6-hour Qualification Swim locations around the world

loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
edited February 2018 in Locations & Networking
Many of us get emails asking for advice for upcoming Channel swims. One question that arises is people trying to find locations where others may be doing qualification swims for MIMS, Catalina, English Channel etc, particularly the EC. The first time doing a 6 hour is a pretty big deal and it's always better (I think) if done with others either more experienced and/or just as trepidatious.

Dover is obviously the location for many Channel qualification swims, on Saturdays and Sundays after the season starts (which will be Sat 28th April this year), usually 9am.

Sanycove in Ireland is another popular location with the last Sunday of Ned's Distance week being set aside for qualification swims (Sunday June 24th this year) and with qualification swims also being done there on other dates with support from other swimmers usually being available.

It might be a good idea for those of you who know any places where qualification swims will go ahead as part of a larger community (like CIBBOWS, La Jolla etc, Melbourne, Perth) (even if you don't know the date) to share any in for you might have for Aspirants who could join you? I've had a few requests for the Eastern US coast, south of New York (Florida, Louisiana, Carolina).




  • GordsGords Syracuse, UTCharter Member
    edited April 2012
    I did my qualifier in the Great Salt lake(USA) last May. It was an awesome day! If anyone wants to do a qualifier in the Great Salt Lake( or Bear Lake which is another wonderful option in Utah), I will take the day off and paddle for you!
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I did my MIMS qualifier in Austin, Texas. There are a few places there that fit the bill perfectly, depending on the time of year.

    Promontory Point in Chicago is perfect and I'd be more than happy to observe (or swim with) anyone there. You don't even need a kayak because there's a perfect place to have your feeds thrown in from land. Water temperature is very unpredictable though.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    or even Ohio St beach at Navy Pier. Both are one mile loops which is a bit repetitive, but the views are great.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    If anyone wants to come to Colorado and do a swim at altitude, let me know!
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    If anyone wants to try it at Blue Marsh Lake (near Reading, Pennsylvania), let me know and I will observe/swim/canoe/whatever you need. Swimming anywhere there is legal and the inlet part of the lake is a no wake zone, so no hassles with boats/jet skis. I can probably figure out anywhere from a 1 to 12 mile hassle-free loop. If you need accomodations, you're welcome to crash at my dumpy apartment (50 miles from lake) as long as you aren't allergic to cats - I have two.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • Bala Lake (in North Wales) is nice and long (3+ miles). I would be happy to support anyone using it. It can get busy on summer weekends as there are a couple of sailing clubs and an activities centre that use it.
    Cheers, Dan

    Dan Graham - Gone Swimming Ltd.
    web | facebook | twitter

  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    Pennsylvania Lakes will stay under 60 until at least mid-May! If anyone wants to come here, I'd be glad to swim with you!

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    edited April 2012
    Before withdrawing my date with the EC, I did a six hour qualifier with Willy B. off of Brighton Beach...Swimming in Coney Island is like none other! Still have an unpaid parking ticket as a reminder of the day however!
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    Hi, I'm going to Gozo with Swimtrek on Saturday (Long Distance training tour). I am hoping to do my 6 hour qualifier out there as part of the group... if the weather holds out.

    If the weather is good then I can imagine that it would be a lovely place to do the 6 hour swim.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    I did a 6 hour in the Hudson River (from Beacon to New Hamburg in a little loop).
    As with Brighton Beach/ Coney Island; 60 degrees is a transitional temperature for bodies of water in this region, so if a swimmer is looking for the ideal situation for their 6 hour, they should be prepared to strike at any time, as a weeks delay will likely bring temperatures higher than the maximum allowed.

    @ZoeSadler Here is a friend's great write up of her Gozo experience: http://throwmeintheocean.com/tag/gozo/

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    My dream qualifier has not yet been realized....It started out as a double Bay to Breakers (SF Bay bridge under Golden Gate and turn left to Ocean beach and the back and then keep going for at least 6 hours)...but what happened is I ran into a flood outside the Golden Gate and had to turn around and go back under the Golden Gate Bridge and then under the Bay Bridge and ended at Candlestick Park....8+ hour swim so someday someone will do this swim...there is swimming, tactics and luck involved in the swim....

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    @Sharko - Great Swim!
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    Depending on the time of year, the lakes of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont can more than do the trick and NEKOWSA would be happy to work with anyone looking for support during a qualifier.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited February 2018
    Santa Barbara probably belongs on this list. Water temps cooler than LA but warmer than SF. November through early June is the window for EC qualifiers (July-October slightly too warm). Group swims with the Ocean Ducks at Butterfly Beach on the weekends and Goleta Beach on M/W/F. Typically not much surf to contend with. Follow in the "footsteps" of Lynne Cox, who swam laps between Goleta Beach and Coal Oil Point while she attended UCSB. PM me for more info.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    If anyone wants to try it at Blue Marsh Lake (near Reading, Pennsylvania), let me know and I will observe/swim/canoe/whatever you need. -LBJ

    I may take you up on that next year, @Leonard_Jansen. I have relatives in/near Reading (I grew up there in the 70's), so accomodations would be easy. ;)

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    Phoenix area lakes are in the high 50s to low 60s in March/April and November/December. They warm up and cool off at different rates, so if your preferred lake is too warm or too cold, you can always switch to a different one.

    Lake Pleasant is still at 61. It's the largest of the area lakes, so the temperature changes more slowly. You can check here: http://www.pleasantharbor.com/

    Saguaro Lake, Bartlett Lake and Canyon Lake are already in the mid 60s, so too late for this Spring. There's no website to get the actual temperature for those lakes, but you can get a pretty good estimate by using the temperature for Tempe Town Lake: http://www.tempe.gov/wx/townlake.aspx. Check the Tempe Town Lake temperature at 7am. In the Spring, subtract one degree to estimate the other lake temperatures. In the Fall, add a degree.

    The lakes here are beautiful. They're all surrounded by mountains and pristine desert. The water is clean, but visibility is low. It would be possible to do a 6-hour swim without a kayak, but you could do a much nicer course if you had an escort.

    This link has maps for all the lakes: http://watergirl.co/content/open-water-swimming-arizona
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    IronMike wrote:
    If anyone wants to try it at Blue Marsh Lake (near Reading, Pennsylvania), let me know and I will observe/swim/canoe/whatever you need. -LBJ

    I may take you up on that next year, @Leonard_Jansen. I have relatives in/near Reading (I grew up there in the 70's), so accomodations would be easy. ;)

    That would be great! As the time gets closer, let me know what you'll need so I can scout things out, etc. As an added bonus, although good pizza is hard to come by in this part of the world, the best pizza in PA is just a few miles from the lake - post swim fuel.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member
    edited February 2018
    Looking for recommendations on a good place to get in a few days of cold water swimming and a kayak-supported 6-hour swim this October or November. I was thinking La Jolla or San Diego, but totally open to suggestions. I'm concerned about my cold water adaptability and would feel a lot more confident about my EC crossing attempt next summer if I could get this accomplished this fall. Thanks!

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Factors I would consider in making this decision:

    - Safety from boat traffic. La Jolla Cove and Aquatic Park in SF are the best bets, and you wouldn't even necessarily need kayak support.

    A kayak expands your range of options, and then it really comes down to: Where do you want to spend your few days of vacation?

    - Presence of other swimmers. La Jolla Cove, Oak Street in Laguna, Goleta Beach & Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara, Avila Beach, Aquatic Park SF.

    - Water temperature. La Jolla is likely to be fairly warm in October/November, compared to what you'll experience in the EC. Aquatic Park in SF might be a better option if you're looking for EC water temps.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    If you didn't want to travel all the way to Cali, the Denver area usually has some suitable lakes in the October time-frame. (I did my 6 hour in a lake in Fort Collins in mid-October.) I'm sure there are a few of us here who would be willing to help you out! Though, I admit, swimming circles in a lake isn't as much fun as La Jolla!
  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member
    @evmo and @ssthomas, thank you both for your helpful suggestions. I didn't know southern California would be that warm -- or that the Denver area wouldn't be covered in ice at that time of year. Hmmmmm. Good options to have!

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • JbetleyJbetley UKMember
    La Jolla is great. From the Cove the Shores and back is 2 miles. You could leave your feeds at the lifeguard station right on the beach at the Cove so long as you were OK feeding every hour (or more, or less depending how fast you are). I was swimming in the Cove in December on a visit to SD, and the temperature was a delightful 64F. If you want to adhere to Channel Rules then you would need a kayaker, but there is such an awesome community round there that it shouldn't be too hard to arrange through your own contacts or social media. I have been hatching an idea to swim from the Cove to Del Mar (10 miles?) for cocktails on the beach. Not sure when it is going to happen though......
  • WalterWalter Southern CaliforniaMember
    More SD/La Jolla talk, if you can stand it! - I swam a 13-or-so miler weekend before last ending in the Cove - that could be a good course for your 6-hour. With a kayak-only escort, it would be convenient and cheap. I highly recommend something like that over laps in the Cove. Also, it might be a bit cooler in Coronado, if you are already here and find the termperature too high in La Jolla. Happy to help you plan a 6-hour there (and swim it with you). Good luck!

    I'm not very popular around here; but I've heard that I'm huge in Edinburgh!

  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member
    Thanks, @Walter. I ended up buying a kayak, so there goes my fall ocean swim. But I would enjoy getting to La Jolla one of these days!

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • njoynjoy Member
    Molly, you are always welcome to come to Long Island and swim around here. There are some nice beaches. The one I swim at has a nice two-mile stretch. Water temp in October and November will be low 60s down into the 50s. There might be little stinging critters out there though (ugh). If you're looking for something in the spring, we have plenty of cold water, with fewer critters. I'd be happy to help you out, either in a kayak or on land.
  • morecircusmorecircus San FranciscoGuest
    A swimmer can swim coves San Francisco Bay Aquatic Park. Also thru South End Rowing Club (membership) find swim buddies to pilot you anyplace in SF Bay. For my 10hour SF Bay qualifier 2013 I jumped from beach, swam around Alcatraz clockwise, swam towards Bay Bridge never arriving due to strong ebb, returned swimming to Aquatic Park, swam back & fourth towards Bay Bridge, returning for my last one hour inside the cove. I live 5" bicycle ride from Aquatic Park -- contact me.
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    In the Pacific Northwest, the northern and middle portions of the Puget Sound are almost never over 60F. Perfect for that late-season qualifier. And Lake Washington is below 60 until early June. Complimentary coffee and Top Pot donuts are provided.

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

  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    For folks on the US east coast, I recommend @RonCollins’ services in the St Pete/ Tampa area (month of January). Built-in witnesses and kayaker. Also, depending on the water temperature, Ron can take you either to the bay or the gulf – so you double your chances of getting the right temperature. I believe Ron also has negotiated a discount at a reasonably priced hotel.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    Colorado is good for swims in May-October, if you want a high altitude lake swim. There are plenty of us out here who would be happy to help. Just say the word!
  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaMember
    There are a number of spots on the west coast of British Columbia and off the coast of Vancouver Island Canada. Some months you can use a English Bay which is right downtown. As it gets warmer out you can swim across the bay in west Vancouver or around any of the gulf islands.
  • ttriventtriven Senior Member
    This is a great thread. I will most likely be doing mine next year or the year after in Santa Barbara. I like an out and back swim, and with such a nice stretch from Hendry's to Goleta or further, I look forward to going there in May or June. This year was unusually warm and June was over 60 I think. It would be great to have company, or know that someone will be around to shame me if I get out too soon.
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    If anybody is ever in Cornwall and wants to do a qualifier, Crinnis beach in St Austell Bay has a perfectly straight 1km stretch which is totally safe and can be swum without boat support. I've swum for four hours here, supporting another swimmer but would happily do 6. I'm also happy to feed anybody who ever finds themselves here on their travels. Cheers and Happy New Year.
  • mpfmarkmpfmark Teesside England Charter Member
    North Sea at Seaton Carew nr Hartlepool North East England never above 15°c usually interesting conditions, life guards in operation over summer months but also lots of volunteers around to help with feeds and kit security. large tides so you need someone on the beach to negate long walks to the drinks etc

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member

    I did mine in Ft Myers, FL in January 2001. The Gulf of Mexico can be chilly in winter. I just did loops on my own with my girlfriend waking the beach taking notes.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    San Fran Bay is running about 57F60F right now, There are lots of folks that can help with feeding, documenting and encouraging.
    All you need is the day use fee of $10 to swim in the cove with either the SERC or DC. If you want to complicate things and go outside the cove you will need to have a pilot ( NOT from SERC or DC) but you can happily play in the cove for hours. ping me if you have questions or want help.
    Lots of folks want to swim around , across, along the bay which is all well and good. BUT>> if you are doing a 6 hour , it is wonderful training for the mind , as well as the body to GET BORED going around in loops ( big or small ) in the environs of Aquatic Park Cove. Also, if you stay in the cove, you are more likely to have a few folks show up and "co-swim" and if things go pear shaped you are right near warm sauna, food and safety. Once you have your 6 hr under your belt , THEN you can play with the locale. It's also cheaper to just stay in the cove.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    In the past month , we have had 2 Six hour swims IN the cove ( Aquatic Park SF)as well as last week 2 EIGHT hour swims completed.
    Antonio Arguelles came up from Mexico City to do a 6 hr No Channel qualifier and then last weekend a friend Susan Blew as well as Antonio A and Nora T swam in our little pool. Most of it was done in the cove, with some jaunts out around the breakwater and to Ft Mason but temps were well within the required min/max and there was a fair bit of chop/texture as well.
    Come on in, the water's fine...

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited June 2016

    San Fran Aquatic Park and its environs...a splendid locale for a 6hr swim.
    You can get a little, or a lot, of everything!

  • Hanzo993Hanzo993 Barletta-Andria-TraniMember

    It is possible to do the Qualification swim 2 years before the English Channel Crossing?

  • njoynjoy Member

    There are nice places to swim in the Long Island Sound in New York. Water temp is agreeable for this in May or late September. If anyone is in the NY area, let me know. I'd be happy to help. I have a guest room and a kayak. :)

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    Cawsand/ Kingsand in Cornwall, a short ferry ride from Plymouth. We now have quite a few swimmers doing back to back 6 hour swims here in the summer. There are swim buoys along to Kingsand and a decent stretch the other way, out to former fishing cellars on the green headland to the left. Not only that, but it's exceptionally clear water, beautiful and unspoilt. Water temp usually stays below 16c until late August.

  • GlobalSwimmerGlobalSwimmer New York NYMember
    edited February 2018

    Hi all - I need to do my 6-hour qualifying swim for an English Channel attempt by April 30, and was wondering where I could find 60F or so waters during April, hopefully not too far away from New York? Is anybody aware of a good spot during that month? Many thanks in advance

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    What about the great lakes? I wouldn't be surprised if they were that range or colder in April, but I'd have to look at some data to know for sure.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    Maybe Lake George, depending on what spring is like. Its high for April is 59 degrees. I am sure the New York gang can give you the 411 on Lake George.

  • JustSwim said:
    Maybe Lake George, depending on what spring is like. Its high for April is 59 degrees. I am sure the New York gang can give you the 411 on Lake George.

    Ice should be out of Lake George in April, but I don't think you want to be swimming in it for too long! (Lake George was 59-62 in June last year, for reference.)

    Coney Island should hit the right temps on its way up in May, but if you really need to do this by the end of April, you may have to head a bit further south. Charleston, perhaps?

  • Swimmer18Swimmer18 PennsylvaniaMember

    This web site might be useful in trying to find a suitable location - Good luck.


  • JaimieJaimie NYCMem​ber
    edited February 2018

    Yes, Charleston would be great - I thought maybe the water might go a bit above 60 there by April but maybe @j9swim or @rosemarymint can advise. Looked like Maryland would be in the high 50s at that time if you needed to be sure to be under 60. Big thank you @JBirrrd for your offer of help!!!

    Okay, final update! @thelittlemerwookie and I were just brainstorming...she had a great idea. If you are going to be in Cape Town in April, maybe you could do a 6 hour swim there, or tack on to your Robben Island? Looks like it should be around the right temperature...

  • GlobalSwimmerGlobalSwimmer New York NYMember

    Thank you all for the super helpful responses and links (I loved the link from @Swimmer18). @Jaimie and @thelittlemerwookie - you're right in that I could get it done in Cape Town but my time there is limited and may end up exhausted from the Robben swim already. So doing it in advance in Maryland with @JBirrrd super kind help would be probably best. I love how OWS sometimes turns into a Maths problem :-) Thank you again all!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    Water in Charleston is already just about 60, so probably way too warm by April! Honestly, there are springs where it's already 60 along the Jersey Shore back bays. It just depends on how fast things warm up. MD might be good, but might already be too warm. My advice - be flexible about location. ID a few spots. I am in Charleston now, but can definitely help you ID some good qualifying spots in NJ as that's where I swam for >8 years.

  • GlobalSwimmer said:
    you're right in that I could get it done in Cape Town but my time there is limited and may end up exhausted from the Robben swim already.

    Are you doing the Freedom Swim? I am. :) I agree that Charleston will be way too warm. Somewhere in the mid-Atlantic is probably your best bet.

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member

    Let’s make this happen, @GlobalSwimmer. As noted in our e-mail exchanges, we have 3 options for you across the state. One of them will be within your temp range during your time window. The lakes will be thawed by then and there is always the bay.

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