Courtesy of USA Swimming and San Luis Obispo Swim Club, San Luis Obispo, California.

Marathon swimming. Ice swimming. Stage swims. Relays. Winter swimming. Channel swimming. Swimming expeditions. Wild swims. Team pursuit races. Sea trekking. Circumnavigation swims. Lifeguard races. Biathlons. Adventure swimming.

Preparation for different types of open water swimming can be done in the pool with POW (Pool Open Water).

The San Luis Obispo Swim Club will host a Pool Open Water event on June 30th at the San Luis Obispo Swim Center.

Head coach Tom Milich explains, “Think of POW as short-track open water swimming. Lane lines are removed from the pool, buoys are placed at each turn and swimmers swim laps around the course in a counter-clockwise direction.

All competitors must have trimmed fingernails and may not wear jewelry of any kind, including watches. At the pre-race meeting, swimmers will be marked with a competitor number on their arm and shoulder and will undergo fingernail, jewelry, and swimwear inspection. Prior to the start of each heat, swimmers will undergo a final inspection.

A race countdown will be a 90-second warning will be given by the race starter to indicate the swimmers in the next heat should enter the
pool and get into position on the starting rope. A 30-second warning will be given. A final countdown will begin at 10 seconds.

The start will be in the water with all swimmers holding the start rope in the water. After the starting signal, the swimmers may let
go of the rope and begin the race.

The race will be conducted in the counter-clockwise direction. Swimmers must follow the course map and must swim around the outside of all turn buoys. Swimmers must completely turn around each turn buoy with their complete body. If their body does not go around a buoy, they are either disqualified or they must go back and go around the buoy. Swimmers must keep all four turn buoys off their left shoulder around each turn buoy.

As the first swimmer starts the last loop, the referee will ring a bell indicating that one loop remains.

The finish is in the water and is determined by the swimmers touching the wall. The order of finish is determined by the referee. After finishing, swimmers must immediately move out of the way and make room for swimmers finishing behind them.

Swimmers can be disqualified for making intentional contact, obstruction or interference with another swimmer. Such unsportsmanlike conduct is judged by the officials who are located at the turn buoys and by the Referee/Starter. A warning can be given by a whistle. At the first rule infraction, the official will show a Yellow Flag/Card to the swimmer. For the second infringement (or the first infraction for certain rules), swimmers are shown a Red Flag/Card and can be asked to immediately leave the pool.

Depending on the number of entries, heats and events may be combined and swum mixed boys and girls all ages combined and scored separately.”

The distances and age groups are as follows:

1 loop for 7–8 year olds (125 meters)
2 loops for 9–10 year olds (250 meters)
4 loops for 11–12 year olds and masters swimmers (500 meters)
6 loops for 13–14 year olds (750 meters)
8 loops for 15 years & over and masters swimmers (1000 meters)

For more information, email or visit

For generic information on POW, visit here.

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