UPDATE: This event has been postponed to Sept. 19 due to river conditions.
“The safety of swimmers is our top priority,” said Miriam Wise, associate director of Adventure Crew, which organizes the event. “In advance of the Swim, we evaluate river stage, velocity, presence of debris, algae, bacteria and ambient weather. If river conditions do not meet our safety standards, we postpone the event.”
Ever dreamed of swimming in the Ohio River but been too afraid of boat traffic — or a roaming Loveland Frogman — to take the plunge?
This weekend, the Great Ohio River Swim is closing the body of water to motorized traffic and inviting some 200 intrepid water-lovers to hop in.
A half-mile swim will take place at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 29, with entry at the Public Landing downtown and a course that goes to the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and back. This year, there's also an option for "double dippers," says a release, where people can swim 2.5 miles along the shoreline before tagging in on the traditional 900-meter bank-to-bank crossing (their launch is before the main swim).
Technically called the Bill Keating, Jr., Great Ohio River Swim (named for a supporter who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2017), this is the first time the open-water swim will happen in three years. The 2020 swim was canceled due to concerns around the coronavirus, the 2019 swim was called off due to a harmful algal bloom in the river, and in 2018 there was high water and unsafe river conditions.
The swim is not only a chance for aquatic adventurers to take to the waters of the Ohio, it's also a fundraiser to help city teenagers from Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky schools experience nature through the nonprofit Adventure Crew.
Since last year's fundraising event couldn't happen on a massive scale, Bill Keating Jr.'s daughter, Caroline, took her own personal swim to help raise funds and offset some of the loss for the nonprofit.
“We added this new (2.5-mile swim) after so many people expressed interest in Caroline Keating’s 5K on the Ohio River last year,” says Miriam Wise, Adventure Crew’s associate director, in a release. “It’s a great opportunity for strong swimmers looking to complete an open water challenge while also making a positive impact on the lives of local teens.”
Those who want to do the "double dipper" course are asked to raise $500 for Adventure Crew’s Swim Training Program (email [email protected] for details and to participate).
“Swimming is an important life skill, and a lifesaving one, too,” Wise says. “While there are great swim traditions in our city, there is limited access to instruction in the communities Adventure Crew serves. The Bill Keating, Jr. Great Ohio River Swim raises critical funds to help broaden that access to all.”
Day-of registration opens at 7 a.m. and includes a mandatory open-water safety course at 8 a.m. You can also register at greatohioriverswim.com.
Adventure Crew says in the event of rough water or other concerns, the Great Ohio River Swim will be rescheduled for Sept. 19.
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