Observing opportunities in the Midwest, specifically Chicago

Reading through some of Evan’s blogs on swim observations, it seems like a good opportunity to learn marathon swimming for a variety of reasons.

You crew on a boat, you get the lay of the land with marathon swims, maybe get to swim as a pacer, possibly provide kayak support, mix nutrition, see how the boat is piloted on a swim, etc…

If you live in California or near the English channel, opportunities to crew on these boats abound. Other areas, I am not sure how to get started.

I live in Chicago and would like to learn how to observe. Other than flying out to California, how to people in these areas go about gaining swim observation apprenticeships?

I have swam with Open Water Chicago since 2010 and occasionally with the Point Swimmers. I cannot recall ever having anyone discuss doing an observation for anyone in those groups.



  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    Good question, @tbaldi !

    I'm not aware of any regular marathon swim events or sanctioned solo swims in the Chicago area - hence the lack of observing opportunities.

    NYC is a pretty easy flight from Chicago (or at least easier than LA) - perhaps you could get involved in one of the NY Open Water 20 Bridges events as an observer or crew.

    For a while I've been wanting to compile some web-based "observer education" materials as part of the MSF project... alas, just one of many items on the to-do list!

    Best scenario, maybe someday someone will develop a major marathon swim in Lake Michigan. What a beautiful body of water for swimming, and I'd think it certainly has the population to support it.

  • tbaldi,

    Thanks for posting about this. I am also in the Chicago area and looking for ways to gain experience and education about marathon swimming. I still have not found that winning lotto ticket, so I am not able to do as much swim related travel as I want. Maybe we can start a pool or list of people who are looking to get involved and make it available to people looking for support crew.

  • Copelj26Copelj26 ChicagoMember

    I know the ALS swims, in the Chicagoland area, asked in their end of year questionnaire if people were interested in a 10km next year. Not sure what the responses were yet. I will check in with Doug. Other option which I am hoping to offer my services for next year is to be an angel swimmer at some of the 5km events, not quite observing but at least it might feel like I am giving something back.

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member

    A Seattle swimmer (not me, and not on the forum) is thinking about a swim or two in her home state of MI next summer and will be looking for an observer and possibly some support. She'd be glad top hear there are some willing people in the area.


    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • Thanks Evan. While the opportunities for a little boat cruise around Lake Michigan are few and far between, there are probably some opportunities like the one you did off Promontory Point to qualify for MIMS while sitting on the revetment.

    Might be interesting to hold a training session at Promontory or elsewhere on how to do it, feed using kayaks, etc.. and try to simulate it as best of possible.

  • I'm also in the same boat - Chicagoish person looking for opportunities to lend a hand observing, etc...

  • While I have never been an observer I have been observed a few times by some of the best. If you guys get something happening up at the point I would be interested in traveling up. I hope to do a bit of volunteering next season but more in the crewing/pacing vein.

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