Swim Around Charleston September 21, 2014

This was the fourth year for the SAC, and my second. The course runs from Remley's Point in Mount Pleasant, SC, crosses the Cooper River under the Ravenel Bridge, then hugs the peninsula, goes around the Battery, and runs up the Ashley River to the W.O. Thomas Landing near I 526. It is billed as 12 miles, but my paddler has worn by Garmin both years I've done it, and gotten 13 miles each time. Displayed on a map, my swim track looks pretty close to that advertised, so I think it may be that the race is longer, rather than me swimming astray.

The race directer sets the date and time of the start to catch the last of the ebb tide going down the Cooper and riding the flood up the Ashley. If you're really fast on the first three miles, you'll be facing some of the ebb coming down the Ashley. This has not been a problem for me!

This year's start was at noon. Water temp was between 80 and 82. Wind was NW at 10 to start, and slated to back around to the west and drop in velocity throughout the day. The eventual NNW, WNW, and W winds made for some roll and chop on the Ashley side of the course.

This is advertised as a great race to get started in marathon swimming, and I found that accurate last year. The tide assist really helps in the waning miles of the race. The race does have a relay division (2 and 4 person teams). Generally, I have seen the relays stay farther from the shore than the solo swimmers. Last year, I had no issue with them at all. This year, a relay team boat making an exchange placed itself squarely athwart my path, which was irritating (i would love to say I suffered in silence as I angled around the aft of the boat...but I did raise my head long enough to shout "Seriously?").

It is a beautiful course for the first 6 miles. Rainbow Row, the Battery, Charleston marina, and the Ashley River bridges. From mile 7 to the finish, however, there are mostly mud flats, reed beds, and factories to see.

The entry fee is steep at $225. At the finish (at least if you are in the last third of the pack, as I was both years) you are kind of on your own once a safety boat delivers you to the boat ramp. Maybe there is a bit more engaging of the leaders. For the fee, I would have expected a bit more to eat and drink at the end. Again, apparently, the folks who finished earlier noshed on sandwiches, fruit and cookies. The latter two were still evident for those of us bringing up the rear, but not the former.

All in all, however, it is a well run event. A ton of safety boats, a caring and enthusiastic race director, a beautiful (for the first half) course, and a lovely tide assist.



  • I did the swim as well and did a brief write up under "swim reports." Not quite as detailed as chcbrown's... but echo the final sentiment.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    Congrats you guys!

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

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
    Swim Around Charleston is on my 2015 list. As for the entry fee being $225 - I consider it inexpensive because swims that are point to point (instead of looping around buoys - finishing where you started) can be pretty complex when you are doing the logistics of swimmers / paddlers / kayaks / volunteers transport. Because I prefer the point to point swims I'll pay the extra freight to swim in them.
  • Thanks for this! I know it's outdated, but I'm doing the swim in a month and am looking for all the advice I can find!

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