Open water swim starts are as varied as the venues where they take place.

From the classic run-in-the-water from the beach to the more unusual jump-off-a-boat, open water swimming has the four general start formats

1. In-the-water start: swimmers begin while treading water in deep water
2. Jump or dive start: swimmers leap (i.e., jump or dive) from a boat, pontoon, pier, jetty or breakwater
3. Running zero-point entry: swimmers run or walk down a sandy beach or from points above the high-tide mark on the shore
4. Stationary zero-point entry: swimmers begin from the ankle-, knee- or waist-level at the shoreline

A zero-point entry is a gradual entry in a body of water for an open water swim. A running zero-point entry is the most common means to start a race or practice and is different from an in-the-water start or a dive from a pier, boat, pontoon, jetty or breakwater. The word is derived from zero-entry swimming pools which are also called beach entry swimming pools. These are swimming pools with an edge or entry that gradually slopes from the deck into the water, becoming deeper with each step, in the manner of a natural beach.

Photo of the Alcatraz Swim above is courtesy of Peg Gerard.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source