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.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 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.4
  • 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 swims6.
  • 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. 
  • Alcatraz and Golden Gate swims are limited to 90 swimmers, 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.

Club Swim Tips

  • 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 and which swimmers are part of a different group. (There can be more swimmers out in the bay than you think!) If you need a Dolphin Club cap you can buy one on the morning of the swim for $10.
  • The signup is posted on groups.io about two weeks 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 find out you can’t swim, email the swim commissioners so we know.
  • When you check in at the club on the morning of the swim, you’ll get a number written on your arm.
  • After you’re checked in, there will be a briefing for swimmers. In that briefing, we will review the route, safety procedures, conditions, and any lessons learned from the test swim the day before. You must attend the briefing to swim, and there will be a roll call to make sure we know who is swimming. 
  • 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.
  • As you swim, you will be accompanied by club pilots in rowboats, kayaks, SUPs, and motorized water craft. Swim safety procedures for interacting with pilots will be reviewed in the swim briefing.
  • When you come out of the water, you’ll be handed a numbered popsicle stick (tongue depressor). At the stairs to the beach, you’ll hand the popsicle stick to the timers, who will also record your arm number. This is how we keep track of each swimmer’s finish order and make sure everyone who went out also comes back. Do not take the popsicle stick with you to the showers or locker room!

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.