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Photo by Phyllis Williams

The Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers (COWS) are a United States Masters Swimming Club.  Though we do not have traditional pool or coaches, we serve as an organization and governing body to promote safety in and open water swimming in Chattanooga, TN. We are supported by Outdoor Chattanooga and as USMS team, our members are insured both in and out of the water at all official COWS swims.  COWS is composed of volunteer board members who serve as advocates for those interested in utilizing the Tennessee River and other local bodies of water for recreation and sport.  The group was born from necessity as the interest in open water swimming, and using the available resources safely, has grown and it is representative of many separate entities in the local athletic and outdoor community.  The COWS have partnered with the Chattanooga Tri Club, to work towards the common goal of both creating and raising awareness for a safe open water swimming environment, as well as to promote opportunities for local swims and competitions.  

The COWS were founded in 2010 as a casual group of swimmer friends and outdoor enthusiasts who were interested in taking advantage of the open water playground provided in their hometown.  Quickly growing in popularity, the COWS partnered with Outdoor Chattanooga to provide organized weekly group swims in the TN River along the downtown Chattanooga waterfront.  

The “season” for weekly COWS group swims usually spans April to October (depending on the weather, water temps, etc.) and kayak escorts are provided for safety through volunteer pilots and the use of Outdoor Chattanooga equipment.  Must be a COWS member.

This season we are also offering the 2015 COWS Swim Series (5 miles swims the second Saturday of every month) for COWS members.

The COWS and Outdoor Chattanooga hosted the 2014 United States Masters Swimming Open Water National Championships event.   The Championships were held on May 17, 2014, in the TN River in downtown Chattanooga. 

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COWSA and the Chattanooga Tri Club are working together on a project to establish a swimmers easement along the North Shore on the downtown Chattanooga water front.  Currently, there is no safe place to swim in the river without a kayak or SUP escort pilot.The downtown Chattanooga waterfront is the site of many large open water swimming events attracting athletes nationwide and internationally including: The United States Masters Swimming Open Water National Championship meet in 2014, Ironman 2014-2019, numerous triathlons, The RiverRat 1 mile and 4 mile open water swimming Race in June, and the Snail Darter One Mile Sprint in October.  The Swim the Suck 10 Miles swim in the TN River Gorge takes place in October.