Swimmer and Kayaker Qualifications

Buzzards Bay Swim qualifications

People of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels participate in the Buzzards Bay Swim each year. To ensure the safety of all participants, we've established the following qualifications for swimmers and kayakers. Before you sign up for the Swim, please review these guidelines to make sure you're ready to go on June 30!

Swimmer Qualifications

Unescorted Swimmers (both Adult and Youth)

Unescorted swimmers swim on their own, without a dedicated kayak escort. Swimmers must be at least 11 years old on the day of the Swim to participate. Unescorted swimmers must meet one of the following requirements:

  • You have successfully completed the Buzzards Bay Swim in the past three years.
  • You can provide documentation that you have completed another long-distance (.9-mile or greater) open water swim in the past three years. (Web results are acceptable; you can email the link to us.)
  • You can provide a letter from a certified swim coach or aquatics director indicating that you have successfully completed a 1,000-yard swim in less than 25 minutes.

If you are in need of a pool and/or aquatics director to certify your 1,000 yard swim, free Qualification Swims will take place at the Wareham YMCA from 6:30-7:30 PM on Tuesday, May 22; Thursday, June 7; Tuesday, June 12; and Thursday, June 14. For more information, please contact Mel Dyer, Senior Program Director. Qualification Swims can also be completed at the New Bedford YMCA by appointment only: to schedule a swim, please contact Sara White, Aquatics Director.

If you are unable to meet at least one of the requirements above, you will need to change your registration type to “Escorted” and find a kayak escort. If you need assistance finding or registering a kayak escort, please email us.

Escorted Swimmers (both Adult and Youth)

Escorted swimmers are accompanied across the course by a dedicated kayaker paddling near them. Escorted swimmers must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You are at least 11 years old on the day of the Swim.
  • You are capable of completing the 1.2 mile course in two hours or less.
  • You provide your own kayak escort. Your kayak escort needs to register online as your kayaker before June 8.
  • Your escort’s kayak meets the specific requirements outlined in the kayaker qualifications below.

We strongly recommend that you practice open water swimming with your kayak escort before the day of the Swim.

Swimmers Under 18

Swimmers under age 18 must have a parent or guardian complete this parental consent form before the day of the Swim to participate.

Kayaker Qualifications

kayak escorts in the Buzzards Bay Swim
Kayakers escort swimmers across the course.

Kayak escorts guide swimmers across the 1.2-mile Buzzards Bay Swim course. Kayak escorts must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You provide your own kayak. (If you don’t have a kayak, you can rent one from Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures in Westport or Nemasket Kayak Center in Wareham. Kayaks are not available at the start line.)
  • You can paddle a 1.2-mile open-water course as fast as the swimmer you are escorting can swim.
  • You are capable of communicating with on-the-water safety personnel.
  • You can stabilize your kayak if your swimmer needs to hang on.
  • Your kayak is seaworthy and equipped with a whistle and two adult U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

On the day of the Swim, all kayaks must pass a safety inspection when they arrive at the start line before your swimmer can receive their cap and timing chip.

Please be sure to review our safety instructions for kayak escorts.

Thank you to our sponsors!

The Buzzards Bay Swim is a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series event, presented nationally by Toyota.