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The Celebrate the Clean Harbor Open Water Swimming Festival
The Gloucester Harbor 1.2 Mile Swim, 500M Clean Harbor Kids Swim, and the 10 Mile Relay

The CELEBRATE THE CLEAN HARBOR OPEN WATER SWIMMING FESTIVAL will be held  August 11 and 12, 2018. This year, in celebration of 40 years of aqua activism for Goucester Harbor water quality, we are expanding to a two day open water event  sponsored by New England Open Water Swimming Association (NEOWSA), formerly New England Marathon swimming Association (NEMSA).

Starting off  the festival will be the  Clean Harbor Kids Swim on Saturday, a 500 meter swim along the shore of Niles Beach for 8-12 year olds. Held since 2015, this is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the sport of Open Water Swimming.

Also on Saturday will be the 40th Annual 1.2 Mile Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim

For 2018, we are adding a second day to the event, creating the festival. We will be holding the  10 mile Clean Harbor Relay event on Sunday, August 12th. This event will be held on a 1.0 mile course, very similar to Saturday's event.  We suggest teams of 5, and swimming through the rotation two times..  Your team may have more or less than 5 swimmers. We believe the more the merrier. There will be a 6.5 hour limit. This will be a fun atmosphere, so bring a beach chair/blanket, snacks, some sunscreen and shade, and have a great time hanging out on the beach between your swims with your closest swimming friends.  

Scroll down to view your registration options. You can register for one event, or a combination and save. Early bird discounts apply.

A Team Captain must register and pay for the team, and then others can register and join their team. 

Proceeds from the event will go toward supporting two organizations in the local area: Maritime Gloucester and Gloucester Fisheman's Wives Association.

The mission of Maritime Gloucester is to inspire students and visitors to value marine science, maritime heritage and environmental stewardship through hands-on education and experiences.

The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association is a non-profit organization promoting the New England fishing industry, helping to preserve the Atlantic Ocean as a food supply for the world, and assisting active and retired fishermen and their families to live better lives.

We have reason to celebrate this incredible resource that is Gloucester Harbor, and we owe it all to  four Cape Ann residents who, in 1979,  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.

Don't miss this year's event. We have reason to celebrate and what better way than to Jump in. Get Wet. 

Register by Friday at noon (7/27/18) to be guaranteed a t-shirt . 

Online registration closes at noon on Thursday 8/9/2018. 

Looking for something to do between swims on Saturday and Sunday? Swimmers can get $5 off the pre-purchase ticket price of $30 for the Gloucester Blues Festival to be held Saturday at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. Indicate if you wish to attend when you register, and a discounted ticket will be held for you at Will Call. These wil be available to those who register before noon on Wed, August 8th. Click here for Blues Festival information

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

10M - Clean Harbor Relay - Sunday - TEAM MEMBER Closed

A Ten mile relay on a 1.0 mile course ( the length may fluctuate slightly with the tide). there is a 6.5 hour limit. The suggested number of relay team members is 5, but this will be reviewed by the race and safety committee on a team by team basis. Select this option if your team captain has created and paid for your team.

  1. Free
    Feb 21 - Aug 11

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.


The 10 Mile Celebrate the Clean Harbor Relay.

6:30 a.m. Registration/Check in opens

7:15 a.m. Safety Meeting. 

7:30 Start of First leg.

No one will be allowed to start a new leg after 1:20.p.m.

2:00 p.m  Course will be cleared.



Event Schedule

  • August 11 8:00 AM EDT - Lifeguard/kayaker meeting

  • August 11 8:45 AM EDT - Pre-race Safety meeting

  • August 11 8:45 AM EDT - Clean Kids Swim Staging

  • August 11 9:00 AM EDT - Clean Kids Swim Start

  • August 11 9:30 AM EDT - Clean Harbor Swim Start

  • August 12 7:00 AM EDT - 10 Mile Clean Harbor Relay Safety meeting

  • August 12 7:30 AM EDT - 10 Mile Clean Harbor Relay Start

Contact Information

Event Location

Niles Beach, Gloucester, MA, United States

Click here to view map