Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club Swim Rules

Daily Swim Club Rules

  • Members with fewer than 6 months of membership must stay within the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary. 1
  • Members with fewer than 6 months of membership may not participate in any Scheduled Clubs Swim that goes outside of the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.
  • No member shall swim outside of the Expanded Swim Boundary unless participating in a Scheduled Club Swim or a Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim.
  • Members must actively watch for boat traffic while swimming.
  • Any member who participates in any swim event not sponsored or co-sponsored by the Dolphin Club is prohibited from using any club facilities in connection with their participation in that event, whether before, during or after.
  • A member’s accompanied guest may swim where the hosting member is allowed to swim.2
  • A public day use swimmer must stay within the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.3
  • No “wet” wetsuits or sandy feet are allowed inside the building.

Dolphin Club Swim Boundary

The permissible swim boundaries are expanded for swimmers who have been members for more than six months beyond “in cove” to areas outside of and alongside the Muni Pier extending west to alongside the northern terminus of the last Ft. Mason pier but not into Gas House Cove, and to the east alongside each side of the Breakwater that extends to the north of Pier 45, to and around its eastern terminus known as the Creakers. In no event shall a swimmer approach or come within the vicinity of any shipping channel.

Scheduled Club Swim Rules

  • Only members in good standing with club dues current and swim fees paid may participate in Scheduled Club Swims.
  • Members with fewer than 6 months of membership may not participate in any Scheduled Clubs Swim that goes outside of the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.4
  • Alcatraz and Golden Gate swims are limited to 90 swimmers due to fleet size and pilot ratio, and have the following additional requirements:
    • In-town members must successfully complete 2 qualifying swims5 and pilot or help on 3 swims.
    • Out-of-town members (residing 100+ miles from the club) must have either successfully completed 2 of the last 3 Club Scheduled Alcatraz or Golden Gate swims, or complied with the in-town member qualifications.
    • Once a member has qualified for either of these swims other members who have not yet qualified will be given registration priority for any remaining qualifying swims.
  • Time limits are imposed and enforced for all swims.
  • Most out-of-boundary swims are limited to 49 swimmers by SF Public Health and may be further limited by the Swim Commissioner or Boat Captain.
  • No swim aids, including wetsuits, fins, paddles, or other swim aids, are allowed on scheduled Dolphin Club swims6.
  • All swimmers must be a paid member of the US Masters Swimming (USMS) organization When you become a member of USMS, be sure to select PACIFIC as your  Local Region. In addition, if you are not already affiliated with another Master’s Swim Club, select the Dolphin Club as your Club Name.
  • All Dolphin swimmers must wear a fluorescent orange Dolphin Swim cap during the swim. This helps us easily identify which swimmers are part of our swim and which swimmers are part of a different group. (Yes, there are more swimmers out in the bay than you think!) You can purchase one on the morning of the swim if you bring an extra $5-$10.
  • Some swims have a small extra cost. For example, sometimes we need to hire a boat or a bus to get you to the starting point! Pay attention to the emails from the Swim Commissioner if your swim has any additional fees.
  • The Swim Sign-Up sheet is posted on about two week before the swim date.  Please sign up as soon as you know you want to participate so we can get a feeling for how many pilots we will need. If you sign up and then know you won’t be able to participate after all, email
  • You must check in at the club the morning of the swim to officially register and get your swim number written on your arm. If this is your first Dolphin swim of the year bring:
    • Your USMS Membership Card either printed or in electronic form. (see above for description)
    • Any additional Transportation or Special Event fee
    • $5-$10 to buy a fluorescent orange Dolphin Swim cap if you don’t already own one
  • You must attend the swim briefing before the swim and follow the instructions provided by the Swim Commissioners in order to participate. In the swim briefing, we will do a roll call of all the swimmers names to ensure we know exactly who is on the swim! Also in the swim briefing, we alert you to important information about the expected swim conditions and our lessons learned from the test swim the day before the swim.
  • The starting point of the swim is usually not the Dolphin Club. Thus, you’ll probably want to wear something to keep warm to the starting point, such as a Dolphin Swim Parka. Once at the starting line, our cheerful “Clothes Wrangler” volunteers will ask you to put your clothing and shoes into giant sacks. Our Clothes Wranglers will transport the clothing back to the Dolphin Club so be kind don’t make them carry a bunch of heavy stuff! Your clothes will be waiting for you on tables on the deck.
  • Have fun and enjoy your swim! Be sure you are wearing your fluorescent orange Dolphin Swim cap! If you get cold or tired or have any concerns or questions, signal to a pilot you’d like to talk by raising one or two arms. Tell us what’s going on and what you need. If needed, you can get pulled out into a boat and get re-positioned in the swim or get a ride back to the Dolphin Club. Safety first!
  • As you swim, you will be accompanied by Dolphin Pilots in rowboats, stand up paddle board, kayaks, and motorized water craft. Our swims have a 3:1 swimmer-to-pilot ratio. Our pilot are there to help keep you safe from other boaters and to assist you if you need support. To catch the attention of a pilot, stop swimming and raise your arm in the air! Some pilots may also be able to provide advice on swim headings and currents, but this is knowledge only learned after much experience and thus not all pilots have that knowledge.
  • All club boats are reserved for Scheduled Club Swims; non-piloting passengers are prohibited.
  • Immediately after emerging from the water, you’ll be handed a numbered popsicle stick (tongue depressor)! Then, you’ll be asked to hand your popsicle stick to someone who records the number. This is how we track how many people have returned from the swim. Do not take this popsicle stick to the locker room as we will think someone is still out in the bay.

Club Resourced Independent Bay Swims (CRIBS)

  • A Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim (aka CRIBS) is any non-Scheduled Club Swim that goes outside the Expanded Swim Boundary and uses or involves club facilities or equipment.
  • Non-members may not participate in any capacity.  Each member swimming in a Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim must be qualified to swim in the Expanded Swim Boundary.
  • A Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim requires the submission of an application by the member and approval by the Boat Captain and Swim Commissioner.7
  1. Members may qualify for an accelerated expanded boundary procedure upon completion of the 100-mile swim, the 40-mile Polar Bear Swim, or the Accelerated Out-of-Cove Process; contact the Swim Commissioner.
  2. See the Guest Policy section of the Rulebook for general information regarding guests.
  3. See the Public Access Day Use Program section of the Rulebook for general information regarding day use.
  4. Members may qualify for a Scheduled Club Swim that goes outside the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary upon completion of the 100-mile swim, the 40-mile Polar Bear Swim, or the Accelerated Out-of-Cove Process; contact the Swim Commissioner.
  5. Qualifying swims are those identified with an asterisk* on the annual Swim and Event Schedule.
  6. ADA Swim Aide Policy, adopted by the board Sept 19, 2003. Item 21 A: Recognizing its responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related City and County of San Francisco regulations, as well as its status as a Club member of US Masters Swimmers (USMS), the Dolphin Club commits that members otherwise eligible to participate in the Swim Program who have a recognized and qualified disability shall be permitted to compete with swim aids or prosthetic devices. Members desiring to compete with these aids and/or devices shall submit medical documentation to the President certifying their disability and stating the accommodation needed to compete. The President, with the advice of the Swim Commissioner and the Vice-President, shall determine the appropriate response and, if warranted, the nature of reasonable accommodation to be offered.
  7. For further information and a CRIBS application contact the Swim Commissioner.