Safety Overview

The safety of all participants is our highest priority. We work closely with the US Coast Guard, the Marine Patrol, local public safety officials, and regional Emergency Management Agency professionals to ensure your safe crossing.

The paddler is the first line of protection in our very detailed safety plan, helping us to keep track of our swimmers. We count on the paddler to be right alongside his or her swimmer at all times so we know the whereabouts of each swimmer. We have multiple course boats and safety boats patrolling the course and watching each swimmer carefully. We need to know that every paddler has a swimmer associated with him or her. The paddler’s job is to stay in constant touch with his or her swimmer, to provide support and rest as needed, to assess for signs of hypothermia or distress, and to signal for help if needed. The paddler also needs to keep the swimmer on course.

Any swimmer spotted without a paddler will be pulled from the water until the paddler is located.

Swimmers in the water for more than three hours. For safety reasons, swimmers will not be permitted to stay in the water for longer than three hours; swimmers will be pulled from the water if they have not finished within the allotted three-hour time period.

All paddlers must:

  • wear a PFD (personal flotation device)
  • carry a second flotation device (such as an extra PFD) for their swimmer
  • wear a whistle (provided in your gift bag)
  •  wear (on your back) the bib number provided
  • carry a cell

Be aware of the signs of hypothermia: 

  • Shivering (although as hypothermia worsens, shivering stops)

  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination

  • Slurred speech or mumbling

  • Confusion and poor decision-making

  • Drowsiness or very low energy

Be aware of the signs of Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE), a life-threatening condition:

  • Shortness of breath out of proportion with effort being expended

  • Crackles, rattling or ‘junky’ feelings deep in the chest associated with breathing effort – usually progressively worsening with increasing shortness of breath, and may be cause for a panic attack

  • Cough, usually distressing and productive

  • The wetsuit may feel as though it is hindering breathing ability

If you suspect hypothermia or SIPE, signal for help. There will be support boats staffed with medical personnel.

Be able to signal for help:  If assistance is required for any reason, the paddler should raise his or her paddle vertically in the air, wave it from side to side, and give three whistle blasts. If a paddler needs assistance and is unable to signal, the swimmer should take the paddle and perform the signal, or get assistance from another paddler. DO NOT hesitate to ask for help! A safety boat will respond. If you’re in doubt about your swimmer’s health or well-being, signal for help.

Event safety staff may elect to remove any swimmers from the water or relocate them, at their discretion.

PARTICIPANT'S GUIDE: For detailed safety information, see the Participant's Guide. The Participant's Guide will be posted early summer.

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