Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club Swim Rules

Overall Swim Rules

  • Members with fewer than 6 months of membership must stay within the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary and may not participate in any Scheduled Clubs Swim that goes beyond 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 (CRIBS).
  • 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.
  • A public day use swimmer must stay within the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.
  • 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.

Early Access to the Expanded Swim Boundary

“Members with fewer than 6 months of membership must stay within the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary and may not participate in any Scheduled Clubs Swim that goes beyond the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.” However, this requirement may be waived by the Swim Commissioner upon completion of one of the following:

  1. The Polar Bear Challenge (swim 40 miles in the bay between December 21 and March 21)
  2. The 100 Mile Challenge (swim 100 miles in the bay between June 1 and October 31)
  3. The Accelerated Out-of-Cove process
The Accelerated Out-of-Cove process is intended for experienced swimmers, and involves completing 8x 1-mile swims within a one-month period. This includes 4x 1-mile solo swims inside the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary, and 4x 1-mile swims with an approved partner. The application form contains further details. Your application must be signed by the Swim Commissioner before you begin your swims, and must again be signed after completion before you are approved to swim beyond the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary. Contact the commission by emailing with any questions.

Scheduled Club Swim Rules

The following rules apply to Scheduled Club Swims. See scheduled swim calendar for a list of such swims.

  • Only members in good standing with club dues current and any swim fees paid may participate in Scheduled Club Swims.
  • Members with fewer than 6 months of membership may not participate in any Scheduled Club Swim that goes outside of the Aquatic Park Cove Swim Boundary.
  • Time limits are imposed and enforced for all swims.
  • No swim aids, including wetsuits, fins, paddles, or other swim aids, are allowed on scheduled Dolphin Club swims.*
  • Swimmers must have current US Masters Swimming (USMS) membership.
  • Swimmers must wear a fluorescent orange Dolphin Swim cap during the swim.
  • Swimmers must attend the swim briefing before the swim and follow the instructions provided by the Swim Commissioners in order to participate.
  • All club boats are reserved for Scheduled Club Swims; non-piloting passengers are prohibited.

The Alcatraz and Golden Gate swims are limited to 90 swimmers, and have the following additional requirements:

  • In-town members must successfully complete 2 qualifying swims 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.

* ADA Swim Aid Policy, adopted by the board Sept 19, 2003. Item 21A: “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.”

Club Swim Tips

  • Signups are posted on about two weeks before the swim date. Please sign up promptly. If you sign up and then find out you can’t swim, email the swim commissioners.
  • 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. Usually you will pay this fee online when signing up for the swim.
  • Orange caps are important! They help us easily identify which swimmers are part of our swim versus other groups. If you need a Dolphin Club cap you can buy one on the morning of the swim for $10.
  • When you check in at the club on the morning of the swim, you’ll get a number written on your arm.
  • After check-in, there will be a briefing for swimmers. In that briefing, we will review the route, safety procedures, and conditions. You must attend the briefing to swim. There will be a roll call at the briefing.
  • The starting point of our swims is usually not the Dolphin Club. Thus, you’ll want to wear something to keep warm on the way there. At the starting point, our cheerful “Clothes Wrangler” volunteers will take your clothes and bring them back to the club. Please be considerate and pack lightly—no backpacks or boots.
  • During the swim, you will be accompanied by club pilots in rowboats, kayaks, SUPs, prone boards, and motorized boats. Safety procedures for interacting with pilots will be reviewed in the swim briefing.
  • When you finish on the club beach, you’ll be handed a numbered popsicle stick (tongue depressor). At the stairs to the beach, give this stick to the timers. The timers will record your arm number, which we match with the roll call to verify that all swimmers are accounted for. Do not take the popsicle stick with you to the showers or locker room!
  • Have fun! We do this to share the joyful experience of swimming together.

Club Resourced Independent Bay Swims (CRIBS)

  • A Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim (aka CRIBS) is a 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 and each member piloting must be qualified for their craft.
  • A Club Resourced Independent Bay Swim requires the submission of an application (PDF, Google Doc template) from the organizing members and approval by the Boat Captain and Swim Commissioner.