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Great Ohio River Swim coming up September 23, swim from Serpentine Wall to KY and back

The Bill Keating, Jr. Great Ohio River Swim is fast approaching. The big splash happens on September 23, starting at the Serpentine Wall for the only open water swim on the Ohio River to cross the river and back. 

Start at the Serpentine Wall and swim across the Ohio River to Kentucky.  Once you have reached Kentucky come back across the Ohio River to Public Landing in the heart of Cincinnati.

When Great Ohio River swim started in 2007, Bill Keating Jr. was one of the first to sign up. The first year of the swim Bill won the male swim but lost the overall title to his daughter, Caroline. Three of his kids and his father swam across the river with Bill over the years. Bill was a big supporter of the swim and throughout the years talked others in joining him the swim across the river. In March of 2017, Bill lost his battle with brain cancer and now the river swim is dedicated to him.

Proceeds from the swim benefit the Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati and its mission to get more urban teams out into nature.

New for 2018 is the Next Gen Swim, a 100m swim for kids under 14 along the Serpentine Wall, not across the Ohio. Parental consent is required.


September 23

6:30 a.m. New Registration and Packet Pickup for pre-registrants. At the boat ramp at the Public Landing.

7:30 a.m. Open Water Swim Clinic with former winner Caroline Keating

Nervous about swimming in open water? Never done an open water swim before? Open Water Swim Clinic will last approximately 30 minutes. Topics to be covered will include open water freestyle stroke, sighting, drafting, currents, start and finish, lifeguards and strategy. You do not have to participate in the Great Ohio River Swim to attend the Open Water Swim Clinic. The Swim Clinic will be at Registration at Public Landing.

7:45 a.m. Registration and check-in closes

8 a.m. Mandatory Participant Meeting at the upstream end of the Serpentine wall

Expect mild temperatures, a nice, calm river, and warm water. A perfect end of season open water swim!

The course starts at the upstream end of the Serpentine Wall, swims directly across the Ohio River to Kentucky and then angles back to finish at Public Landing. The distance is just under 900 meters.

The Ohio River will be closed to barge and power boat traffic. The swim will be timed. Awards will be given to the winners by class.

The water quality of the Ohio River is generally quite good, with water quality only falling after a severe storm. The water is tested three times the week before the swim. For information on water quality click here.

8:15 a.m. START! at the upstream end of the Serpentine wall. Begins in waves.

FINISH: Boat ramp at Public Landing

Virtual Swim – Can’t make it to the river this year? Donate to the cause and receive a Swim shirt via mail. Your $40 Virtual Swim donation can be made through the registration link.

Register here.


Plans can change but, unfortunately, no refunds or transfers will be made for any reason.

Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, the race organizer, reserves the right to postpone, cancel or change the race or race format at any time to ensure athlete safety. If Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati determines conditions that might compromise the safety of participants, Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, in its sole judgment, may cancel, postpone, or change the race and/or race format.

OAC serves students in 24 urban high schools throughout Greater Cincinnati, providing teens with no-cost activities like kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming, and more!

Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati

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