guide you through the entry process. Entry may be possible on-site race day.

Meet day, what to expect

Nerves will most likely accompany you for the first while, enjoy the journey, embrace the feelings but don’t forget that you are there to have a good time, to challenge yourself. Try to arrive at the venue with someone from your club/team who can guide you along. Find a place to put your bag down. In it you should have all your equipment including cap and goggles, nose plug and ear plugs if you use them in training. Water, hydration is important, a refillable bottle is your best friend. Include warm dry clothes to wear after your race. You will not be allowed to wear a watch or jewelry during the race so it is advisable to leave these items at home or safely stowed. Your nails, fingers and toe, must also be clipped short for the race.

Check in with the race organizers to pay fees, sign waiver and get your swimmer number and coloured bathing cap. You will then go to have your race number written on your hands, shoulder blades and upper arms. Be certain NOT to have put sunscreen on yet as the numbering will smear.

Warm-up. You will be able to get in the water and swim in a designated warm-up area or possibly swim around the course. Use this like a workout warm-up to limber up.

Pre-Race briefing. You will be required to attend the pre-race briefing which will give you all the information necessary for the race; starting procedure, course directions, compulsory buoys to go around, finish area and safety information.

Race time. Swimmers will be sent into the water after their number is called. You will line up for the start according to the instructions given in the pre-race briefing. The start will have the referee whistling then pointing a flag at the starter. The starter will have a raised flag which they will lower at the same time as an audible signal is given for the start.  Swimmers will all leave together swimming towards the first buoy. There maybe crowding and jostling going on until the pack thins out, be prepared for this. Stay more towards the side of the pack if this makes you uneasy. Find your pace at which to swim being mindful that the swimmer next to you may be much slower or faster than you. Complete the required distance and finish the race according to the pre-race briefing instructions.

Congratulations! You have completed your first open water event.  You may want to walk around slowly to bring your body back to resting or ‘swim-down’ if an area is available.

Results are published in a variety of ways. You will be ranked with swimmer from your five-year interval age group. Results will be published in the coming weeks on the Swimming Canada Meet Results page.