Participant Information


The Chicago River Swim is a 2.4 mile point-to-point swim scheduled to start in Ping Tom Park in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood and finish in front of the River Theater at the Clark Street Bridge along Chicago’s famous Riverwalk. The inaugural event is limited to a select audience and small capacity. Please review all qualifications and requirements.

Prior to accessing the start line, qualified participants must attend an Event Briefing. In addition, participants must attend packet pick-up in person on Friday or Saturday during event weekend. No exceptions.

On event morning, participants are required to convene at the Tiny Tapp (70 W Wacker Dr) by 5:45 AM where they will board a large vessel and be transported to Ping Tom Park for the start. Event staff will offer a final athlete briefing during the cruise along the south branch. 

Participants will start in groups of 50 swimmers, released every few minutes from Ping Tom Park dock in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. Participants will swim north, following a line of buoys until reaching the Lake Street Bridge, where they will turn right (east) and finish in front of the River Theater at the Clark Street Bridge. Participants will exit the water just beyond the finish line – at the Tiny Tapp on Chicago’s famous Riverwalk, host of the Post-Race Party.

Spectators are encouraged to view the Chicago River Swim from pre-determined “Spectating Zones” along the course, primarily areas that are near the river and clear of automobile traffic and overhead bridges. Please consult the official Course Map for exact locations and projected timelines.

Participants will select a division relative to gender and their preferred level of competition during the registration process, including: 

  • Elite: Well-experienced, non-professional athletes who meet a qualifying time standard (TBD)
  • Age Group: The default category for amateur athletes. Age Group participants are subdivided by 10-year age increments (20-29, 30-39, etc) relative to athlete age as of December 31 of the current year.
  • Open: This non-competitive division allows participants to focus on the distance without the added pressure of being timed. Note: course time cutoffs still apply.

Note: There are no relay swim options.

Participants must pick-up their race packets on event weekend and attend a mandatory, in-person Athlete Briefing prior to the event. No exceptions.

Awards will be issued to top-performing Elite and Age Group finishers during an Awards Ceremony following the event.

Participants will receive a goodie bag at packet pick-up which includes a variety of exciting swag (including a plush bath robe), swim cap, timing chip, post-swim snacks and adult beverages. The full list of Goodie Bag inserts will be declared soon.