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Step by Step Guide: An Overview

Plan Your Swim


1. Register your swim

A. Submit your registration form (including the liability waiver and medical questionnaire. See Forms for relays). 

   i. Pick a route (see Routes).

   ii. Pick a date.

      - Swimmers planning to finish in Toronto Harbour are advised that Toronto Port is closed during the first weekend in August for              the Caribana festival, the September Labour Day weekend for the air show, and other special events. 

      -  Best Lake Ontario temperatures are last week of July through second week of September. 

      - You may specify a multi-day weather window and a back-up date. 

   iii. Provide the name of your coach. (See Crew for the definition of a coach). Having a coach on your swim is mandatory.

B. Pay the Registration Fee (see Fees).

C. Sign the code of conduct.

D. Have your doctor complete their evaluation (also included in the registration form).  


Registration is done on a first-come first-served basis. The deadline is April 30.

2.  Confirmation of Registration

When the registration is completed satisfactorily, SSO will confirm acceptance of your registration, will reserve your date, and will assign you a Swim Master when one is available. 

   Notes: - SSO cannot confirm a back-up date but will do all they can facilitate it.

  - SSO reserves the right to interview an applicant before approving a Registration, especially swimmers under the age of 18 years.

  - SSO reserves the right to refuse to accept an application and to deny sanctioning of a swim for any reason related to safety of               swimmer or crew.


3.  Boats

Hire a professional captain or start looking for volunteer captains and boats (See Equipment). 


4.  Medical

Have a medical check-up and submit the Medical Form (see Forms) in the calendar year of your swim and at least 2 weeks before your trial swim (see medical form).

SSO has a "CorTemp" monitoring system that involves swallowing a radio pill that transmits a swimmer's core temperature. This is to monitor for hypothermia. This is completely optional but requires signing consent in advance.

5. Pre-Trial-Swim Training Log

Submit your Pre-Trial-Swim Training Log (see Forms) to your Swim Master at least a week before the trial swim.


6. Trial Swim

Complete the Trial Swim not less than 2 weeks before the big swim (see Trial Swim).


7. Boat and Crew Confirmation

Submit a Boat Confirmation Form and the Crew Confirmation Form at least 2 weeks before the big swim (see Forms).

Note: A back-up date helps with crew and boat planning in the case of cancellation of the original date. 

8. Pre-Swim Planning Meeting

The Swim Master will ask you to organize a pre-swim planning meeting with your captains and crew. The agenda includes: safety procedures (such as weather conditions, course, and emergency evacuation), overview of the Swim Plan, navigation strategy, communications, equipment and answering questions.

9. Toronto Port

Swimmers planning to finish in the Toronto Harbour should contact the Harbour Master, Michael Riehl, at the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) after May 1st to obtain the TPA forms to obtain permission to swim in their waters.  The swimmer must FAX those completed forms to the TPA 1-2 months in advance of the requested Swim Date. Please submit a swim window of several weeks to prevent having to resubmit this paperwork. Please ask your Swim Master to help you with these complicated forms.

10.  Other Pertinent Information 

Swims that start or end in the United States require permission from both Canadian and U.S. customs and immigration departments in advance. Everyone on board must bring their passport.


If the captain has not already done so, it is advisable to obtain permission in advance for the use of facilities of the yacht clubs at the start and finish of the swim.

If the swimmer intends to hold an event at the finish in one of the Toronto Parks (including Marilyn Bell Park), and application has to be filed with Toronto Parks.


There is a “dead zone” for cell phone reception of about 20 km in the middle of Lake Ontario. In an emergency, a swimmer's contact on land can telephone to an accompanying boat by dialing zero and then asking for the marine operator. State the name of the boat, the person to speak to, and the approximate location of the boat on the lake. This is an expensive call.

At the end of the swim, the Swim Master may call an ambulance to check out the medical condition of the swimmer, if he/she thinks there are concerns. The swimmer may be billed. 


SSO provides a certificate to all successful swimmers within three months of ratification of the swim.  For successful swims to or from Toronto, the swimmer's name will be added to the SSO Plaque located at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In summary, there are many factors that have to come together for a swim to start on a particular day. This includes: availability of accompanying boats, availability of crew, availability of the Swim Master, low risk of thunderstorm/lightning activity, lack of heavy rains or winds up to 48 hours before the swim, no heavy winds forecast for the swim period, and sufficiently warm water temperatures.

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