About OWC



** Open water swimming in Lake Michigan is an inherently risky activity **

Swimming in Lake Michigan can be dangerous, exposing participants to many risks and hazards, some of which are inherent in the very nature of the sport itself, others which result from human error and negligence on the part of the persons involved.

In order to participate in any of our swim meetups you will need to complete a swim waiver to verify that you understand and agree to the following conditions:

1) You are a legal adult (18 years of age or older). OWC is an activity limited to adults only – no minors are allowed in the water or around the swim site during our meetups.

2) You fully recognize and accept the risks and potential dangers to which you may be exposed by engaging in this type of activity. These include – but are not limited to – drowning, hypothermia, serious personal injury, or even damage or loss to personal property.

3) You fully understand and take on yourself all of these risks and accept complete responsibility for any outcomes.

4) You have adequately trained and prepared yourself for each swim and are able to effectively manage the dynamic and uncertain conditions inherent in outdoor swimming.

Bottom line – please know your own limits, have a healthy respect for the forces of nature, and make your swim a safe and enjoyable experience for you and for everyone else.


Open Water Chicago

Open Water Chicago™  is a physical and virtual community of outdoor swimming, fitness, and endurance sports enthusiasts.  Here in Chicago, we are known as the “Lake Monsters.”

Founded in 2007 by Steve Hernan, our mission is to provide you with the best information and opportunities you need to optimize your fitness and to fully experience the joy and adventure of being in the elements.

Our Swim Meetups

We meet semi-regularly on the weekends – Saturday or Sunday morning at sunrise – out at Ladder 1 (L1), the bright orange safety ladder located right off of the Chess Pavilion south of the North Avenue Beach boathouse.


How to Get Involved

New to OWC or to this page? Here are the basics on how you can get involved with the group:

1) Sign the swim waiver or you don’t swim with OWC. Period.

2) You must be 18 or older to participate in our meetups.

3) There are no lockers at the L1 swim site. Please plan accordingly.

4) If there is an OWC meetup on the weekend, I will post the details on the OWC Facebook page and on the OWC website by Friday. If it’s not posted by that time, then assume there is no meetup.

5) If there is no scheduled OWC meetup, you can always go to Ohio Street Beach during the summer months. It’s the official open water swim venue in Chicago, and all the local training groups congregate there.

6) Support OWC – Unlike the rapacious multisports industrial complex, we don’t charge you anything to swim with us. So click here to donate to us!