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  • How do I sign up?
    Unlike the pool swims, the Open Water Swims are not space constrained so you can just show up. No need to sign up in advance. As you can imagine, you’ll have to sign a release waiver. In order to speed things up at the Rez, it is recommended (but not required) to do that in advance online. We’ve got a handy form to capture that easily enough and then you’re almost ready to get wet.
  • When are the Open Water Swims?
    Open Water Swims for the 2024 Season will start Thursday, May 30 and run each Tuesday / Thursday for 12 weeks until late August (final date is TBD). Each workout starts at 6:15 AM. Please get there early to allow time to get processed at the entrance gate and at our mandatory check-in table.
  • What's the cost?
    Open water swims at the Res are a weird water beast. BAM “rents” water from the City of Boulder. At the pools this is in the form of lane space by the hour. At the Res, it is literally water access and safety coverage (Lake Patrol). At the Res, this incurs two costs to our swimmers: Reservoir Entrance Fee - Depending on if you qualify as a City of Boulder resident or employee within the city, this will be $10 in most cases, and $12 for non-residents or visitors. This fee covers a pass to the reservoir or any other City of Boulder recreation centers for just the day. There are ways to defray/reduce this cost such as: City punch or monthly passes offer a discounted price depending on how much you visit the recreation centers through the course of that month. Senior discounts such as Renew Active and Silver Sneakers can get our older swimmers either discounted or even free access to the City’s facilities, including the Reservoir. Note that you will need to sign up for this in advance prior to your first swim at one of the city's recreation centers. Low income program discounts BAM Swim Cost - This helps defray BAM's rental costs at the Boulder Reservoir along with the staffing and equipment to put each swim on. A complete list of pass options can be found here. If you purchase an annual, 6-month, monthly or summer pass (Memorial Day - Labor Day) you have unlimited swims at any BAM workout (Res or pool). Discounts are available for BAM passes if you are under 30 or 65+. Remember, you still have to pay the City entrance fee for the Res. To purchase any pass online, you must have a BAM login. If you have Renew Active or Silver&Fit Premium, you may be able to swim for free. To do so, you must have a BAM login, and you must activate this in advance. Please contact the BAM Manager to participate if you qualify. If you do not have a BAM membership, you can purchase an Open Water Drop In onsite for $10, or an Open Water 10-Swim bundle for $70.
  • Do I have to be a BAM member to swim out at the Res?
    No, absolutely not. Most open water swimmers are not BAM members. So, come and make some new friends for a few weeks. BAM member or not, all swimmers must sign our mandatory waiver and have some form of BAM pass (open water drop in, open water 10-swim punch pass, summer pass, etc.) to swim at our open water sessions. BAM welcomes all swimmers of all ability levels and goals so come join us. We hope you’ll stick around into the fall too.
  • I filled out the waiver last year. Do I need to do it again?
    Yes. We need to make sure your emergency information is up to date every year, so we require a new waiver every year. We try to make it easy, so if you have a BAM login your form will be pre-filled, except for your vehicle information. If you filled out the form last year, we will prefill as much of the form as we have on record. In any case, if we prefill the form, please make sure everything is correct before signing the waiver.
  • What is BAM membership and why would I choose it?
    There are actually two levels of BAM membership. First is creating a login to the BAM website. Super easy. Just enter your contact info, sign the general BAM waiver, and confirm your email and password. Once your contact info is in the system you won't have to enter it again. Filling in the Open Water waiver is made even easier, because all that information is already in our system. The second level of BAM membership is any kind of pass. With a BAM login, you will be able to buy your pass online in advance, whether it's an open water drop-in or bundle, a summer pass, or anything else. It will make the check-in process that much simpler and getting in the water that much quicker for you and everybody else if you don't have to deal with paying for a pass onsite. Remember, you can only buy a pass online if you have a BAM login.
  • What might cause a swim to be canceled?
    We have air and water temperature cutoffs which are: Minimum air temp at 6 AM - 45 degrees Minimum water temp at 6 AM - 58 degrees There have also been some water quality cancellations that have occurred over the years. We hope to get the word out as quickly as possible should a swim have to be canceled. Please be aware, we might not find out about it until we arrive on scene as well. So, stay nimble and take a cancellation as a sign that maybe you needed the rest. You can work on that stretching routine you’ve been putting off instead.
  • What is there left to do after signing a release waiver?
    Mandatory registration check in and out, every time you come and swim. Filling out the waiver 1x is good enough. We do need you to say “Hi” at the registration table going in/out. The open water swims are an all volunteer event staffed and put on by BAM members. We’ve arranged with the City to host these swims in a safe manner. Having done this for over 15 years we haven’t lost a swimmer and we don’t want to in 2024. To this end, all swimmers are required to check in at the entrance area and check out of this area. This way we can account for everyone. We like to joke and have a good time at the Res and hope you do too. The one thing we take seriously is the safety aspect of these swims and we need everyone to participate. Otherwise we won’t be allowed to do this. This is also why we ask for your license plate or bike information on the release form. If someone fails to check out there is a full emergency protocol in place to locate that individual as quickly as possible. Frankly, we need to know they are not missing or worst case scenario, at the bottom of the reservoir before leaving the site.
  • How long is the course and isn’t it just the “Stroke and Stride” course?
    Generally, we try to get about 1,000 yards (a little over a half mile) out of the course. The full distance can vary based on water levels at the Res. Late season tends to get a little shorter as the water levels drop. This is also not the “Stroke and Stride” course nor is it any triathlon course (e.g. 70.3 Ironman, Boulder Peak, etc.) The course we set is unique to BAM and designed to be safe and supportive of all swimmers' abilities from first time open water swimmers to the seasoned fish frolicking in their element.
  • What does the course look like and what will its direction be?
    The swim course is shown below. The direction will be clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the day. New parking: There will be limited parking near the start/finish area. Overflow will be in the gravel parking lot south of Reservoir Road called Eagle Boat parking. See image below. No parking in the Coot Boat parking area or on the gravel path between the Sailboat launch and the main parking area. The walk will aid your recovery.
  • What are the swims like? Do I have to go with a group or can I swim on my own?
    Most people swim on their own. BAM has traditionally had guest coaches lead groups around the course before some local triathlons. Inquire when you go out with the volunteers as this will be an emerging event.
  • Do I have to follow the course or can I take off and swim across the reservoir?
    Follow the course. We cannot emphasize this enough. Pictured above is our little swim area. We have lifeguards and safety equipment focused here. Outside of it you are unprotected. Our number one priority is the safety of our swimmers, so no striking off on your own across the reservoir, even if you’ve crossed the English channel or swam from Catalina Island. Course cutting is highly frowned upon. We’d ask you to check with the lifeguard in the vicinity and explain why you’d like to cut the course. If you don’t feel that you can safely make it all the way around that is okay. The guards will be trailing boogie boards that swimmers can utilize to catch their breath. If needed, we will have a guard escort someone across the course. Lastly, you may not want to cut the course but guards may intervene and direct swimmers back to the start/finish area to be properly checked out due to time constraints (everyone out by 7:40 AM) or for other safety reasons. We ask you to not get out anywhere other than the start/finish zone. This is how swimmers get lost and our water swim staff get panicked and our open water chairman, Larry, loses more hair…
  • Will we have the reservoir to ourselves?
    No, The Boulder Community Rowing group will be practicing at the same time as our swims. There have been stories told of crew teams’ oars encountering unaware water fowl. It wasn't pretty. A swimmer's position in the water is just as precarious. We’d hate to have to explain any such encounter with the rowers to your emergency contact person.
  • What about single swims at the reservoir? I’m only in town for a few days and won’t get the value out of a punch pass. Can I still swim?
    Yes, by all means, join us. Note you will still have to pay reservoir admittance and BAM drop-in fee.
  • Do I pay this swim fee at the gate or to BAM?
    Referring back to the weird water beast that reservoir swims are, you will pay the gate admittance and then sign in and pay with the BAM registration team at the water’s edge. The registration team will ensure that your open water swim waiver has been filled out online. If not, they’ll ask you to either do that online there or to fill out a paper form. Then they will inquire about payment. If you have an open water swim bundle or a summer pass or other BAM pass, they’ll note that. If you’d like to purchase an open water pass let them know. We can accept payment at the time there or we can follow up at a subsequent swim.
  • How do I know if a swim is canceled?
    We’ll update this FAQ with the status for the day at the top. We’ll also update the website status if we know in advance. We may get out to the reservoir and learn that it is not possible and we’re working on a way to get the word out. Hopefully we can catch most people before they get in the car and drive all the way out only to learn otherwise.
  • What time should I arrive at the reservoir?
    If you are looking to get the most amount of swimming possible show up at 5:50 or 5:55 AM. This way you can get in quickly. Our goal is to have the guards and everything set up and ready for swimmers to get in the water at or just before 6:15 AM. If you are just getting acclimated to the colder temps and the open water experience you may want to take your time and arrive around 6:45 AM. This allows the air temperature to climb a degree or two and you probably won’t be looking for a full 100 minute workout. The swim runs until 7:40 AM so you will have a good 45 - 50 minutes before we start directing people to exit the water. Remember, an open water swim is different from a pool swim where you can stop on either end after 25 yards or 50 meters. The longer lap and inability to stop on a wall will require some endurance and confidence.
  • Are there showers available when leaving? How about other changing facilities?
    Yes. We're told the locker rooms will be unlocked as of 6 AM. If you find this is not the case, let us know and we’ll get it remedied.
  • What gear or equipment should I use for the open water swim?
    Veteran swimmers treat the open water similar to a pool workout where they may use a buoy, paddles, and/or fins. Beginners may just want to go with the basics of swim goggles and wetsuit depending on the water temperature. Here’s a list of things to consider. Tailor it based on your comfort and experience level: Basics Swim goggles - dark or mirrored work best when staring into the rising sun Wetsuit - sleeved or sleeveless for the early season or for additional buoyancy Sandals or water shoes - the shore line is rocky. The Rez has a different definition of sandy beach Towel - early season the bigger the better as you try to warm up. Later a regular one is fine Small carpet or extra towel - you know those carpet samples you see at the store, these work great to get your shoes off/on or an extra towel to provide a little padding under foot when changing. Sunscreen - not an imperative with the early morning sunshine but can be useful Swim cap - early season it will retain a little heat from your head and make you visible Bag, backpack, or bucket - always nice to keep everything contained when standing around or while in the water. An upside down bucket is a marvelous seat for putting shoes on. A bucket rightside up is an excellent way to transport that sopping wetsuit and damp towel. Sunny outlook - whether it is a bright stunning day or pouring rain this makes it all the better Optional nice to haves: 24 - 32 oz hydroflask or other insulated jug or water bottle with warm water. This is useful to pour into your wetsuit before getting into the water. It will ease the transition and allow your suit to be better positioned 2 plastic bags - you can put these over your feet to ease getting into your wetsuit Body glide - a little lubricant can eliminate some hot spots and chafing, particularly under the arms, back of the neck, and back of the knees. Also good on the calves to help get out of the wetsuit Fins - useful to ensure you’re getting those legs worked out for a lap or two Paddles - if you have a wetsuit you won’t need a buoy, make sure your arms get a full burn. Include buoy if you are going without a wetsuit stud. Swim poncho - enables you to get out of the wet, cold suit discreetly by providing some coverage on top while you do what you need to do underneath. Protein shake - always good to follow up a workout with some good nutrition Hot chocolate or coffee - warm up from the inside. Your core temperature will take some time to return to normal. Give it a little assistance with something warm/hot following a swim. Flowers for the coach on the shore so they feel appreciated too!
  • Should I wear a wetsuit?
    Of course, whether you should wear a wetsuit, and which type, will depend on your budget. These are some general guidelines based on current water temperature, but your preferences may be different based on the air temperature, wind speed, your desire for additional buoyancy, and your own sensitivity to the cold, as well as what you have available. Under 68 degrees: Full suit 65-75 degrees: Shorty suit 72 or above: None or rashguard
  • I’m curious about others that are swimming out at the Rez. Is there a group?
    Thought we’d try something new. Since many swimmers are using a Garmin or other similar device to track their workout, a new group was started called “Boulder Reservoir 2024 Open Water Swims” (link to come). Join the group to see who else is out there and how far they may have gone.
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