top of page


The Rules For Swimmers


1.       SWIMMING ATTIRE: No swimmer shall use or wear any device or swim-suit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy or endurance during an SSO-recorded swim. Included in, but not limited by, this list of aids are fins, flippers, webbed gloves, pull-buoys, kick-boards, feedback devices for timing, heart-rate or blood-pressure.

          Any kind of material (e.g. tape) on the body, that provides muscular or structural-bracing, is not permitted unless approved BEFORE the date of the swim by the Swim Master upon consultation with the SSO Risk Management and/or Medical Officers.

          The swimmer is permitted to wear a bathing suit, up to two bathing caps (Not neoprene or cellular), swimming goggles, and to apply some form of grease to the body before a swim.

          Heavy industrial or axle grease is not recommended as it clogs the pores and does not allow the body to breathe. Vaseline or anhydrous lanolin is recommended. Grease is not used to keep the cold out, but to keep the heat in. It also prevents chafing, particularly on the shoulders and inner thighs. (See "Hypothermia" in Advice.)

          Each swimmer shall wear two SSO-supplied lights for identification in the dark.  One shall be attached to the goggle strap and the other shall be attached to the swim-suit.

2.       No swimmer shall wear a swimming suit that is made of neoprene, rubber, or any other non-porous material designed in any way to contain body heat and/or aid buoyancy and may be subjected to a buoyancy test. The swimsuit shall end at the neck, top of the shoulders, and the crotch – i.e. no sleeves or shorts – no “jammers”.  The bathing cap shall be normally designed swimming headgear.

3.       START:  The swimmer must enter the water from the shore at the departure point, swim across the body of water until there is no further water beyond, and touch the mainland of the opposite shore.

4.      Aspirants are required to confirm with the Swim Master the departure time of the swim at least 12 hours in advance.

5.       MULTIPLE CROSSING:  For a multiple crossing, the swimmer must land as in Rule 3 above. The swimmer must then immediately return to the water and is permitted to stand or sit for up to 10 minutes. During this time, the swimmer must not be touched by any person, but may be handed food, drink, grease, medicants, or swimming apparel to be administered by the swimmer. At the end of the allotted rest period, or sooner if the swimmer wishes to continue, the swimmer, in agreement with the Swim Master, will make the most direct and reasonable way to water deep enough to swim, and recommence swimming. The time spent in shallow water during the rest period shall be included in the total time of the swim.

6.       PHYSICAL CONTACT:  During the swim, no physical contact with the swimmer is allowed by any person. Unintentional touching of the swimmer during feeding and re-greasing of the swimmer while in the water are both allowed, but the swimmer cannot be supported or aided in any way.

7.       During the swim, the swimmer is not allowed to touch or hang on to any part of any of the boats, although unintentional touching or pushing away during feeding or in rough water will not result in disqualification.

8.       DRAFTING:  No drafting (following closer than 2 metres) behind another swimmer or boat will be permitted.  One warning will be given before disqualification, unless the violation is blatant and/or deliberate.

9.       PACING:  One pacer at a time will be permitted with the swimmer.  No pacers allowed before Five Hours have elapsed.  No pacing at night.  Pacers must be 14 years of age or older.  The Swim Master shall have the final say regarding any accompanying swimmers – See Appendix 19.

10.    TIMING:  The Swim Master's ruling will be final, subject to official ratification by Solo Swims of Ontario Inc. The Swim Master shall be in sole charge of timing of the swim and shall be responsible for compliance and interpretation of the rules.

         The timing of the swim shall start from the moment the swimmer enters the water until the swimmer touches the opposite shore.

         The timing shall be recorded to the nearest second.

         A record-breaking swim shall be required to improve upon the previous best time by 60 seconds.

         To ensure the provision of proper timing that will enable ratification of a time as a new record, notification of a potential record-breaking swim MUST be made BEFORE the start of the swim. For the monitoring of such a potential record time, times must be taken by three timekeepers appointed or approved by the Swim Master. 

         Prior to the start of the swim, all watches shall be certified as accurate to the satisfaction of the Swim Master.

         The Swim Master shall instruct the selected Timekeepers as to the Start and Stop conditions for the timing:

  • Timekeepers shall start their watch at the starting signal and shall stop it when the swimmer has completed the course.

  • If requested by the Swim Master, each Timekeeper must present their watch, with its recorded time, for inspection by the Swim Master.

  • The Swim Master has the right to disallow any timing device (s)he believes is out of calibration.

The final Official time shall be determined as follows:

  • If two of the three watches record the same time (to the nearest second), and the third disagrees, then the two identical times shall be the official time.

  • If all three watches disagree, the watch recording the intermediate time shall be the official time.

  • If all three watches disagree, and no individual watch is widely different from the other two, then the watch recording the intermediate time shall be the official time.

  • With only two of the three watches working, the average of the two (rounded-up, if necessary, to a full second) shall be the official time.

  • In the case of any problem with the interpretation of the recorded times, the Swim Master shall record all of the details and report them to the SSO Board for their guidance.

         NOTE: A GPS device can provide precise date- and time-stamping for the start and finish.

11.     DRUGS:  Any swimmer found using any substance banned by the Sports Medicine Council of Canada will be immediately disqualified (see

12.     Alcohol, sedatives, and contraband drugs are NOT permitted to be consumed by anyone on any of the boats at any time during the swim.

13.     AGE:  The swimmer shall be at least 14 years old at the start of the swim.  This requirement also applies to the Trial Swim.

The Rules For Relays

1.  Relays must follow all the rules and procedures that apply to solo swims. This includes the minimum age being 14 years on the date of the swim, no wetsuits or assistive devices allowed, and full medical exams for each participant. The full boat complement is also required, especially 2 inflatables.


2.  In addition, the Trial Swim for ALL Relay swimmers is defined as 1/3 of the distance each swimmer is expected to swim, rounded up to the next whole kilometer.  It is to be completed in the same or similar body of body of water as the proposed relay. All swimmers should complete the trial swim together under the supervision of the Swim Master.

Example: Six swimmers planning a 52 km swim will each expect to swim a total of (52/6) km (i.e. 8.67 km).  One-third of this distance is 2.89 km.  Rounded up, this sets the Trial Swim at 3 km for each of the 6 swimmers in the proposed 52 km relay.


3.  Types of Relays:

3.a.    STANDARD RELAY: Each standard team shall consist of 6 swimmers each swimming for 1 hour. The names and the order of swimming of the 6 persons shall be given to the Swim Master before the actual commencement of the swim. After the first round of swimmers have completed their swims, there shall be NO changes in order or substitutions whatsoever. If a swimmer is unable to swim, the relay shall be disqualified as a standard relay and may complete the relay as a Non-Standard swim.

    Each swimmer shall swim for one hour each time he/she enters the water.

3.b.   NON-STANDARD RELAY: A non-standard relay will be run under the same rules as a standard relay, except for the allowance of the number of persons in the team and the swimming time-interval. Teams can be 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 8 people. Teams will also be allowed the option of choosing how long each swimmer shall swim (minimum 30 minutes). This option must be declared before the start of the crossing and maintained throughout the crossing.


4. In a Relay, the change-over/takeover from one swimmer to the next should take place at the pre-determined time-interval, with the new swimmer entering the water on a signal given by the coach.

    During the take-over, the new swimmer must either swim past or touch the preceding swimmer.

    The previous swimmer must then exit the water as quickly as possible.

    The change-over should take no more than 5 minutes.

    The Swim Master will be documenting these change-overs.


5.   Failure of the team members to rotate in the same predetermined order, or to swim for the pre-determined time-interval will not necessarily involve termination of the relay; however, the relay will not be officially ratified.


6.   Pace-making or the use of a support swimmer is NOT allowed for relays.


7.   SSO strongly recommends the presence of a doctor, nurse or paramedic to monitor each swimmer for hypothermia as the risk of after-drop is higher in repeated swims.



Guidelines For Swim Crew


1.   Wearing of lifejackets is recommended, and is mandatory for non-swimmers, in rough water or upon instruction by the Swim Master

2.   Absolutely NO alcohol, sedatives, or contraband drugs before or during the swim

3.   Absolutely NO night swimming

4.   Do not stand in a moving lifeguard boat

5.   Do not enter the water without the approval of the Swim Master or coach AND the permission of the boat driver

6.   Be very careful when transferring from one boat to another as this is when most injuries occur

7.   Please honour the wishes of the boat owners, and respect their boats and facilities

8.   Do not use the ship radio without permission

9.   No swearing on the walkie-talkies, and keep walkie-talkie use to a minimum as the batteries quickly run down

10.   For the same reason, be diligent with flashlight use

11.   If sleepy, ask to be replaced.

12.   Swim crew members must bring their own necessities. Recommended accessory items include: rain suit, sweater, towel,                 sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, gloves, wool socks, bathing suit, and sea-sickness pills

13.   Respect the decisions of the Swim Master has final authority regarding safety issues.

14.   Be respectful of each boat owner’s property and equipment; use only with permission.



Guidelines for Lifeguard Boat Drivers


1.   Always stay at the side of the swimmer.  Never drive in front of, or be too close behind, the swimmer, or go where gas fumes will   blow on the swimmer

2.   There must be at least one lifeguard-boat beside the swimmer at all times

3.   Motors must be in neutral during feeding and transferring of occupants or equipment from boat-to-boat or water-to-boat

4.   Be careful with the fragile lighting system

5.   You should never be alone on the lake.  During an evacuation, or at the end of a swim, always travel with a big boat or other lifeguard boat.

6.   When rough water requires repositioning the boat next to a swimmer, one boat member must act as a “spotter” and point at the location of the swimmer throughout the manoeuvre.

7.   To prevent injury to other crew members when starting or re-starting the motor, it is the responsibility of the person starting the engine to ensure that the other crew members are well clear of the starting area.

Code of conduct and ethics

Swimming with us: a few words about conduct and ethics

Solo Swims of Ontario has a code of conduct and ethics that we will honour in our work with you, and that we ask you to respect as well. We invite you to look over the full statement (see SSO Administration). A lot of the items there will seem like common sense: treat each other with kindness and respect, and observe the norms of marathon swimming. These swims are long and demanding, and they’ll take a toll on you and your support team (and of course on us). When waves are crashing and both swimmer and crew are exhausted after long hours on the open water, that’s when we all need to remember the things that seemed so obvious back on shore! We’ll do our best to honour these standards under the most demanding conditions, and we ask you and your team to do the same.


bottom of page