Kayakers and swimmers in english bay

Around The Bay Challenge

Race Date: August 10, 2024

Location: Locarno Beach, Vancouver BC

Distances: 10 km

We are excited to announce the opening of registration for the 2024 Around the Bay Challenge!  This year’s race will continue to keep the spirit of the Bay Challenge alive with a marathon distance route, scenic views of Vancouver, and an accomplishment worth bragging about.



Cost is $275

The tidal activity in English Bay can significantly push a swimmer off course in this race which means you will swim a greater distance than 10km.

This is a wetsuit optional race. Ocean temperatures may range from 14°C-22°C (57°F – 72°F) throughout the swim course. Wetsuits and neoprene swim caps are strongly recommended for cold-water swimming. All swimmers must wear a Safety Tow Buoy (STB) during their swim. STBs are defined as inflatable buoys tethered to the waist of the swimmer.

Prior to registration, interested swimmers must submit witnessed proof of swimming ability and pace. You must complete either a 6350m (at minimum) swim in 2 hours in a pool (1:53/100m), or complete 5600m in 2 hours in open water (2:09/100m), or proof of completion of a similar event or solo swim. 

The pool swim must be without a wetsuit and the open water swim can be with or without a wetsuit. If you are submitting a pool swim as a pace qualifier, you must also show evidence of some previous open water swimming, preferably in the ocean.

This swimming must be within the last 18 months. GPS watch tracking may only be used to supplement your submission.

For race day, swimmers are required to arrange their own paddler to support them during their swim. All paddlers must have a minimum Paddle Canada Level 1 Certification or proof of experience. Paddlers must be able to complete a solo re-entry into the kayak. All paddlers will be screened by VOWSA. 

If you have difficulties finding a paddler, please let the race directors know. VOWSA has a very limited number of paddlers available to help.

For questions or to submit your registration requirements for the race, please email bayrace@vowsa.bc.ca

The Course

Around The Bay Challenge will start and finish at Locarno Beach. There are three legs to this counter-clockwise 10km swim:

  1. Locarno Beach to Kitsilano Beach 3.6 km
  2. Kitsilano Beach to Ferguson Point 2.3 km
  3. Ferguson Point to Locarno Beach 4.1 km


The Schedule

Mandatory Pre-race briefing:

All swimmers and kayakers must attend the pre-race briefing on August 9th, 2024 (the evening before the race).  The briefing will be held at Odd Fellows Hall (1443 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver).

  • 5-6:30pm (August 9th)

Race day check in:

  • 7 am – Check-in begins
  • 7:45 am – Check-in closes

Kayaks at Locarno start buoy: 

  • 8 am 

Race start time:

  • 8:15 am

The cut-off

Swimmers must be within 500m of Ferguson Point buoy no later than 10:45am. The race has a 4 hour and 15 minute time limit. Swimmers MUST complete their swim no later than 12:45pm. If swimmers have not met either of these cut offs, a spotter boat will pick the swimmer up and bring them to Locarno. The kayaker must return to Locarno as well. 

Swimmers who do not follow the direction of the lifeguards, medical advisors or race directors, with respect to this policy, will be disqualified and picked up by a spotter boat. VOWSA also reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to remove any swimmer and kayaker from the race who appears incompetent, in medical distress, or acting in an unsafe manner.

Weather and Water Quality

VOWSA reserves the right to reschedule or cancel events if water conditions are unsafe. VOWSA reserves the right to refuse entry based on safety or health concerns or previous violations of official rules.

The following links can give an idea of typical weather and water quality:

The Swim Guide

Vancouver Coastal Health

The Weather Network