Open Water Swim CHICAGO

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

Winter Strength Program

Congratulations to all of our 2023 Winter Strength Program participants! The pilot program has concluded, and we're preparing for the 2023 outdoor endurance season. We'll update this page at the end of the upcoming season. Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out via email.

What Exactly Is Happening?
While swimming in Lake Michigan is off-limits, we’re piloting an offseason, cross-training program for our industry friends at HYROX (the same people behind the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final here in Chicago).

In tandem with their fitness experts, we’re constructing a simple strength + run focused program for endurance athletes (triathletes, runners, cyclists, etc.) that builds to the HYROX event on February 11 at Navy Pier.

HYROX typically caters to gym-goers and CrossFit audiences, which is why many of us aren’t familiar with them. As coaches and athletes ourselves, we think the endurance audience can benefit more than anyone by getting involved.

This 5-10 week program consists of 3 workouts per week, primarily done on your own. We also incorporate a handful of in-person events to better guide the group, showcase some of the equipment and build camaraderie. We’ll apply our lighthearted attitude into the training and plan to keep everyone connected (and motivated) using a group chat. People can join at anytime.

Join Us!
Are you ready for something completely different? Something that forces you to start the new year on a high note with a supportive peer group? Here's how to commit:


Save 10% with code: OWS-CHICAGO-10
and receive the Training Program details.

What Is a HYROX Event?
HYROX is a timed, indoor event that starts with a 1K run followed by 1 functional movement exercise, which repeats 8 times. Participants begin in small waves and complete the event on a continuous flow. The functional exercises, performed in this order, include:

  • SkiErg: 1,000m
  • Sled Push: 2x25m
  • Sled Pull: 2x25m
  • Burpee Broad Jumps: 80m
  • Rowing: 1,000m
  • Farmers Carry: 200m
  • Sandbag Lunges: 100m
  • Wall Balls: 100x

Check out a great explanation video here. More of the technical details, including the repetitions and weights for various divisions required can be found here.

What Is the Program Timeline?
We’re constructing a weekly journey to keep us focused through Chicago’s cold, dark winter. Participants can enroll at any time along the way, and the reality is that 4-6 weeks of training is sufficient. Here’s a quick glance at the calendar:

  • Week 1 | Mon, Dec 5:  (3) On Your Own (OYO) Workouts
  • Week 2 | Mon, Dec 12: (1) In-Person Session + (2) OYO
  • Week 3 | Mon, Dec 19: (3) OYO
  • Week 4 | Mon, Dec 26: (3) OYO
  • Week 5 | Mon, Jan 2: (1) In-Person Session + (2) OYO
  • Week 6 | Mon, Jan 9: (3) OYO
  • Week 7 | Mon, Jan 16: (1) In-Person Session + (2) OYO
  • Week 8 | Mon, Jan 23: (3) OYO
  • Week 9 | Mon, Jan 30: (1) In-Person Session + (2) OYO
  • Week 10| Mon, Feb 6: (3) OYO + HYROX (Sat, Feb 11)

What Participation Options Are Offered?
Just like triathlon offers options, so does HYROX. There are three unique ways to enroll:

  • Solo: Do it all. Yourself. It's challenging but very attainable.
  • Doubles: Teams of 2. Both run the entire 8K, but but split the workouts however they wish.
  • Relay Teams: A little taste of HYROX. Teams of 4 split the entire workout across the group.

Who’s Participating?
While we’re connecting with triathletes and endurance athletes, we’re truly reaching out to anyone interested in staying active and having some fun this winter. Like triathlon, HYROX is welcoming of “Every Body” regardless of age, fitness level and/or goals. There is no cut-off time for participants.

Ten of our Swim Coaches are committed to participating in the program and the HYROX event, with more will follow. The program is limited in space, with room for 50 total participants.

Where Are the Sessions Held?
Most of the training can be done at your local gym, or even at home, using minimal equipment. The in-person sessions will be held at partner gyms in the city (likely in River North and Downtown). The HYROX competition will be held at Navy Pier on Saturday, February 11 (all start times TBD).

How Much Does It Cost?
This is a pilot program, and there’s no cost to enroll. Participants will, however, need to register for the HYROX competition on their own (currently $170 + fees) using a special group code. 

What’s Included?
The development program will include:

  • Custom team T-shirt
  • Weekly training program
  • 4 in-person sessions
  • Access to expert HYROX instructors (and familiar Swim Coaches)
  • 24-7 group chat (via mobile app)
  • Team compound at the HYROX event
  • HYROX event participant swag: 
    • Finisher medal
    • Finisher hat
    • Finisher patch

Why Are We Doing This?
Several reasons: First, we’re incredibly excited (and, let’s be honest, equally terrified) to test the waters on something familiar but completely different with our friends. 

Second, we certainly understand the value of strength training on our performance and overall well-being, but (like many) we tend to avoid it like the plague. No more excuses -- it’s time to commit.

Third and most importantly, we want to keep our community engaged as we enter the cold winter months and explore the future. Our summer swim program has been well-received over the years, and participants have repeatedly asked for (a) more swim sessions and (b) full-fledged training plans. Supporting this project while sharing first-hand experiences feels like the perfect opportunity to take a risk and evolve.

What Are Next Steps?
If you’re interested, please enroll yourself in the HYROX event using the group code: OWS-CHICAGO-10. The team at HYROX will confirm your participation, and we'll immediately share the training emails and group training page links via email. 

Thanks for being open minded, and willing to take a new risk with us. We’re excited to try something completely different.

- Scott “Hootie” Hutmacher and your Open Water Swim CHICAGO Coaches



Save 10% with code: OWS-CHICAGO-10
and receive the Training Program details.




Q: How much training do I need?
A: There’s no easy answer since training volume is relative to fitness levels, available training time and goals. At a minimum, we recommend participants complete 2-3 workouts per week for 6-10 weeks to adequately prepare for HYROX.

Q: I don’t have a gym membership. Can I train at home?
A: Yes. Several of the exercises are body-weight based, and others can be modified using minimal or no gym equipment (at a minimum, a pair of dumbbells or kettle bells would suffice). Our training experts can prescribe specific fixes during the program. Everyone will need to run, whether on a treadmill or outdoors.

Q: Is strength training good for my endurance development?
A: Absolutely. Incorporating strength training into any cardio-based sport has been proven to increase performance while reducing the potential for injury. Many participants will quickly see enhancements in cycle power, run form and/or overall cardio efficiency while incorporating periodic strength programming.

Q: Are the HYROX functional movements safe?
A: Yes. The event circuit has been specifically designed by kinesiology experts. Each of the exercises are based upon natural body movements. There are few technical movements and no explosive, herky-jerky lifts required.

Q: What’s the best approach to training?
A: Like any endurance program, starting simple, gradually adding volume, and incorporating event-specific simulations will yield the best, safest results. Just like brick workouts in triathlon, this program will quickly overlap strength and running into the same workout.

Q: Can you share a few sample workouts?
A: Oh yeah! Here's a few idea of what you'll be doing (mixtures of cardio + strength). Workouts can be tailored relative to available equipment. Don't worry if you have no idea what these mean. We'll cover it all before we launch!

  • Workout A:
    • 1,000m Row
    • 100 Forward Lunges
    • 30 Burpees Over the Rower
    • 100 Air Squats
    • 1,000m Row 
  • Workout B:
    • 10 min Warm-Up Run
    • 6x400m @ 85% (w/ 60 sec easy recovery jog)
    • 10 min Cool-Down Jog
  • Workout C:
    • 50-40-30-20-10
      • CalSki
      • Wall Balls
    • 15 min AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
      • 500m Row
      • 500m Run
    • 5 Rounds of:
      • 10 DB Front Squats (w/ dumbbells)
      • 10 DB Push Press
      • 10 DB Burpees

Q: How will the training plans be shared?
A: We'll release weekly training plans a week-by-week basis. Week #1's curriculum will be emailed on Sunday, December 4. Subsequent weekly curriculum will be emailed on the Friday before the next week begins (e.g. Week #2's curriculum will be emailed on Friday, December 9). We're doing this for two reasons: To avoid overwhelming everyone with too much detail, and to provide adequate time to plan for the coming week. 

HYROX Event Participation

Q:  What is the race format of HYROX? 
A:  The race starts with a 1K run followed by 1 functional movement exercise, which repeats 8 times. Participants begin in small waves and complete the event in the same order on a continuous flow.

Q: Beyond participating on my own, are there other racing formats available? 
A: Yes, similar to triathlon there are alternate ways to participate:

  • Open: The standard, on-your-own format.
  • Doubles: Teams of 2 run together but split the exercise demands.
  • Relay Teams: Teams of 4 split the run and exercise portions.

Q: What does event weekend look like?
A: The competition will be held at Navy Pier, with competitions between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Like triathlon, participants are grouped into waves relative to gender, age and race format. Assuming we have a good showing, this program will have a dedicated team hang-out area on the competition floor.

Q:  Is there a time limit? 
A:  No. Everyone will have ample time to finish the event.

Q: How many people participate?
A: More than 1,500 athletes are expected to participate on February 11 at Navy Pier.

Q:  The February 11 HYROX event is listed as the North American Championship. Can I still participate? 
A:  Yes. The event is open and welcoming to championship non-qualifiers (like us)!

Q: What do I earn for participating?
A: All HYROX event participants earn swag, including a finisher medal, finisher hat and a finisher patch. This program provides a bit more support and perks (see above), especially with the expert coaching guidance!

Q: How can I learn more?
A: Drop us a line at We’ll take care of you!


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