Open Water Events

Congratulations on your upcoming open-water event. Swimmer safety is the primary concern of USMS and the New England LMSC and is the basis for USMS's Open Water Sanction and Safety Guidelines. A USMS sanction signals that your open-water event is adequately insured and adheres to USMS's rigorous safety requirements.

When planning your event and preparing your sanction application, please carefully read the following guidance documents from the USMS Open Water Guide to Operations.

Sanction and Safety Guidelines

Major Changes for 2015

Please also read Articles 203, 204, 301, 302 and 303 of the 2015 USMS Rule Book, a copy of which must be available at your event. The Rule Book can be downloaded, or printed, bound hard copies can be purchased from the USMS national office for $10 each. To order, contact Claudia Woods at 941-556-6281 or via email.

If you choose not to seek a sanction, you may still promote your event to the USMS community by requesting that it be added to the USMS Calendar. Please note, however, that unsanctioned events do not qualify for USMS's insurance protection and cannot be advertised as a NE LMSC or USMS-affiliated event.


Open Water sanction applications must be submitted through the USMS online sanction system. Please have the following documents ready to upload (in Word or PDF format):

  1. An entry form

  2. A safety plan (see Addendum A above)

Click here for instructions on how to submit a sanction request.

Once submitted, the system will notify the NE LMSC Open Water Sanctions Chair, who will conduct the first-line review of your application and contact you if additional information is required. Once approved at the LMSC level, the application goes to the USMS Open Water Compliance Coordinator for final review and assignment of a sanction number.


USMS requires a $1,000 surcharge for each sanctioned open-water event.

The NE LMSC will, at its discretion, subsidize the entire surcharge for events with 20 or more swimmers, including current USMS members and participants who purchase a USMS one-event membership.

The event host is required to submit a $1,000 deposit, which will be returned following the event.

All swimmers in each sanctioned race must be a member of USMS or USA Swimming. USMS one-event memberships are available at $13 each subject to completion of the NE-LMSC one-event application and USMS liability waiver prior to entering the water, which are available by contacting the NE LMSC registrar.

All sanction deposits must be received prior to the processing of the sanction approval. Please write a check for $1,000 payable to "NE LMSC" and mail it to:

Al Prescott
Treasurer, New England LMSC
16 Lake Shore Drive North
Westford, MA 01886

Please direct all open water sanction inquiries to Charlotte Brynn, NE-LMSC Open Water Sanctions Chair.