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Choosing the Perfect Open Water Swim Location

Embarking on an open water swimming adventure is an exhilarating experience, but selecting the right location can make all the difference. In this blog post, we'll explore the essential factors to consider when choosing the perfect open water swim location. From water temperature and safety to accessibility and scenic beauty, discover how to make the most informed decisions for an unforgettable open water swimming experience.

Water Temperature:

One of the first considerations when choosing an open water swim location is the water temperature. Optimal conditions vary depending on personal preference and tolerance levels. Some swimmers prefer warmer waters for a more comfortable experience, while others thrive in cooler temperatures for a refreshing swim. Research the average water temperatures of potential locations to align with your comfort zone.

Keep in mind that tidal waters can bring in cooler water, as can currents. If you're getting into "moving" water, consider talking to a local to learn about the range of temps you may experience. I've swam in the ocean where there were warm and cold streams every few feet, with temps varying by up to 10 degrees as I swam through them.


Accessibility is a key factor that can greatly influence your choice of an open water swim location. Look for venues with easy entry points, convenient parking, and facilities like changing rooms or bathrooms. The more accessible a location is, the smoother your overall experience will be. Additionally, check if there are any regulations or restrictions in place, such as permit requirements or designated swimming areas.

In most publicly accessible swimming areas, you run the risk of having your items stolen; that's one of the reasons I designed the Quackpacker. Even if you're not using the fabulous Quackpacker, try to bring your car keys, wallet, phone, and other valuables with you into the water so you don't have to worry about hitchhiking home in your skivvies later.

Safety Measures:

Safety should always be a top priority when choosing an open water swim location. Investigate the presence of lifeguards, emergency services, and safety protocols. Consider the visibility of the water, potential hazards such as strong currents or marine life, and the availability of safety equipment like buoys. Familiarize yourself with local weather conditions and be mindful of any potential risks before taking the plunge.

If you're swimming in a new location, consider going with a local group. If that's not possible, stay close to shore as you investigate and get comfortable in the new surroundings.

Scenic Beauty:

Wild open water swimming and adventuring is not just about the physical exercise; it's also an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature's beauty. Swimming in a new place can nourish your soul and give you such a thrill from the adventure. One of my favorite places to swim in the PNW is Lost Lake. The crystal clear waters combined with the view of Mt. Hood leave me with a smile on my face for weeks after. If you're feeling burnt out or bored at your usual swim spots, consider planning a trip (even a local one) to a new swimming hole to regain that sense of intrigue and adventure.

Some of Wild Waters' favorite swim spots:

  • Lake Willoughby, VT

  • Lost Lake, OR

  • Walden Pond, MA

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