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The 39th Annual Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim
The Gloucester Harbor 1.2 Mile Swim and 500M Clean Harbor Kids Open Water Swimming Event

In 1979, four Cape Ann residents swam across Gloucester Harbor in protest of its polluted status. This evolved into an annual Audubon Society-sponsored event to help raise funds for cleaning the harbor, hence the name "Swim for a Clean Harbor." When in 1993 the harbor was deemed clean by the Audubon Society, the efforts of these pioneering swim-eco-activists became a cause for celebration and "Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim" was born. An annual summer favorite for swimmers from all over, the 1.2 mile open water event is now sponsored by New England Open Water Swimming Association (NEOWSA), formerly New England Marathon swimming Association (NEMSA).

New since 2015 is the Clean Harbor Kids swim, a 500 meter swim along the shore of Niles Beach for 8-12 year olds. This is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the sport of Open Water Swimming.

In order to promote this event among our young swimmers, we are offering a discount when a parent and child register at the same time. Adults can enter the 1.2 mile swim, while their kids (ages 8-12) can enter the 500 meter swim. Prior to registering, email to receive a parent/child promo code to use when you fill out the registration form.

Register by Sunday night (8/13) to be guaranteed a t-shirt .

Online registration closes at noon on Thursday 8/17/2017.

Registration will be available the day of the event as long as there are spots still open. See below for the event schedule.

Registration fees

Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim Closed

Registration closed
    1. Closed
      Mar 1 – Mar 31
    2. $40.00
      Apr 1 – Jun 15
    3. $50.00
      Jun 16 – Aug 17

Clean Harbor Kids Swim Closed

Registration closed
    1. $25.00
      Mar 1 – Jun 15
    2. $30.00
      Jun 16 – Aug 17

Event Details & Schedule



REGISTRATION(all Events): Begins at 7:30:00 A.M. and closes at 8:45 for kids swim and 9:00A.M. for 1.2 mile swim.


All swimmers must present a positive ID at the time of check in. In the case of a young swimmer without ID, the parent, or responsible adult who will be at the event must present their ID at  time of registration.


This is a World Open Water Swimming Association Sanctioned event. We will be using electronic chip timing for the 1.2 mile swim.


At registration, the swimmer will receive a numbered tongue depressor.  This number should correspond to the race number which will be on your swim cap and marked on your body. The wooden tongue depressor is your ticket to get into the warm up area, and to get into the start area for your event. DO NOT LOSE YOUR TONGUE DEPRESSOR, without it you will not be allowed to warm up or swim your event.


Finger nail/ toe nails must be trimmed below the tip of the fingers/toes, in order to avoid scratching other swimmers in the case of contact during the swim. 


Registration will also include a suit check, a finger nail/toe nail check, and marking with race numbers. 


Suits:  Wetsuits will be allowed


Marking: Each swimmer will have their race numbers marked on both upper arms and on both shoulder blades. 


8:15 - Safety Director will meet with Kayakers/Lifeguards.

8:45 - MANDATORY Meeting for coaches, officials, and swimmers




8:00- 8:45

Event Age Distance

1. 8-12 year old  boys/girls 500 meter

2 .  Open Men/Women 1.2 mile



1. 500 m Event starts: 9:00 A.M. 


The race will consist of a 500m course which will be along the beach and back around green buoys   Shallow water start and shoreline finish. 


2. 1.2 mile: Event start: 9:30 or 10 minutes after the final swimmer finishes the 500 m event.

 The course will be a rectangle, starting in shallow water. The swimmers will swim approximately 0.55 miles out from the beach to a buoy where they will make a 90 degree turn to the left, keeping the buoy on your left. The second leg will be approximately 0.1 miles, and the swimmers will make another 90 degree turn keeping the bouy on their left. The swimmers will then proceed to swim back to Niles beach and finish at the orange buoy at the shore/finish line.


In water start ( knee to waist deep) start and shoreline finish. 



ALL EVENTS will have kayakers lining the course. If a swimmer feels they need assistance, they should raise their hand/arm and a kayaker will come to them.  They may then hold onto the kayak, or the kayaker will give them a flotation device for them to hold. Once they hold on to any device for flotation, they will be disqualified from the race. If they need assistance to return to shore, the kayaker will tow them into the start/finish area. If the situation is medically urgent, the kayaker will signal to the harbor master’s boat to come and extract the swimmer from the water. If deemed necessary by the harbormaster, the race will be stopped in order to allow for a safe extraction.



Event Schedule

  • August 19 8:00 AM EDT - Lifeguard/kayaker meeting

  • August 19 8:45 AM EDT - Pre-race Safety meeting

  • August 19 8:45 AM EDT - Clean Kids Swim Staging

  • August 19 9:00 AM EDT - Clean Kids Swim Start

  • August 19 9:30 AM EDT - Clean Harbor Swim Start

Contact Information

Event Location

Niles Beach, Gloucester, MA, United States

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