Swim Around Charleston

Check in will begin on Saturday, October 5 at 4 p.m with the pre-race meeting to begin at 5 p.m. We will be finished by 6 p.m.

The location is at the Harbor Breeze restaurant located at 176 Patriots Point Blvd, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464.


The race will take place on Sunday, in September/October with a start time to be determined to take advantage of a favorable incoming tide. The swim will begin at Remleys Point in Mt. Pleasant, SC. It will proceed across the Cooper River to the Charleston side, parallel the peninsular city and proceeding north up the Ashley River to the finish point at I-526. There is a Charleston county boat landing serving as the take out spot for swimmers. Transportation will be provided to Remleys Point and returning from the finishing point.

The race start has been calculated for participant safety and to allow as many swimmers the best possible chance of finishing. Very fast swimmers may have to swim through the last of the outgoing tide in the Ashley River. There is a time limit of six hours to complete the event. Swimmers unable to finish in the allotted time will be removed from the water.


Swimmers who must withdraw from the event will forfeit the entire race fee if withdrawing with six (6) weeks or less prior to race day. Swimmers withdrawing prior to the six week mark will receive one half (1/2) of the race fee refunded.

Why is there a six hour limit and can I make it?

The six hour time limit is in place for several reasons.  First, with the calculated race start time, swimmers have a tidal assist for the majority of the swim.  This assist allows good progress and the vast majority of swimmers have no problem completing the course in six hours or less. If race conditions are not ideal, the six hour time limit will be relaxed to allow as many finishers as possible.

Swimmers should be capable of maintaining a pace of at least 30-35 minutes per mile.  With the tidal assist, this pace will allow completion of the event within the six hour limit.  The first two to three miles of this swim are critical and a sufficient pace is necessary to avoid being swept off course and due to the nature of water movement in the harbor, being unable to make a course correction.

We have tremendous safety support for this event and it is very helpful to various agencies to have as firm a finish time as possible for allocation of safety resources throughout the day. In addition, swimmers will be facing a tidal change if taking excessive time to complete the course.

If a swimmer can consistently complete one mile swims in a maximum of 30 minutes or less in a pool, he/she should be able to complete this course in under six hours. 

Ok!  I want to sign up!

Terrific, Charleston is a wonderful place to visit and the swim is a scenic one for at least the first half, then becomes more industrial and boring.  Unfortunately, the nature of the water does not allow the swim the other way around!  (Believe me, I have tried!)

1.  Please register here.

2. As event day becomes closer, please contact Sea Kayak Carolina for any kayak rental or paddler needs. Kathleen will bother you about this as it is very important that all swimmers' plans are known and we have adequate resources.

Is there a sanction or an age limit for the Swim Around Charleston?

No specific age limit, but if you are under 18, you must have written permission from a parent/guardian. 

Can I wear a wetsuit?

No, wetsuits are not allowed.  The SAC conforms to standard open water rules.

- Swimmers may not use flotation aids, propulsion devices, neoprene or any other devices to maintain body heat.Wetsuits, fins, hand paddles, pull buoys or boards are strictly prohibited.

- Pacing, drafting and towing are not allowed.

-Swimmers may not touch the escort boat or kayak during the event. A violation of this rule shall result in disqualification.

- Solo swimmers have kayak escorts only.  Relay swimmers have motorized boats as escorts only.  We strongly prefer that solo swimmers bring someone to paddle for them, it is easy to rent a quality kayak and SAC will assist with that.  If the swimmer cannot provide his/her own paddler, we will assist and the $75. paddler assistance fee will apply.  

- Relay swimmers who live locally are strongly urged to find a local boater to act as support for the day.  For those non-local swimmers, SAC will contract with a local boater to supply a boat and act as your captain for the day.  The $350. boater assistance fee applies.

- Swimmers are required to bring their own food for the swim.

- The use of alcohol or drugs is strictly forbidden.

- In addition swimmers may wear:

- One suit, swim cap, goggles, earplugs and grease will be allowed. For women, suits that cover up to their neck and down to their knees are acceptable.  For men, suits may not cover their torso, nor go below their knees. Neither men nor women may wear suits that cover their shoulders in any way.  All suits must be of the traditional swimming style “lycra” type suits.  All swimmers must wear event swim cap provided.

What type of weather conditions/water temperatures can I expect on race day? 

September is one of Charleston’s most beautiful months. Average daytime highs are in the mid-80’s. Corresponding water temperatures should be approximately 80 degrees as well.  The swim takes place in a harbor and a river but with some ocean conditions so swimmers should expect some chop and potential wind throughout the course.  The SAC date is chosen for optimum tides and unfortunately, a September swim is subject to increased likelihood of hurricane activity, thus event cancellation if conditions in Charleston or offshore mandate a change or cancellation of the event.  Please recognize this as you consider this entering this event.  If there is a weather concern, the U.S. Coast Guard has the final authority as whether the event will take place or not.

Show me the course!


How will I find my stuff after the race?

All swimmers’ belongings will be transported to the finish.  Be sure to label your gear bag clearly.  Remember, check in with your escort craft on race day and give your crew everything that you may need during the swim to keep in the boat or kayak.  Extra gear or food will be difficult to find once out on the course.

Is the pre-race meeting mandatory?

YES.  No meeting, no swim.  This safety meeting is mandatory for all solo swimmers, kayakers, boaters and safety personnel. It is also the opportunity for swimmers to meet their escort kayakers or boaters.  It will be held at the host hotel and last about one hour.  Essential information about the race, its course, safety plan and strategy will be discussed.


Is there a pre-race dinner?

Charleston is known for its superb dining and it would be a waste of good pasta to hold a pre-race dinner when much better dining fare is available.  In addition, Charleston is a wonderful city to explore and well worth an extra day or two if planning to swim the SAC.  We will provide swimmers with some dining options.

What about shipping and recreational boat traffic?

The Coast Guard, in partnership with the Port of Charleston and SAC have established a safety zone for SAC swimmers and escort craft and the start and across the shipping channel.  This zone will be in effect until swimmers are safely across the channel and are well down the Cooper River towards White Point Gardens.  Commercial shipping traffic will stop and all recreational boaters will yield to swimmers.  Throughout the race, lifeguards, course boats, Coast Guard Auxiliary and city of Charleston Police boats will be on hand to monitor the course, slow boat traffic and act as shields for swimmers.


• Swimmers must alternate every 30 minutes (no exceptions). The order of the swimmers must be maintained throughout the swim.

• The transition from one swimmer to the next must be executed by approaching the swimmer in the water from behind, and the transition is considered complete when the entering swimmer fully passes the departing swimmer.

• Relay team members must enter the water feet first. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification.


• All four swimmers must swim an initial leg of 30 minutes and once completed, begin 15 minute legs.  The order of swimmers must be maintained throughout the swim.

• The transition from one swimmer to the next must be executed by approaching the swimmer in the water from behind, and the transition is considered complete when the entering swimmer fully passes the departing swimmer.

• Relay team members must enter the water feet first. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification.


SAC is reliant on the good nature of area boaters and those who choose to volunteer.  It was becoming more difficult to find willing boat captains so in keeping with many other races and solo swims in the marathon swimming world, it was necessary to raise the fees to attract and keep quality boaters.  We are indebted to them for helping out.  Relays were becoming more numerous and again, due to increased costs of hosting the event, it was necessary to raise the relay entry fee.

Swim Around Charleston has joined the Global Swim Series

The Global Swim Series is a way to connect swimmers from other races and give them a fun way to compete against one another.