Open Water Swim CHICAGO

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

Event Day Details

More than 90% of Tuesday's participants are preparing for the Chicago Triathlon, therefore the final session (on Tuesday, August 22) curriculum is modified to their final race preparation:

  • Swim Clinics: Coaches will offer an abbreviated "race prep" clinic that walks through the event logistics and simulates the time trial swim start process. Once the clinics have concluded, participants are encouraged to swim their full event distance on their own under supervision of staff and lifeguards.
  • Swim-On-Your-Own: After orientation on the beach, event staff will host a rolling start for those who prefer a true race simulation. Two turn buoys will be placed along the swim course: 375 meters (750m round trip) and 750 meters (1.5k round trip). Distance markers (in meters) will be posted at each exit ladder, indicating exact distance from the start. Review the swim course map for orientation.
  • Competitive Aquathlon: The Aquathlon (swim + run) begins at 6:00 PM with a briefing on the beach. Sprint distance Aquathletes will start in mass (not a rolling start) on a horn, followed by International distance athletes a few minutes later. Timing chips will track all splits. Please review the course map. Awards will be presented to the fastest female and male finishers in both 750m and 1500m swim courses. Results will be posted online.

Like last year, the the 2023 Chicago Triathlon features a hybrid wave + time-trial start process. Athletes will enter the swim start corral with their wave as usual. Participants will then self-seed within their wave, jockeying to the front or back of the line. They will cross the timing mat and enter the water side-by-side in a continuous, "rolling start" format. We will simulate this during Tuesday's session.

Tuesday's OWS event will feature an early Chicago Triathlon Athlete Briefing for registrants of this OWS session, held on the beach (adjacent to Caffe' Oliva) at approximately 8:00 PM. Athlete Briefings are mandatory for all Sprint and International distance participants. Those who stay for the entire briefing must also receive a token to take to packet pick-up in order to bypass the mandatory briefings held at the Health & Fitness Expo. Remember, all Chicago Triathlon participants are required to pick-up their race packets on their own at the Expo (we will not have race packets on the beach).


Following are preliminary, pre-event details for anyone registered for the 2023 Open Water Swim CHICAGO event. A final confirmation, including the session type, experience level and exact start time, will be emailed to all registered participants on the Friday prior to the event day. Changes are allowed until Monday of the event (sorry, no refunds or deferrals to later sessions). No changes are allowed within 24 hours of the event start.


All participants are required to check-in with a photo ID upon arrival and present a custom QR code to expedite the process (emailed prior to each event). We recommend participants arrive to the beach 45 minutes prior to their dedicated start time, allowing adequate time to check-in, grab a wetsuit, check gear, etc. Participants will be assigned into specific groups relative to their registration option. Upon completing the swim portion, all participants are asked to check-out with event staff located on the beach, ensuring all swimmers are clear of the water.

Each session will follow this schedule:

  • 3:00 PM   Check-In opens / Wetsuit rentals available
  • 4:00 PM   Session 1 starts
  • 4:45 PM   Session 1 ends
  • 5:15 PM   Session 2: starts
  • 6:00 PM   Aquathlon start
  • 6:00 PM   Session 2: ends
  • 6:30 PM   Session 3: starts
  • 7:15 PM   Session 3: ends
  • 7:30 PM   Water cleared / Life guards depart
  • 7:45 PM   Gear Check closes / Event concludes



  • Event check-in will take place at Ohio Street Beach, adjacent to Caffe’ Oliva. 
  • Registered participants will receive a numbered wristband and a color-coded swim cap. Swim cap colors are assigned to specific groups and coaches. They must be worn for the duration of the swim portion.
  • Urban Tri Gear will provide a small assortment of demo wetsuits on a first-come, first-served bases. A $25 rental fee will be charged. Please bring cash and a valid ID for collateral. Note: UTG will not provide rentals at the final session in August. Please contact Urban Tri Gear directly to purchase a wetsuit or rent one during race weekend. 
  • Complimentary Gear Check will be provided by Team Bright Side volunteers, and is recommended for small items only (keys, wallets, etc.). Cash tips and Venmo payments [@teambrightside] will be accepted and appreciated by this hard-working group. The event cannot be responsible for bikes and other large gear. Plan to lock them up on your own.
  • All groups will be briefed prior to entering the water. All swimmers are required to exit the water by 7:30 PM.
  • Come dressed for the swim! Ohio Street Beach has no changing facilities and limited restrooms. Caffé Oliva does offer restrooms, although they do not suffice for changing clothing.
  • The safety and security of participants is paramount. Chicago Park District Life Guards will patrol the swim course, and event staff will continually monitor weather and water conditions.  
  • Due to typical congestion around Ohio Street Beach and the Lakefront, please use caution and be aware of other cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Following your session, plan to congregate with everyone at Caffé Oliva, adjacent to the beach, for great camaraderie and beer specials!

Swimmers will participate in one of three event options, each with a precise start time which will be confirmed via email prior to the event:
1. Swim Clinic Option: These popular sessions are designed for new triathletes and open water swimmers. A collection of local coaches will offer basic swim education, then lead the small group through several swim drills with one-on-one feedback. Participants are encouraged to continue swimming on their own once the formal session concludes.

2. Swim-On-Your-Own OptionThis option is for those who prefer to utilize the event services but swim independently. After a brief orientation on the beach, these swimmers may enter the water and swim as much as they please. Event staff will simulate the rolling start process for those who prefer a race simulation. Two turn buoys will be placed along the swim course: 375 meters (750m round trip) and 750 meters (1.5k round trip). Distance markers (in meters) will be posted at each exit ladder, allowing swimmers to know their exact distance from the start buoy. Review the course map here.
3. Aquathlon
The Aquathlon (swim + run) will begin at 6:00 PM with a briefing on the beach. Aquathletes will swim a 750m or 1500m course (their choice) immediately followed by a 5K run along the lakefront. Finish times will be manually recorded by event staff. Awards will be presented to the fastest female and male finishers in both the 1500m and 750m swim courses. Please review the course map here. Aquathlon results are posted here 

Ohio Street Beach water temperatures will measure 55-75°F through the season. Accurate readings will be shared prior to each session. While temperatures are comfortable, we strongly advise participants to use a swim-specific wetsuit and bring warmer clothes for the post-swim.
While we hope for great conditions, we will monitor weather patterns along with local officials. Given the unpredictable nature of Chicagoland weather, we will not make any weather related decisions until event day. If necessary, weather advisories will be sent throughout the day and posted in the Discussions area on Open Water Swim CHICAGO’s Facebook page. In the case of unfavorable conditions, it will be up to the Event Manager, Chicago Park District and/or Chicago Fire Department to make weather-related event decisions.

  ·   Swim suit (swim caps will be issued)
  ·   Goggles *
  ·   Towel
  ·  Water bottle (bring your own hydration, as the water fountain has been removed)
  ·  Wetsuit (optional)
  ·  Warm, post-swim clothing (it will get chilly on the beach)
  ·  Extra money for post-event socializing at Caffé Oliva.


Urban Tri Gear will provide a small inventory of demo wetsuits for use during these sessions (excluding August 23 and all Saturday OWS sessions). A $25 rental fee applies, which can be used as credit towards purchase of a new wetsuit. Urban Tri Gear also offers 5-day wetsuit rentals ($55 sleeveless, $65 full-sleeve) as part of these sessions. Please contact Urban Tri Gear to secure your rental in advance. They will coordinate all logistics. Due to anticipated demand from cold water temperatures, we strongly advise all swimmers obtain their own wetsuit prior to attending the session.

Parking can be tricky in the area, so we strongly recommend reserving a nearby garage spot using SpotHero. Click the link below to find garages as low as $13-15 within two blocks of Ohio Street Beach.

The August 22 event will feature an early Chicago Triathlon Athlete Briefing exclusively for registrants of this OWS session, held on the beach (adjacent to Caffe' Oliva) at approximately 8:00 PM. In 2023, Athlete Briefings are once again mandatory for #ChiTri registrants. Special tokens will be distributed for attendees. All Chicago Tri participants are required to attend the Expo to pick-up their race packets (we will not have them at the beach) and attend an Athlete Briefing (if you haven't already).


This event has a strict no-refund and no-transfer policy, especially due to the limited capacity. If you are unable to attend for any reason, you are not eligible for reimbursement. Should the session be cancelled, management will do its best to offer a make-good relevant to the situation but refunds will not be issued. Thank you for understanding.

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