TAT Open Water Swim Rules

Triathlon and Open Water Swimming (OWS) are growing in popularity.  Therefore, Tulsa Area Triathletes’ open water swim training sessions are being attended by more and more people of varying abilities.

Something I would like you all to keep in mind is that open water swimming is inherently risky and we cannot guarantee your safety.  While we do our best to provide a safe environment  and guidance, you must be aware of your limitations and act accordingly.  Spotters from shore may be you only available help but, even if safety craft are present they may not be able to provide assistance to a swimmer in distress for a myriad of reasons (e.g. currently helping other swimmers in need).  Please be prepared to help your swim buddy and work within your groups to help swimmers you see that may need assistance.

To make it safer, more fun and productive for all– here are THE TAT OWS RULES as agreed upon by the TAT Executive Board.  If pre-swim requirements are not met you will not be allowed to sign in and participate in the TAT OWS.  Failing to comply with swim rules or OWS Coordinator(s) guidance could result in future restriction  to shoreline swimming or possibly exclusion from future TAT OWS.

Rememebr that everyone wants a good workout but most importantly we all want to make it safely out of the water.


Train smart to race fast,


Matt Weaver

2015 TAT President



    1. You must be a current paid TAT member if you are joining us. Be prepared to show your membership card if a spotter or OWS coordinator does not yet know you.
    2. Attend the pre-swim briefing that the OWS coordinators / spotters will hold on shore.
    3. Spotters and OWS coordinators are volunteering their time to help keep you safe, follow their directions and be courteous
    4. Be prepared to take turns spotting from shore or manning support watercraft in the water as directed by the OWS Coordinator(s)
    5. We may not always have support watercraft at each OWS.
    6. Do not start swimming before the pre-swim brief and signing in.
    7. The OWS will be conducted with beginner swimmers swimming closer to shore, BY GROUP. The more experienced swimmers will swim AS A GROUP as they make way across larger parts of the body of water. If possible you will be paired up with a swimmer of similar pace and work out plan.
    8. Swimmers will swim within their abilities. It is perfectly fine to practice OWS techniques very close to shore. Save your big yardage days for the pool if you are not ready to swim in a large open body of water. We will be glad to give you some pointers.
    9. Swim in the prescribed swim area(s) as determined by the OWS coordinator(s)  at the  pre-swim brief
    10. You must sign in at each OWS session; providing your name, cap color, estimated work out plan, and emergency contact information.
    11. OWS may be cancelled or postponed if storms come in.
      1. Listen for signals (whistles, flagging etc.) from spotters, or from support watercraft.
      2. Listen for thunder.
      3. Watch the sky / weather.
      4. Swim to closest shore at once if you hear thunder, or if you are asked to by spotters or OWS coordinators.



    2. OWS Coordinator(s) will designate the number of allowed swimmers at the time of the pre-swim brief based on the number of swimmers.  An ideal ratio would be 1 spotter per 5 swimmers depending on water conditions and swimmers’ abilities.
    3. Swim ONLY in the designated swim area as determined by the spotters, the OWS coordinators and group consensus.
      1. Avoid swimming into areas that have a lot of glare.
      2. Do not swim beyond your ability.
      3. You may be asked to swim closer to shore
      4. Be vigilant about sighting so as to avoid collisions with other swimmers, to check for boat traffic, and to prevent swimming beyond designated safe swim areas.
    4. BE VISIBLE TO EACH OTHER, to spotters and to boaters:
      1. Wear a bright swim cap that contrasts the water, sun glare, etc. If you are using a suitable float that is visible to spotters and do not wear a cap (or remove it during the session) let the spotters know!  We prefer you wear a swim cap however. There are Lycra caps that aren’t as hot to wear in warm water.
      2. Consider swimming with a SAFER SWIM FLOAT or a suitable alternative that increases your visibility and provides you with a resting float in case you get in trouble. Safe Swimmer  is great because it increases visibility, functions as a dry bag to hold keys, wallet and other valuables (not primarily designed as a personal flotation device) .  Swim Safe Belt—TAT owns two of them for lending out during training or racing. If you deploy them we ask that you re-pack them and replace the CO2 canister. These are brought to each OWS and their primary design is as a personal flotation device.
      3. It is suggested that you swim with a non-ball whistle that can be affixed to the belt of the float or to your swim suit. Use the whistle to signal others.
      4. Be familiar with what a boat propeller sounds like underwater and visually check regularly for boat traffic.
    5. DO NOT SOCIALIZE  EXCESSIVELY IN THE WATER. Get your workout done and let someone else get a chance to swim. If you are taking a break in the water (standing around in the water) before repeating a lap or loop, DO NOT go back out alone—wait for your buddy or for your group.
    6. Do not rely on your wetsuit to save you in an emergency.
    7. Spotters will have a fully charged cell phone readily available.


  1. Check out with the OWS coordinator or spotter before leaving the session.