Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

America is a very big country, but open water swims are now held in every state from New York to California, Florida to Alaska.

But arguably the toughest waters in the open water are those of the Pacific Northwest which are always cold and frequently turbulent. Winds, fog, rain, marine life, and strong currents add to the obstacles faced by anyone who enters in the open water.

NOWSA or the Northwest Open Water Swimming Association is a relatively new organization that serves to promote interest in open water swimming in the Pacific Northwest waters throughout the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and its adjacent areas.

Led by Andrew Malinak (President) and assisted by Wendy Van De Sompele (Vice President), Jerome Leslie (Treasurer), Melissa Nordquist (Clerk), and Scott Lautman (Chief Safety Officer), NOWSA also provides information and advice to swimmers planning a NOWSA-sanctioned swim.

The officers also promote the safety and welfare of sanctioned swimmers, observe and authenticate NOWSA-sanctioned swims, gather and preserve historical data on NOWSA-sanctioned swims, and promote public access to the shores and waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

NOWSA sanctions 5 different swims to date:

*Strait of Juan de Fuca: crossing between Vancouver Island, British Columbia (north) and Washington, USA (south)
*Bainbridge Island Circumnavigation: circumnavigation around Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA
*Bert Thomas Swim: crossing between Lincoln Park, West Seattle (north) and Old Town Dock, Tacoma, Washington (south)
*Lake Washington Swim: crossing between Kenmore (north) and Renton, Washington (south)
*Amy Hiland Swim: crossing between Bremerton (west) and Alki Beach, West Seattle, Washington (east)

For more information, visit here.

Upper photo shows Andrew Malinak standing near the Bert Thomas Monument at Ediz Hook.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association