Schedule – Safety – Rules

We welcome you to the Annual Alligator Lighthouse Swim. This event is a mainstay in the Islamorada community and we welcome athletes and their families. Please come to our community and enjoy a weekend of swimming and friendship.



Thursday, September 12, 2019 | Arrive

  • 4:00pm – 6:00pm: Early Check in and packet pickup at Amara Cay Resort Fish Bowl conference room for those in town.
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm: Informal Meet and Greet at the Florida Keys Brewing Co. Test the crafts beers before the awards party on Saturday.

Friday, September 13, 2019 | Check-In

  • 7:00am – 10:00am: Swim With the Fighting Manatee & Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Olsen at the Ron Levy Aquatic Center Founders Park 87000 Overseas Highway.
  • 10:00am – 7:00pm: Check in and packet pickup.
  • 1:00pm, 3:00pm, or 6:00pm: Mandatory Safety Meetings.

All Swimmers and Kayakers must sign a waiver and attend safety meeting. Rental Kayaks check in/staging on the beach. If you are bringing your own kayak, it must be approved by staff for staging.

Saturday, September 14, 2019 | Swim, the reason you’re here!

  • 5:45am – 6:45am: Check in – staging of Kayaks – last minute arrivals…under extreme circumstances.

Mandatory Pre-race Meeting

  • 6:15am – 6:30AM there will be a mandatory pre-race meeting. The meeting will take place at the beach.
  • All swimmers and kayakers must attend this final safety and information meeting.
  • Please refer to course map prior to the meeting.
  • If you haven’t met your kayaker prior to this meeting, you’ll meet your kayaker during the meeting where you can discuss your race plan.
  • All kayaks must have team race number attached before starting the event.
  • We need to identify your kayak at all times.

Please refer to the course map prior to the meeting. If you haven’t met your kayaker prior to this meeting, you’ll meet your kayaker during the meeting where you can discuss your race plan.

  • 7:45am – 3:30pm on the course Amara Cay Resort/Beach/Swim
  • 6:00pm – 8:00pm Awards Dinner & Post Race Awards Party Amara Cay Resort

Swim waves will leave in assigned waves:

  • Wave # 1 7:45am – 7:50am – Solo Swimmers-Neon Yellow Caps
  • Wave # 2 7:52am – 2 person teams- Neon Green Caps
  • Wave # 3 7:54am – 3 person teams- Neon Pink Caps
  • Wave # 4 8:00am – 4 person teams-Neon Orange Caps

Sunday , September 15, 2019 | Farewell

  • Informal Breakfast — our send off to those traveling from afar. This option is an “add on” at host hotel.



All swimmers and kayakers MUST be present for one safety meeting prior to the swim on Saturday. We suggest that you do your best to attend the meeting scheduled Friday (day before race) as it is more in depth.

  • The Friday meetings are scheduled for 1pm, 3pm and 6pm, these meetings are highly recommend as they are more in depth.
  • The Saturday morning meeting is at 6:15 to 6:30am before the start of the swim. It is a shorter, less focused meeting and attending a Friday meeting is HIGHLY recommended.
  • If you are driving in Saturday morning it is important that you make time for staging kayaks and pre-race prep.

Water safety will be provided by the course management to all kayaks, powerboats, jet skis, a police boat, and an EMT that will be patrolling the course

  • Each powerboat will be flying a small orange flag and each jet ski rider will have an orange mark on the back of their life jackets for identification
  • Kayakers/Pilots will be instructed on how to seek assistance. An EMT will be available on the water and safety personnel will be instructed on how to assist a distressed swimmer and trained medical personnel will be available to assist in emergency situations
  • The MANDATORY pre-race meeting will review common communication signals for kayakers (and swimmers) to use and recognize out on the course.

SUPPORT CRAFT: (you MUST review more detailed Rules for Support Craft)

All Swimmers MUST have a support craft with them at all times while they swim. If your support craft (kayak, boat, etc.) can’t continue, neither can you. We must have a way to keep track of you in that 4-mile expanse of ocean between the shore and the lighthouse so your support craft is extremely important. (This will be discussed during the safety meetings)

  • Important: if something happens to the support craft or you get separated from them, swim to the nearest safety boat and let them know what happened. They’ll either get you back to shore or re-unite you with your support craft.
  • All escort and safety craft shall refrain from navigating through a pack of swimmers at all times unless the authorized safety craft must respond to an emergency.
  • Powerboats must maintain a 100’ perpendicular distance from the line of large orange buoys that mark the swim course. This is imperative to avoid swimmer-boat collisions. (This will be discussed during the safety meetings)
  • Powerboats must have their engines at idle if closer than 100’ to the big buoys and engines off when exchanging swimmers. (This will be discussed during the safety meetings.)
  • If ANY escort craft impedes another swimmer, the escort boat’s athlete will be immediately disqualified


  • Kayakers and Powerboats MUST have cell phones to contact the race organizers if they have problems.
  • Powerboats should also bring a VHF radio for race day communications. Kayakers, since VHF radios aren’t very practical in a kayak, our safety boats will communicate any problems to you that may exist (but still, bring a cell phone). Watch for them and wave hello-they will be the boats or jet-skis with dayglo bright orange long sleeve shirts.


  • Must have the stamina for the distance to be paddled.
  • Be proficient at open ocean paddling.
  • Have experience with, and bring, a spray skirt for use that day if using a sea kayak.
  • Be able to do self-rescue if kayak capsizes and be able to pump it out to continue supporting swimmer.


  • The kayaks that aren’t allowed to support swimmers: sit-in, recreational grade kayaks that are easily swamped, can’t be bailed out and then too often require rescue.
  • NO CANOES / NO PADDLE BOARDS – for same reasons above.
  • Sea Kayak-should have two bulkheads,
  • A sea skirt
  • Hand operated bilge pump.
  • These-are “sit-in” type.
  • Not all sit-in types are Sea Kayaks.
  • Sit on top kayak-use this type if you’re not skilled using the Sea Kayak.
  • It should be self-bailing and have a minimum length of 14’. Sit-on tops are more stable but often a little slower.
  • The shorter the slower, so we’d like to see a 14’ length minimum.
  • We suggest having a rudder.



SAFETY MEETINGS ARE MANDATORY!  (All Questions Will be Answered During the Safety Meetings.)

All swimmers and kayakers MUST be present for the safety meeting prior to the swim on Saturday. We suggest that you do your best to attend the meeting scheduled Friday (day before race) as it is more in depth. All swimmers and kayakers must attend this final safety and information meeting.

  • All Swimmers and Kayakers must sign a waiver!
  • All swimmers to be at least 15 years of age (14, with Race Director approval) on day of race and signed up on a solo, 2 person/3 person/4 person team.
  • This event is closed to regular boat traffic during the hours of the competition 7:45am-3:45pm
  • We can only allow swimmers and escort kayaks on the course. Some support craft will be on site.
  • We do not allow undocumented kayaks or boats on the course during the event; it is for your safety!
  • Cut Off Swim Times: You must be able to complete the swim in LESS THAN 8 HOURS 7:45am-3:45pm. This means that if there is ZERO current, then you should be able to swim 1 open water mile in about 45-50 minutes.
  • All swimmers must be to the Alligator Lighthouse within 3 hours and 30 minutes of the their start time. If you’re not within the final 1-mile of the swim finish within 7 hours, you may be pulled by a safety boat and shuttled to the finish line
  • Athletes may wear swim caps, goggles, heart rate monitors, wrist watches, protective swimwear (including full-length swimsuits), and wetsuits of any thickness or composition as the event permits.
  • Most likely wetsuits will not be allowed.
  • However, awards will only be offered to athletes who wear FINA-legal swimsuits, one swim cap, goggles and/or ear and/or nose plugs.
  • We strongly recommend that all Swimmers wear their assigned swim cap during the entire event and show assigned race numbers when asked for by race officials.
  • Swimmers will be chipped timed.
  • You will be given a disposable ankle band you must wear it during the complete swim.
  • Swimmers will be also wear wrist band with information and body marked with assigned numbers. This is for your safety.
  • Athletes may use fins, snorkels, swim streamers, Shark Shields® or other shark repellent or protective equipment, hand paddles, safety rings, booties or any kind of Swimmer Safety Devices as they require or desire and which is allowed by the local governing body or race director. However, athletes using these types of equipment shall only be eligible for an overall award Male/Female in the Equipment category.
  • Athletes may wear any type of sunscreen or skin lubrication including lanolin, Vaseline® or any other kind of commercial skin protection on any part of their body. Apply early and often for your protection.
  • Athletes are encouraged to remove jewelry, necklaces, rings, and wristwatches during the event.
  • The course is marked with a combination of Orange/Yellow Buoys and Guide Buoys of different colors, sizes and shapes.
  • The turnaround at Alligator Lighthouse will be easily seen as these buoys indicate a turn or change of direction and can be navigated on the left side of the athletes
  • The Guide Buoys should be smaller as these buoys are simply aids in helping swimmers understand the course layout.
  • The Guide Buoys can be navigated on the left side by the athletes. (See Map)
  • Scoring will be done with timing chips and they will be issued to each athlete, be they solo or a member of a two person, three person or four person team.
  • Each swimmer must wear the chip during the entire swim in order to be scored If you do not complete the course please let an official know and turn in your chip for documentation.
  • All athletes will cross the timing mat at the swim entry at the start and swim finish. You may finish with your team at the finish arch.
  • There will be a separate gun start for solo swimmers, then a wave for 2 person teams followed by 3 person team and 4 person team waves.
  • We will use a video-recording device at the start of the event to record the athletes getting into the water and there will also be video-recording at the swim finish.
  • There will be use of aerial photography and videography of the sanctioned event to provide to the media.

Kayak Requirements (Sit on Top)

We recommend a sit on top Kayak. Kayaks should be at least 12-14 feet in length and capable of handling choppy water conditions. The small, recreational kayaks cannot be used in this race! Having a rudder on your kayak can greatly help you paddle straight even in windy and choppy conditions

  • Please make sure you have an adequate kayak or you may not be allowed to start the race! (Please no drama)
  • Safety for both our swimmers and kayakers is our utmost priority!
  • All Kayaks must have an assigned race number visible at all times.

Power Boats

Power boats on the swim course for any 2 person/3 person or 4 person team must stay outside the swimming lane at all times. Help us reduce the power boat traffic on the swim course, rent a kayak.

  • Boats are required to stay at least 100ft from the line of swimming buoys at all times.
  • If a boat is found in the swimming lane they will be assessed a penalty of 2 minutes to the relay finish time. If a boat is noted a second time in the swimming lane, they will be assessed a 4 minute penalty and on the third infraction, your relay team will be disqualified from the event.
  • Safety First at all times.
  • Pilots must shut off engines while making the transfers of relay swimmers. Safety flags when changing swimmers.
  • The Alligator Lighthouse Swim is an alcohol free event during the hours of 7:45am-3:45pm. We prohibit alcohol on the swim course.
  • Please swim and operate your boats and kayaks Responsibly
  • All swimmers and kayakers must provide their own nutrition (water, electrolytes, and calories) for the entire race and have a means for securing it to the kayak.
  • There are no water stations out on the course.

Relay Teams

  • The first swimmer of each 2 person, 3 person and 4 person teams must swim at least 20 minutes on the team’s first rotation.
  • This will spread the swimmers out on the 8 mile course. You can swap swimmers at any time after the allotted 20 minutes window, as many times as you want during the race.
  • Relay members must swim at least one portion during the event. Again, power boats must stay 100’ outside of the swimming lane (buoys)at all times.
  • Relay teams: 2-person relay teams should use a single person sit-on-top type kayak that is at least 12-14 feet in length. 3-person relay teams should use a double sit-on-top type kayak that can accommodate the weight of two team members plus all of your other gear. 4-person relay teams can use a single and double sit-on-top kayak for this purpose.
  • Relay teams: The kayaker exiting the kayak to swim must maintain contact and control of the kayak until the swimmer makes the exchange by hand-to-hand touch. At this moment, the finishing swimmer becomes the kayaker and the only team member permitted contact with the kayak.
  • All kayakers must have a whistle and wear an approved PFD while paddling.
  • Each kayaker must have a cell phone secured in a dry bag for use in case of an emergency
  • PLEASE NOTE: In case of inclement weather, unusually adverse surf conditions, or any other factors that may arise, an event committee composed of the event directors and safety personnel may modify the starting time or cancel the event. If you can’t participate in the race, there are no refunds, transfers, or deferrals for any reason. The cost of the event is fixed.

Pre-race Meeting (Day of Race)
Saturday morning, 6:15-6:30AM there will be a mandatory pre-race meeting. The meeting will take place at the beach.

  • All swimmers and kayakers must attend this final safety and information meeting.
  • Please refer to course map prior to the meeting.
  • If you haven’t met your kayaker prior to this meeting, you’ll meet your kayaker during the meeting where you can discuss your race plan.
  • All kayaks must have team race number attached before starting the event.
  • We need to identify your kayak at all times.



Prior to the Race

  • We recommend that you complete at least a 2 to 3 hour training swim and practice feeding every 30-minutes prior to attempting this race!
  • If you’re doing a relay and don’t have experience paddling a kayak, you must spend time learning how to paddle a kayak safely.
  • If you’re a solo swimmer, make sure you communicate with your kayaker prior to race day so that you’re both on the same page about your race plans.
  • Don’t wait until race day to communicate!
  • If we’re providing a pilot for you, we’ll be sending both you and your pilot an email introducing each other. You’ll then have their email address for further communication. It is up to you the swimmer to communicate with your kayaker prerace. Swimmers usually rent the kayak for the support person and pay for post -race dinner or race swag….craft beer is good too.
  • If you have any questions about your ability to swim this event, please contact the race directors.

Water Temperature (Projected)
84-89 F degrees