What is the “Clifton Cold Water Mile”?

This is the “Granddaddy” of OpenwaterSwim. Traditionally a New Year’s Day tradition for the lifesavers to complete before going on duty on the 1st day of the year it spawned the 1st Sunday Of Month Swim in 2006. These days its start time has been shifted to midday for both spectator and participant benefit.

What is 1SOMS/3SOMS?

These phrases describe different swim events. Within a single acronym the relative date and direction of swim are provided. Acronyms are part of today’s life…shortening a phrase can speed up communication and with frequent use replace the phrase.

 1SOMS= 1st Sunday of Month Swim

 3SOMS= 3rd Sunday of Month Swim

What is CORE?

This is a type of water race, it’s your opportunity to race under controlled conditions along a set route. Spectator friendly with low levels of complexity bring out the racers in each of the participants. Floating trophies and medals are up for grabs. C.O.R.E.= Clifton Openwater Race Experience


Everyone is familiar of the parable of the Tortoise and the Hare… this is the sequel. In order to concertina the field and thereby increase the excitement at the end of the swim (and safety throughout the swim) swimmers are set off in two groups. Swimmers self-seed with typical >02:00/100m = Hare and < 02:00/100m = Hound. If the swimmer correctly determines which group to start with they are allotted a bonus point on the leaderboard.

How can I register?

This either ONLINE (preferred) or on paper. Race numbers are allocated ONCE to enable results to be easily recorded and tracked over time.

I swam 1SOMS/3SOMS/CORE/New Year’s Day ages ago…Do I need to re-Register?

No! More often than not I have your details already.

Admittedly I might have spelt your surname or first name wrong or even transposed your surname and first name. Gremlins do happen but I try my best.

How do I dress when I come down for a swim?

Try bring down as little as you need. There is a bag drop at each of the races but simpler is better. Please don’t dress for Antarctic before a swim rather have the spare towel and extra jersey available for after the swim.

What is “openwater swimming”?

Definitions differ but most refer to swimming in an expanse of water where there are no walls, no lines, no floor. Typically oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and dams are utilised. The variables are dynamic so one needs to be aware of conditions changing and factors such as wind, wave, swell and currents.

How do I prepare for an openwater swim?

My varsity lecturer referred to “P5” (and in cruder circles P6) – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Start with getting your technique correct in an environment with a low number of dynamic variables. After you have learnt technique and able to complete 1.5x the distance you intend to swim in openwater it is time to venture out. Again P5! Find a swim-buddy/mentor who can pass over a wealth of accumulated knowledge.

No matter where you find yourself around the world ensure that before you enter the water you have a Plan B and a Plan C. If these back-up plans are not viable there is no good reason to go for a social/competitive swim. Mother Nature does not get tired and you are not likely to win the argument with her. Swallow your pride and come back another day.

Can I wear a wetsuit?

Sure thing. Just be aware that you will be categorised with other wetsuits.

Can I wear fins?

Sure thing. But bear in mind that you are not eligible for podium placings. Participation is key.

Can I wear a safety buoy?

If the reason you are using one is the inability to spend time on technique I would suggest you not participate at this stage. If it is to ensure high-visibility for boats and motorised craft I would definitely support the usage. Clear the usage of any accessories other than goggles and wetsuit with the organiser at the swim briefing…

What is FAIR PLAY?

Treating others the way you would like to be treated is Fair Play. Unsportsmanlike conduct is not appreciated and should you not rectify repeated behaviour you may be DQ’d or asked not to return.

What do I need to do on the beach?

Sign-in at the admin desk. This provides a headcount of participants. We are passionate in seeing that all sign-ins are accounted for at the end of the swim.

Is your Series Swimcap fitting correctly. It also displays your race number.

Please do not put sunscreen on the back of your hands as we write your race-number here. Sunscreen breaks the marker pen.

Acclimatise to the water temp. It is much better to acclimatise to the water before the start of the swim. You do this by walking around in the shallows, splashing yourself and others. Next time you enter the water it will not be as big a shock.

Attend the race briefing- the route will be confirmed at this stage.

High-5 the headcount controllers – we do a count of swimmers who are lining up for the swim. This count should agree with the sign-in count. Please tell the admin desk if you opt to Not Start (DNS).

What do I need to do after I finish the swim?

As you finish the swim you will be given a sequenced finish tag. Please take this tag to the admin/recording desk. It is what we use to align the swim-times with you. We also use this as a count of swimmers that have returned.

What happens if I abandon/opt-out of the swim?

No worries – there is a swim next month. Report to the admin desk so your race number and name can be taken and we can reconcile the headcount of participants finished vs participants started.