Swimmer 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. Before you sign up for the Swim, please review these guidelines to make sure you're ready to go on June 22! Proof of qualification must be received by June 14.

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 five years.
  • You can provide documentation that you have completed another long-distance (.9-mile or greater) open water swim in the past five 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 need a pool and/or aquatics director to certify your 1,000-yard swim, contact Danielle Gilmore at the Gleason Family YMCA in Wareham or Sara White at the New Bedford YMCA)

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 near them. This is the recommended participation type for ALL swimmers new to the event. 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 volunteer and vessel. Your kayak escort needs to register online as your kayaker before June 14.
  • Your escort’s vessel meets the specific requirements outlined in the kayaker qualifications below.

We strongly recommend that you practice open water swimming with your kayaker before the day of the Swim. If you truly can not find anyone to kayak for you, a limited number of volunteer kayakers are available, please email us to have your name put on the waiting list. 

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 your own, you can rent one from Osprey Sea and Surf 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.

NOTE: paddleboards are NOT allowed this year due to safety concerns.


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 practice with your swimmer in advance of the event, and decide how your swimmer will recognize you on the water, we recommend brightly colored hats or scarves, balloons are prohibited. Also please review our safety instructions for kayak escorts.

Thank you to our 2024 Swim sponsors!

Cisco Brewing Buzzards Bay Brewing Bee Grateful The Crook Family
Tremblay's Bus Co., LLC Milbury and Company fiber optic logo tag line resized
Vineyard Wind Onset Computer
Open Soul Swimming Sperry Tents Beta text only silver level
AAFCPAs Out Of The Blue Healing Arts