Photo by Phyllis Williams
The Chattanooga Open Water Swimming Association (COWSA) is an organization and governing body for open water swimming in Chattanooga, TN. COWSA 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 Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers (COWS) have partnered with the Chattanooga River Rats, a local masters swim team, and 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.
We are currently working towards acquiring membership to the World Open Water Swimming Association. The Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers (COWS) provide organized weekly group swims in the TN River along the downtown Chattanooga waterfront. Kayak escorts are provided for safety through volunteer pilots and the use of Outdoor Chattanooga equipment. The COWS and Outdoor Chattanooga host two open water races: Swim the Suck, a 10-mile swim through the TN River Gorge, and the Snail Darter 1 Mile Sprint in downtown Chattanooga, both held in October.
Beginning in spring 2014, COWSA plans to offer a marathon solo swim in the TN River. The name of the marathon swim will be “COWS Marathon” and the services provided by COWSA for this swim will include selecting a date, planning the route, and supplying a power boat pilot and/or kayak support.
Together the COWS, Outdoor Chattanooga, the Chattanooga River Rats USMS team, and the Y-MCA Chattanooga Masters Swim Club, will host the 2014 United States Masters Swimming Open Water National Championships event. The Championships will be held on May 17, 2014, and will be a 2.4 mile swim in the TN River in downtown Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga River Rats USMS team hosts an annual local open water downstream race called the "Rat Race". There is both a 4.5 mile and 1.2 mile race each year. The Race will be held June 2014.