Swimcationing the 50 States

One of my long-term goals is to swim in all 50 states and write about it to provide swimcationers a first-hand view of what my experience has been like swimcationing in our beautiful country!  With all this great place we call home has to offer, Swimcationing the 50 Sates is easier than you think, provides just as much if not more enjoyment than an exotic trip, and can be family affordable for lasting water memories.  Hopefully by reading through my favorites, you are inspired to take a swimcation of your own and experience a part of the country that you may not have thought about otherwise.  I believe in diversity in life, specifically diversity in the water we swim and cultures we experience to enrich our views and joys.


Favorite Pool: Brahan Spring Park Natatorium, 2213 Drake Ave SW, Huntsville, Alabama.  This is a short/long course pool that has a retractable roof and beautiful windows around most of the pool.  It has gorgeous mountain valley views that I couldn’t get enough of, has Masters programs and is open for lap swim to the public.



OWS Event – Salt Water: Change Your Latitude 57˚ N, one of the northern-most swim challenges in the world. All I can say is between the location, the inclusiveness of the swim at 1, 3, 6 and 10k distances wetsuit or skin, the hiking, the animal rehabilitation and conservation efforts, this is the place to be and I’ll definitely be back. The water is roughly 55˚F on average, could be warmer/colder, but is considered a cold water swim. The adventure swims the day before are definitely worth it, especially if you are confident in your abilities in swimming solo and being 1:1 with nature. Main things to be aware of is the cold and wildlife in the water (jellyfish, sea lions, etc), definitely a swim not to pass up!

Change Your Latitude Swim_040.JPG


OWS Event – Fresh Water: Ironcare Splash & Dash (hosted by 4 Peaks Racing), 1 or 2K, Lake Tempe Town, Tempe, Arizona.  This was a great event with water entry at the Special Event Ramp, on the north side of the lake between Mill and Rural.  The water was warm (a little too warm for a wetsuit) and it is a great site as the swim was run parallel to the shore, perfect for spectators.  Check local city ordinances for swim regulations and algae / toxin levels. I probably wouldn’t go back as I’ve heard and seen photos of much nicer places to swim in Arizona, but this was a major milestone for me in competitions and I was very happy to have a place to compete where my family could watch.


State swimming favorites coming soon!


Favorite Pool: Belmont Pool at Long Beach, 4320 E Olympic Plaza, Long Beach, California.  This pool is an AWESOME pool, open to the public, short/long course and right on Long Beach.  Swim under the palms and sun or take a dip in the ocean off Long Beach.  Fun history of the pool, Belmont pool was home to U.S. Olympic Trials in 1968 and 1976.


OWS Event – Salt Water: Alcatraz Sharkfest (2013), 1.5 miles, Aquatic Park, San Francisco, California.  The Sharkfest swim series has a lot of great events, including the Alcatraz swim, which starts at Alcatraz Island swimming into Aquatic Park at Fisherman’s Wharf.  After the race, lots to do!  Grab some chowder, shop for souvenirs, taste some chocolate, ride the trolley or just hang out and swim some more!

OWS Fun Swim – Salt Water: La Jolla Cove, La Jolla – San Diego, California. This cove is one of the most beautiful places I’ve swam! The garibaldi fish are these little bright orange tropical fish that are everywhere, you have seals swim with you, sea lions, and tons of other fish. In the underwater park there are starfish, urchins, sea grass, and beautiful kelp beds. The area is absolutely stunning. There are always swimmers present, so whether you’re looking for a workout swim or just want to play around and seek out adventure under the surface, this place is perfect. There’s lots to do in the area too such as viewing the sea lions (careful, they’re a little stinky) and eating some amazing brick oven pizza by the beach!

La Jolla Cove


Favorite Pool: Edora Pool Ice Center (EPIC), 1801 Riverside Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado. I stopped by this pool on the way to visit family and loved it! There is a visitor fee, but it’s pretty cheap, tons of lane space, and lots of room to spread out. One of my favorite things to do after the swim was relax and watch the teams at hockey practice.

OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: I had the pleasurable experience of completing my first ice mile at Wolcott Lake, in Denver, Colorado, which is a private community lake we were fortunate enough to use per arrangement with the Community Association. Open water swimming in the immediate Denver area is tough, so I felt lucky to squeeze this one in. If you visit, link up with CROWS (Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming) to ask about the permit situation at the various state parks. We visited Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado, which does have swimming, but by permit only (although I believe that has changed recently). I’m not familiar with the rules, so rule of thumb, do your research and know before you go.

Swim Colorado


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


Favorite Pool: Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center, 8422 International Dr, Orlando, Florida.  I love this pool!  The aquatic center hosts a short/long course pool with retractable roof, which is great to combat the afternoon storms.  It is conveniently located next to several hotels and a great location to Kissimmee, Disney World, and a short drive to beautiful Cocoa Beach.

OWS Event – Salt Water: Tampa Bay Frogman (2015), 5K, Tampa, Florida.  One of my favorite events in Tampa Bay, this is a highway park-side start off Gandy Blvd N to Picnic Island, cross-bay swim.  The swim benefits the Navy Seal Foundation, is all volunteer staffed, and includes safety kayakers for each swimmer.  The event sells out quick, sometimes under and hour, so set your alarm clock and get in your entry!

Tampa Bay Frogman Swim


State swimming favorites coming soon!

Hawaiian IslandsOWS Fun Swim – Salt Water on Island of Hawai’i: There’s so much on the Island of Hawai’i that it’s hard to know where to start, but the most important, please buy and wear reef safe sunscreen! Let’s start with Hilo, it’s great, but definitely the more local side. Beaches are harder to come by because they are nestled between private property, there isn’t many signs, and (by intention) are harder to find. We loved Carlsmith Beach Park and Richardson Ocean Park because they were easy to find and had parking. I loved Hilo because it was more local and less touristy, but that came at a price by spending most of the time trying to find a beach to swim, less time actually swimming, and more time driving over to the touristy side to swim where the water was generally calmer. So, if you’re looking swim swim destinations, the famous Kailua-Kona side is what I recommend and it is touristy for a reason. There is the famous Ironman course right downtown, Magic Sands Beach is small, but totally worth it and you can swim over to the Ironman Swim Course. A little further South is Two Step at Honaunau Bay, which is great for snorkeling, but get there early because parking can be tight. To the North there are several scuba diving tours with snorkeling ride-alongs for a really reasonable price so you can swim and snorkel to your delight.

My favorite, Captain Cook Monument, which is the best snorkeling I’ve seen on the island! Tips as a swimmer about Captain Cook, there is a hike down, which is hot, like I felt like I was going to pass out on the way back up hot. The hike was beautiful and absolutely 100% worth it to do once, but I wouldn’t do it again. There are snorkeling tours that take you there, but you have limited time on the tour. Across the bay from Captain Cook Monument is a small park, Manini Beach, and the Kealakekua Bay Boat Ramp, neither of which I visited so I have no clue on parking, etc. However, it is approximately a 2K one-way coastal swim (4K round-trip swim) over to Captain Cook and I am definitely going to try that instead next time. Captain Cook was hands down my favorite swim spot on the island, but this mermaid is not a land animal and will try swimming over there next time instead!



OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: It was called the place to be and I finally know why Coeur d’Alene is the vacation destination for water lovers in Idaho and the bordering states. It’s big, it’s beautiful, the water is cool, but not too cold (that refreshing coolness), and it’s crystal clear. I swam in several spots right in town and just outside and the nice easy stretch of beach along the Coeur d’Alene City Park & Beach is easy, accessible, and great for families. It’s by tons of restaurants, kayak rentals, parasailing adventures, it’s just a great place to be. If you’re a little more adventurous, you can either kayak over to or drive over to Tubbs Hill, a 120 nature park just outside of the city, with trails, swimming around mini islands and over to Sanders Beach, and secluded beaches. It’s a super fun “adventure” swim in the city limits so you’re not too far away from standard amenities. One of the biggest things I enjoyed is that Coeur d’Alene is truly a vacation destination for all budgets. There is camping, budget hotels, and resorts. There is cheap and good local food, coffee shops, themed restaurants and fine dining. There are free trails and low cost kayak rentals, to hiking areas, nature parks, seaplane rides, parasailing, private golf clubs and lake dinner cruises. Whatever your budget is, you can make this a place for you. I loved everything about this destination and can’t wait to explore more outside of the city and all around this absolutely stunning lake!

Coeur d'Alene


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Ohio Street Beach, 400 N. Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois.  I knew going to Chicago that I would want a sunrise swim in Lake Michigan and what I got was a beautiful morning and tons of swimmers! Lake Michigan has always been one of my favorite places to swim, but I was a little hesitant to go to what was considered the Mecca of OWS in Chicago. I like to enjoy the water alone sometimes and go to a little less populated place, but since I wasn’t familiar with the area, this was it and I’m super glad I went! There were all kinds of people, tons of triathletes, open water swimmers, you name it and they were there at 5:30am! The beach is sandy, they have lockers for use (bring your own lock), and you’ll meet someone for sure when you’re there. There’s a little cafe open later in the day right on the beach, there are lifeguards late morning to evening, lots of people, a sheltered portion of the beach and open portion. The waves can get a little rough and visibility minimal, so keep a lookout of weather and currents before you go. For me it was perfect and I made sure to give my lucky purple swim cap and the water thanks for a fun and safe swim!

Ohio Street Beach.jpg


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Morse Reservoir is a fresh water reservoir that has many fingers with private homes, a golf club, and public access beaches.  It is beautiful in the mornings watching the sun rise over the water.  Due to boat traffic, swimmers are encouraged to have a safety kayaker or swim in groups with visibility buoy and swim in the fingers of the lake, hugging the shoreline.  Public lake access is limited, contact local swim clubs or Morse Park and Beach for more information.

Morse Reservoir


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Event – Fresh Water: Potomac River Sharkfest (2012), 3K, Morgantown, Maryland.  While the Potomac River is not known for it’s swimming, there are a few events that take advantage of the beauty of the river.  The Sharkfest series of swims held the Potomac River Sharkfest, starting in Morgantown, Maryland, swimming cross-river at  Gov Harry Nice Memorial Bridge (301) to Dahlgren Wayside Park, Virginia.  The river has dangerous and fast moving flows, experienced kayakers suggested for escort.  Contact local county officials for Potomac River swimming regulations.


State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Event – Fresh Water: Harbor Springs Coastal Crawl (2011 – 2013), 1, 2 & 3 miles, Harbor Springs, Michigan.  Flippers down, this has been my most favorite swim event ever, literally ever!  The Harbor Springs Coastal crawl features cold water swims of various distances in Little Traverse Bay, starting from Zorn Park.  The park is open, friendly, next to a harbor area with lots of beautiful sailboats.  The lake water is fresh, clean and clear with the 3-mile event taking you out of the protection of the bay into the big water of beautiful Lake Michigan.  A local swim team puts on a great meal afterwards, free for swimmers and for purchase for guests.  The BBQ grilled chicken sandwich is a must have after the swim!

Harbor Springs Coastal Crawl


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Lake Tahoe, need I say more?!?! There are so many great places to swim at Lake Tahoe, it is a high elevation lake, and like the Hawaiian Islands, it’s hard to know where to start. For long swimming loops, Nevada Beach is where I always swim. Quite simply, it is a big beach with a beautiful stretch of water. It’s clear as is mostly everywhere and it is perfect for strolling and sunbathing. As you drive up the East side of the lake, which I highly recommend you do, you head up towards Sand Harbor Beach. This beach is really busy, parking is difficult unless you get there ridiculously early, and I didn’t really find it enjoyable with the crowd. However, there are tons of side road beaches that have a short hike down to the shoreline all along the East side. If you see a few cars, likely there is a path to the beach and wherever you go, you probably won’t be disappointed. The shoreline has big rocks at some of these beaches, so getting in can be a little tricky, but worth it for your crystal clear paradise. Some of the more well-known “hidden” beaches include Chimney Beach, Secret Cove, Secret Harbor, and Whale Beach. Some of these are clothing optional beaches as well, so if you don’t want to see some skin, don’t go and if you do, make sure to bring your sunscreen or risk burnt buns. Most major beaches have an entrance fee, so be prepared for that!


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Lake Mead is also worth noting for Nevada. Just outside of Las Vegas and a reservoir, I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but it’s not every day you get to swim in the desert so I thought it was worth a go. It was absolutely beautiful! The water was crystal clear, which again wasn’t something I as expecting for a reservoir, you could see big fish, it was decently warm for a cold water swimmer even in March, and was a cool refreshing contrast after a weekend at Death Valley. There were buoys to mark the course at Boulder Beach, plenty of parking, space to lay out, sun bathe, and the sunset against the colors of the rock was spectacular!


New Hampshire

State swimming favorites coming soon!

New Jersey

State swimming favorites coming soon!

New Mexico

State swimming favorites coming soon!

New York

OWS Event – Fresh/Salt Water: 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, 28.5 mile circumnavigation of Manhattan Island put on and hosted by New York Open Water (NYOW). There is a part of the Hudson on the North end of Manhattan that just opens up like a lake. It is serene and beautiful. New York Open Water puts on several other events during the year starting at 0.75 miles in Lake Minnewaska to twice around Manhattan Island! While the event itself wasn’t my day in the water, New York Open Water is the best there is when it comes to safety and events. Worth it for sure!

Manhattan Island Marathon Swim

Favorite Pool: Asphalt Green in Battery Park, 212 North End Ave, New York, New York. This indoor pool has perfect water temperature for lap swimming and is inside a beautiful recreation facility. I found the club through the US Masters Swimming site and am glad I did! There are two Masters swim practices twice a day (look at their schedule for pool location), once in the morning and a lunch swim. The group is great, welcoming, and the practices vary by theme throughout the week. Great facility, great pool, great people!


North Carolina

State swimming favorites coming soon!

North Dakota

State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Event – Fresh/Salt Water: Portland Bridge Swim, 4 miles, Willamette River, Portland, Oregon.  One of the most beautiful and iconic OWS events in Oregon, the Portland Bridge Swim runs Sellwood Park to Cathedral Park, through the heart of Portland.  The event can be swam as a 10 mile solo swim or 3-person relay.  You get to swim under beautiful bridges and see the city from a unique point-of-view and is a tidal river swim with somewhat brackish water.  Safety kayakers required and definitely an event not to miss!

Portland Bridge Swim


State swimming favorites coming soon!

Rhode Island

State swimming favorites coming soon!

South Carolina

OWS Fun Swim- Salt Water: Swimming at Sullivan’s Island Beach, beginning at Station 28 1/2 and heading South, was a very beautiful and quiet sunrise swim. The tides are very important to consider here, so link up with the Charleston Open Water Swimmers (CHOWS) if you have any questions. At low tide you could beach yourself lol, but there is a beautiful sand bar to walk on at low tide in the distance, which is a benefit. I swam at high tide, the water was okay visibility, and I did see / swim with a (gulp) shark for my first time. The CHOWS folk said that was extremely rare, so I’m not saying it is a bad place to swim at all and I am known for attracting animals…. so you know, up to you. I’d still swim there again!


South Dakota

State swimming favorites coming soon!


Favorite Pool: Ooltewah Swim Center, 6849 Mountain View Road, Ooltewah, Tennessee. The Ooltewah Swim Center pool is a beautiful dome covered pool, which is removable in the summer time. Located just outside Chattanooga, I loved being able to swim in a facility where the natural light of the moon (I swam at 5am) shown through the dome and I can only imagine the beautiful natural light of the day! There are plenty of windows on the dome for ventilation and the temperature is slightly cooler than your standard leisure pool, which is great for working out. Very basic yet great facility with locker rooms, showers, gorgeous pool, great prices, and practices for swimmers and triathletes.


OWS Event – Fresh Water: Swim the Suck, 10-mile downriver swim, Chattanooga, Tennessee.  This was by far the most beautiful course I have swam to-date, beautiful scenery, very well run and organized, wicked current assist (near 3/4 of a mile the day we swam), and mouth-watering stomach-filling taco bar post-swim, beer, and really cool, unique and local finishers prizes.  I cannot say enough about how great and fun of a swim this is, the people, charm, and location of the swim is perfect for marathon swimmers that want to get into longer distances. The water is a warm water swim, 76 degrees the day we went, air temperature beautiful, some debris in the river (sticks and leaves, which is expected), and overall good conditions.  There’s lots to do in Chattanooga to make this a destination or vacation swim, also family friendly.  Great food (BBQ), lots of hiking, local history, aquarium, zoo, and other outdoor activities.  I highly, highly recommend everyone to Swim the Suck!

Tennessee River Gorge


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Dallas didn’t seem to be the ideal place for an OWS, but Lake Grapevine was beautiful! I swam a sunriser with the Mud Puddle Swimmers at Minnow Loop in Oak Grove Park swimming to the island to the Northwest. It was a really beautiful morning, the water temperature was approximately 70F in late June, and nice and calm. There were a few boats out which got a little close for comfort and the reservoir does not have visibility, but there were a good group of swimmers that got in sunrise through about 9am. I’ll definitely be back!



Favorite Pool: Steiner Aquatic Center, 645 Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City, Utah.  This pool is gorgeous, backing to the mountains in beautiful Salt Lake City.  The pool is short/long course, outdoors (not open in winter), and open to the public.  The water gets quite warm in the summertime, but definitely worth it for the tan and the views!


OWS Event – Salt Water: Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim, 10K, Great Salt Lake Marina, Magna, Utah.  A truly unique event, the Great Salt Lake Marathon swim is exactly as it sounds, a swim in the Great Salt Lake for 1 mile and 10K events.  The salt content of the water is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, combined with the buoyancy of the water and the beautiful rock formations make the experience something not to miss.  Depending on the time of year, the beach stench from flies is not enticing nor the brine shrimp that get stuck in your suit, but it is truly the experience of a lifetime!

Great Salt Lake


State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Event – Salt Water: Jack King Ocean Swim, 1 mile, Virginia Beach, Virginia hosted by the Virginia Beach Lifeguard Association (VBLA).  This is one of my favorite events, starting around 24th Street at beautiful Virginia Beach.  There is so much to do in the area, rich in military history, shops, restaurants and activities for singles as well as families.  The beach can be quite crowded in the summer, but the morning sunrise and dolphin pods are something you can’t miss!  This event benefits the local lifeguards and is located on a public beach open for ocean swimming and training.


Favorite Pool: Colman Pool, 8603 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, Washington  This is a great pool, outdoors, short/long course with a water slide, on the coast of the Salish Sea / Puget Sound and a salt water pool!  Colman Pool is open to the public and has great views of the Puget Sound.  It is a great family day pool to visit as you have a walk through the park to get to the pool.

OWS Event – Fresh Water: Mercer Island Open Water Swim, 20K, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Washington.  The Mercer Island swim was an English Channel qualifying swim sanctioned by NOWSA around Mercer Island in Lake Washington.  It was a beautiful swim in fresh water.  The lake features its own currents, wind, and hazards, but a great event for anyone looking to qualify.  There are several public beaches to launch from.  As the lake is popular for water sports, it is not recommended to swim without a safety boat or kayaker.

OWS Fun Swim – Salt Water: Alki Beach, West Seattle, Washington.  Alki Beach is home to the Notorious Alki Swimmers (a sub-group of the Western Washington Open Water Swimmers), who meet every Saturday at 9:30am at the Alki Bathhouse, 2701 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116.  The current varies along with the tide and temperatures range from 46F in the winter to 60F in the summer.  The beach is located on the Puget Sound, part of the Salish Sea and has great shops and restaurants for a post-swim snack.

Puget Sound at Alki Beach

OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: If you visit the Port Angeles area, you have to visit Lake Crescent. With its crystal clear fresh and cool water all year round, there is not a bad place to swim. There’s several entry points so no matter what the weather, you can find a sheltered location at Lake Crescent Lodge, Log Cabin Resort, Fairholme Campground, or East Beach. Make sure to check wind before hand and compare against a map to pick the best spot. Water shoes recommended as it can get rocky and plan a fun hike after the swim like Marymere Falls or the Spruce Railroad Trail, it’s a stunning area!


Check out my Wandering Washington page for more fun salt and fresh water swims around the beautiful State of Washington!

West Virginia

State swimming favorites coming soon!


OWS Event – Fresh Water: Swim-4-Freedom, 8 miles, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  This event is a straightaway swim the length of Lake Geneva from Lake Geneva Public Beach to Gordy’s Boat House, 8 miles.  Lake Geneva Public beach is open to the public and has a swimming area for laps and families.  The lake is a big and open lake extremely popular for boat and water sport activities.  It is not recommended to swim without a support boat or kayaker.  Location is key for this swim and it is worth it to stay on the lake in a motel or rental close to the historic town and beautiful boutique shops.  This event benefits the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Lake Geneva


OWS Fun Swim – Fresh Water: Sloans Lake at Lions Park, 600 S Lions Park Drive, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Where to start… there aren’t many places to swim in Wyoming so when you do, make sure you check rules/regulations with local park officials or city ordinances with local law enforcement. Sloans Lake is in Lions Park and is a pretty murky lake. With my arm outstretched I couldn’t see my fingertips! I wasn’t sure if it was permissible to swim or not because they had a no swimming sign/closed for the season. Should be obvious to normal people, but to swimmers “No Swimming” means many different things. Is it no swimming due to water quality, closed for the season, liability with no lifeguards, or am I going to get fined? After checking with local authorities, who were really nice and welcoming, I found out I could swim and so I did! I swam in circles for my mile and did about three loops of the lake. This was a check the box swim for the state and in the future, I’m sticking with the pool in Cheyenne. It was awesome to show my nephew the joy of open water swimming, have a picnic on the beach, and watch the air base planes fly overhead. Great for family outings, just not for swimming!

Sloans Lake

*** Please note the above is for informational purposes only.  All swimming, pool or open water, should be considered at your own risk.  Never swim alone, always use a visibility buoy, and have a support vessel if it is a larger body of water.  Never swim if you are not comfortable, be aware of natural and man-made hazards in the area, talk to locals and lifeguards prior to entering any body of water.  Be aware of water temperature, local weather and conditions.  Check with city, state, and other local government officials for applicable swimming rules, regulations, and ordinances.  Be safe, be knowledgeable. ***