Top open water event series

10 of the best multi- event swims

Open water swimming has grown in popularity in recent years, even earning its place as an Olympic event in 2008. There are plenty of hugely popular, challenging and enjoyable open water swims, many of which form part of a wider series of events where you can take part in one or take part in all. Here is our pick of the best open water swimming series from across the globe.

Competing in an open water event

British Gas Great Swim Series

Description: The British Gas Great Swim Series has grown since its inception in 2008 to become one of the major open water events on the UK calendar. The one-mile public swimming events – Great Salford Swim, Great North Swim, Great East Swim, Great London Swim, and Great Scottish Swim – take place in various lakes, lochs and docks around the UK, and attract swimmers of all abilities.

Locations: Salford (Manchester); Windemere (Cumbria); Alton Water Park, Ipswich (Suffolk); Royal Victoria Docks (London); and Strathclyde Docks (Strathclyde).

When: May to September.

Additional info: The Great North Swim is the most popular and attracts over 9,000 swimmers.

Website: Great Swim website

EPIC Lakes Swim Series

Description: The EPIC Lakes Swim Series consists of the open water swim events at three different locations in the Lake District, Cumbria. For each date and location there are three event distances to choose from which provides novices, intermediates and elite swimmers with a challenge to match.

Locations:  Coniston Water, Derwent Water (Keswick) and Ullswater (Patterdale)

When: May to July.

Additional info: Race distances at each event are 500m, 1600m and 3.8k. The 3 swim distances start at separate times. The 500m is the first event, followed by the 3.8k and then the 1600m ‘classic mile’ event.

Website: EPIC Lakes Swim Series website

2XU Ocean Swim Series

Description: Multi-race series and community swims over various ocean courses throughout Tasmania in Australia. Distances for the main races vary up to 5k. The events are conducted at venues all around the state.

Locations: Carlton Park, Princess Wharf, Port Sorell, Devonport Bluff, Kingston Beach, and Ulverstone.

When: December to March.

Additional Information: The Kingston Beach Australia Day Swim in the lower Derwent River is conducted as part of Australia Day celebrations with swim distances between 300m and 2k.

Website: 2XU Ocean Swim Series website

Olympus Tough Fine Ocean Swimmers Series

Description: The Fine Ocean Swimmers Series consists of seven swims, beginning in January with North Bondi, and ending in mid-April at Bondi. The seven swims included in the series offer a spread of smaller and larger swims, and diverse locations in New South Wales.

Locations:  The Roughwater, (North Bondi); Warriewood-Mona Vale Ocean Swim (Sydney, Northern Beaches); The Big Swim, Palm Beach to Whale Beach (Sydney Northern Beaches); Malabar Magic (Sydney, Eastern Suburbs); Sydney Harbour Swim Classic (Sydney City); Stanwell Park (Southern Sydney);  Bondi (Sydney Eastern Suburbs).

When: January to April.

Additional info: A handicap system is in place which adjusts each swimmer's time for age and sex, providing a handicap time which is used to calculate points and therefore levels the playing field for swimmers of all ages and both genders.

Website: Tough Fine Ocean Swimmers Series website

Water Corporation Open Water Series

Description: A five-race series throughout Western Australia over various ocean courses with distances ranging from 1.25k to 10k.

Locations: Champion Lakes; Rockingham Foreshore; Mullaloo Beach; Leighton Beach; and Sorrento Beach.

When: November to January

Additional info: The final race of the series in late January serves as the Western Australia State Championships and the 10k Rottnest Channel Swim Rotto Rehearsal.

Website: Water Corporation Open Water Series

State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series

Description: Six-event ocean swim series held in stunning beaches and major waterways. The Harbour Crossing event, starting in Quinton Park, Bayswater and finishing on the northern side of Te Wero Island, is aimed at experienced swimmers whereas the other events offer something for everyone.

Location: Harbour Crossing (Auckland); Capital Classic in Oriental Bay (Wellington); Corsair Classic (Christchurch); Mt Maunganui (Maunganui); King of the Bays (Takapuna).
When: January to April.

Additional Info: Five of the six events around New Zealand host four achievable distances on the day – thus presenting a range of goals suitable for most ages and abilities. Harbour Crossing offers just one course distance only – ‘I'm Going Long' 2.8km Ocean Swim.

Website: State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series

Speedo Open Water Swim Series

Description: The open water swim events take place across five locations in some of the UK’s finest lakes, rivers and coast line. There's a range of distances on offer, from 750m to 10k, making it a great challenge whatever your level of fitness and ability.

Locations: Eton; Windsor; Hampton Court; Marlow; and Poole.

When: May to September.

Additional info: The Eton Swim at Dorney Lake is the Rowing venue for the 2012 Olympics. The Poole Swim involves an open water swim.

Website: Swim Series website

Arizona Open Water Swim Series

Description: A five event series, The Arizona Open Water Swim Series begin with events in Saguaro Lake, then on to Lake Pleasant and back to Saguaro and then Tempe Town Lake.  All of the events – 1k, 2k and 4k – consist of laps of a 1000m rectangular course.

Location: Saguaro Lake (twice); Lake Pleasant Marina (twice); and Tempe Town Lake.

When: April to November.

Additional info: Youth events are offered at the first Lake Pleasant event (500m for 10 and under; 1k for 11-12; and 2k for 13 and over). Athletes can combine the 1K races and the 4k races in order to compete in the 5k race.

Website: Arizona Open Water Swim Series

The West Indies Bluewater Swim Series

Description: Four open water swim races in Caribbean Sea form the series.  Starting with a 2.5 mile Nevis-St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim, the series moves on to the stunning coast of St John.  Turks & Caicos hosts the ‘Race for the Conch’ Eco-Sea Swim in Grace Bay and the series finishes with the Maracas Bay Open Water Classic in Trinidad.

Locations: Nevis (St Kitts) (2.5 mile); St. John (US Virgin Islands) (1 mile, 2.25 miles and 3.5 miles); Turks & Caicos (1 mile, 2.4 mile); Trinidad (2.5k and 5k).

When: March to September.

Additional info: The 3.5 mile event in St John can also be swum as a 3 person relay. There are children’s swims at both Turks and Caicos (100m) and Trinidad (700m).

Website: West Indies Bluewater Swim Series

Fiji Ocean Swim Series

Description: Though primarily aimed at local swimmers, the Fiji Ocean Swim Series attracts overseas swimmers, particularly from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, who often take up the opportunity to combine short break or holiday with a race. There are eight events that make up the series and they are held on various dates throughout the year.

Location: Yatule Beach Resort Natadola; Uprising Resort Pacific Harbour; Nacula Yasawa; Fiji Ocean Swim Plantation Island.

Additional info: The format for the series is a choice of 1km, 2.5km and 5km, all held on the same day, except for the last event which will be just a 1k and 3k event on offer.

When: January to October

WebsiteFiji Ocean Swim Series

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