Scroll for more

Rules and Regulation



OWS 6.1 All Open Water competitions shall be Freestyle events and swimmers are required to complete the whole course, respecting all designated turning buoys and course boundaries. 

OWS 6.2 Race Judges shall instruct any swimmer who is, in their opinion, taking unfair advantage by pacing or slip streaming with the escort craft to move clear


OWS 6.3.1 If in the Opinion of the Chief Referee or Referees, any swimmer, or swimmer’s approved representative, or escort safety craft, takes advantage by committing any violation of the rules or by making intentional contact with any swimmer, the following proceeding shall apply:

1st Infringement:

A yellow flag and a card bearing the swimmer's number shall be raised to indicate and to inform the swimmer that he is in violation of the Rules.

2nd Infringement:

A red flag and a card bearing the swimmer's number shall be raised by the Referee (OWS 3.6) to indicate and to inform the swimmer that he is for the second time in violation of the Rules. The swimmer shall be disqualified. He must leave the water immediately and be placed in an escort craft, and take no further part in the race.

OWS 6.3.2 If in the opinion of a Referee, an action of a swimmer or an escort safety craft, or a swimmer’s approved representative is deemed to be ‘unsporting’ the referee shall disqualify the swimmer concerned immediately.

OWS 6.4 Escort safety craft shall manoeuver so as not to obstruct or place them directly ahead of any swimmer and not take unfair advantage by pacing or slip streaming.

OWS 6.5 Escort safety craft shall attempt to maintain a constant position so as to station the swimmer at, or forward of, the mid-point of the escort safety craft.

OWS 6.6 Standing on the bottom during a race shall not disqualify a swimmer but they may not walk or jump.

OWS 6.7 With the exception of Rule OWS 6.6 above swimmers shall not receive support from any fixed or floating object and shall not intentionally touch or be touched by their escort safety craft or crew therein.

OWS 6.7.1 Rendering assistance by an official medical officer to a swimmer in apparent distress should always supersede official rules of disqualification through “intentional contact” with a swimmer (Rule OWS 3.1).

OWS 6.8 For races where escort boats are used, each escort safety craft shall contain: a Race Judge, a person of the swimmers choice, and the minimum crew required to operate the escort safety craft.

OWS 6.8.1 Each escort safety craft shall display the swimmers competition number so as to be easily seen from either side of the escort safety craft and the national flag of the swimmer’s Federation.

OWS 6.9 Each safety craft shall contain appropriately qualified safety personnel and the minimum crew required to operate the safety craft.

OWS 6.10 No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device which may be an aid to their speed, endurance or buoyancy. Approved swimsuit, goggles, a maximum of two (2) caps, nose clip and earplugs may be used.

OWS 6.11 Swimmers shall be allowed to use grease or other such substances providing these are not, in the opinion of the Referee, excessive.

OWS 6.12 The pacing of a swimmer by another person entering the water is not permitted.

OWS 6.13 Coaching and the giving of instructions by the approved swimmer’s representative on the feeding platform or in the escort safety craft is permitted. No whistle shall be allowed.

OWS 6.14 When taking sustenance swimmers may use Rule OWS 6.6 provided Rule OWS 6.7 is not infringed.

OWS 6.15 No objects can be thrown from the feeding platform to the swimmers, including sustenance. The swimmers shall receive their feeding directly from their representative by a feeding pole or by hand.

OWS 6.16 Feeding poles are not to exceed 5m in length when extended. No objects, rope or wire may hang off the end of feeding poles except national flags. National flags are allowed to be attached to the feeding pole but may not exceed the size of 30cm x 20 cm.

OWS 6.17 In all events, time limits shall apply as follows from the finish time of the first swimmers:

15 minutes per 5km (or part thereof) up to a maximum time limit of 120 minutes.

OWS 6.17.1 Competitors who do not finish the course within the time limit shall be removed from the water except that the Referee may allow a competitor outside the time limit to complete the course but not be eligible for any points or prizes.

OWS 6.18 Emergency Abandonment

OWS 6.18.1 In cases of emergency abandonment of races of 10 km or less, the race will be restarted from the beginning at the earliest possible moment.

OWS 6.18.2 In cases of emergency abandonment for any race longer than 10km, where the race has been underway for at least three (3) hours, the final ranking will be as reported by the Chief Referee. If 3 hours of the race has not been completed, it will be restarted from the beginning at the earliest moment possible.