I’m not on a swim team, am I eligible to swim in this race?

This event is open to all USMS (United States Masters Swimming) registered swimmers 18 years of age or older on the day of the race. Any swimmer not USMS registered with PNA must submit a photocopy of their current registration card prior to race check-in. If you are not on a team and thus not registered, USMS “One-Event Registration” is available for this event for $20.00.

How do I join PNA if I’m going to swim in more than one race this summer and don’t want to pay the one-event fee?

Join PNA/Masters Swimming (USMS) by going to: http://registration.usms.org/
If you already registered for the event and want to apply your “One-Event Registration Fee” towards your membership, please email pnaregistrar@usms.org.

Who do I talk to if I have questions about joining PNA?

Please email pnaregistrar@usms.org. 

How much is the entry fee?

  • $70 during the month of May
  • $80 during the month of June
  • $90 from July 1st until race is sold out or July 12th, whichever comes first.

If you are not a registered USMS swimmer — ADD $22 to the above prices.

That’s a ton of dough! Why so pricey?

Your entry fee helps cover: mandatory permits, mandatory insurance, taxes, registration fees, equipment rentals, honey buckets, timing fees, buoys, sound system, lifeguards, boat and paddle board rentals, gas for boats, EMTs and stand-by ambulance, participant and volunteer t-shirts, web services, food, garbage bags, transportation for your gear from start to finish, and a handful of other miscellaneous expenses. Not included in your fees are the 100’s of volunteer man hours that go into putting on a quality, well run race.

Well, that still seems like a lot of money — where does the balance go?

The Fat Salmon Open Water Swim is hosted by the Orca Swim Team, a non-profit organization. This event is entirely run by volunteers. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes time and effort that goes into making this event happen and any profit made goes directly back to Orca Swim Team to offset year-round operating expenses.

What do I get for my money?

Entry into one of the premier open water swimming events in the country, plus a commemorative t-shirt, a quality swim cap, and a spread of yummy treats and beverages to consume post-race.

How do I register?

When registration is open, there will be a link on this website that says REGISTER HERE. There is NO paper registration.  Day of registration may be available pending the capacity of the event, check the homepage for more info as race day approaches.

Does the race have a maximum capacity?

Yes, online registration closes when we hit 350 entries.

Will the race sell out before race day?

Highy likely.

Can I have a refund if I break my arm, stub my toe, or cough up a lung the week before the race?


Can I transfer my registration to a friend if I get the mumps or tear my rotator cuff?

No, see above.

If I can’t make it to the race, can I have the fee applied to next year?

Nope, that’s a deferral, and, as stated above, we don’t allow them.

What happens if the race has to be cancelled due to lightning, water quality, a plague of locusts or a meteor shower?

If weather issues arise on race morning, we’ll wait it out as long as we can, but if we decide that it isn’t safe to put swimmers
in the water, we’ll cancel the race. You’ll still get shirts/caps/bagels/coffee etc. BUT unfortunately WE CANNOT OFFER REFUNDS OR DEFERRALS. The cost of the event is fixed and the money was already spent by race day.

Can I wear a wetsuit?

Absolutely, but you will swim in the wetsuit division, and compete against only other wetsuit swimmers. Results will be displayed separately.

Should I wear a wetsuit?

Water temperature has been anywhere from 58°F to 72°F at this time of year. The lake is much colder than the average swimming pool. Many participants choose to wear a wetsuit. There are definitely many who choose to go without as well, it depends on YOUR comfort level and cold water tolerance and you’re the only one who can make this important decision.

I have a old Speedo Lazr/Blue Seventy/TYR suit that is now illegal for pool swimming. Can I wear it and compete in the non-wetsuit division?

Under USMS rules, all suits that are disallowed by FINA and USMS for pool swims are also banned from open water swimming. However, you can wear it if you’re OK with competing in the wetsuit division.

Can I wear a neoprene swim cap?

Yes, as long as it does not extend below the neck, and you wear the supplied brightly colored cap that correlates to your wave OVER

I have a latex allergy. Do I still have to wear your supplied cap?

No, but you must contact the race director, PRIOR to race day to find out the color of your wave, and bring a non-latex cap in that same color for the race.

I’ve heard there are time guidelines – what are they?

All 3.2 mile race participants should be able to swim a 5000 yard free in 1 hour and 45 minutes or less. This is an approximate time
swum in a POOL to establish if you should sign up for this race.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Participants who are NOT ON TARGET TO FINISH the 3.2 mile swim in 2 hours WILL BE PULLED from the water at the discretion of the Race Director and Safety Official, no questions asked. Please read more about this here: Time Guidelines and Safety Disclaimer

What happens if I don’t think I can swim that fast, but I’m really comfortable in the water and I really want to participate in this event?

Time guidelines are for the safety of everyone involved in the event. We’re not trying to exclude anyone, but we must give fair warning that you may be pulled from the race if your speed puts others at risk. There are many reasons for this: Simply put, it’s not an easy race to swim OR support. For example, you are not going to be swimming close to shore for a quick exit. And we do not want you to leave the water onto the nearest shore exit during the race. Lake Washington is big and VERY deep and finding people is virtually impossible. We only have a certain number of volunteers and boats to keep everyone safe. Should one or two swimmers be way behind the pack, and we find ourselves having one boat per person, this jeopardizes the safety of the entire group, therefore if the Race Director and Safety Official, or the lifeguards, feel you are a safety risk, you will be pulled from the water. You can read more about this here:Time Guidelines and Safety Disclaimer.

I’m a first time open water race participant — should I sign up for this 3.2 mile event?

Only you can make this decision, but if you have any doubt at all, we strongly recommend that you sign up for another shorter distance open water race first. We hope that you have an enjoyable experience, learn what open water racing is all about, and then come back the next year and try for this longer distance event with the proper knowledge and training. Find other races at the PNA website.

A few more thoughts on this subject… We STRONGLY recommend that all swimmers spend time swimming in a lake or ocean to prepare for open water swimming. Learning how to breathe in choppy water, sight for buoys, swim in a pack, and turn around buoys is extremely beneficial to open water swimming and racing. This race is longer and harder than you think. Really.

Do you offer organized training sessions for open water swimming

No, but there are many local coaches to help you with your open water swimming. Email the race director for recommendations. Some local triathlon training groups hold clinics on various weekends in and around Lake Washington as well.

Who provides the safety at your event?

We hire City of Seattle beach lifeguards and supervisors to provide the safety patrol and oversee the course. This is in conjunction with a dedicated Event Safety Director, a fleet of volunteer motorboats (including Harbor Patrol and Coast Guard vessels) and a lot of kayakers. We also utilize Ham Radio operators (also volunteers) in each motorboat to communicate swimmer status and any issues back to land quickly and efficiently. There will be an ambulance on site at Madison Park during the entire event.

Where can I find information about water quality and water temperature?

Please see the King County Swimming Beach Monitoring webpage (for Madison Park Beach). Additionally, you can find current water temperature year-round by checking the buoy (click the red thumb tack).

Since we go to Madison Park for pre-race check-in, how do I get to the starting line?

Carpool!! At the end of the mandatory pre-race meeting, people with cars will be asked to raise their hands in order to help shuffle people into groups and get down to the starting lines. It always seems to work out. If you have a car we encourage you to drive as many people as you can, and if you need a ride, look for someone who has a car. These are friendly people! Then, after the race festivities are over, if you got a ride to the start, you can offer someone a ride back to pick up their car.

How do I get my clothes and stuff back to the Madison Park finish line?

There will be large white bags given to everyone at check in. They’ll be marked with your race number. Your gear goes in the marked bag at the start and put on a truck to be transported back to the Madison Park finish area. Bags are with volunteers at all times, but we do recommend leaving valuables at home as we cannot be responsible for lost items.

Can I really swim for free if I bring at least two kayakers or a motorboat with me?

Entry fees will be reimbursed to anyone who can provide us with a motor boat AND driver, OR two kayakers WITH paddlers. However, we MUST know about them ahead of race day so that we can make sure they are qualified to volunteer AND also give them the proper instructions. THEN, your volunteers must show up on the day of race in order for you to get the refund, so you must still pay to enter the race now. If you are not a USMS registered swimmer, the “One Event” fee is not reimbursable — only the entry fee.

How do I get to Madison Park?

FROM SOUTH Driving on I-5 Northbound:

  1. Take the DEARBORN ST./ JAMES ST. exit, EXIT 164A, toward MADISON ST.
  2. (Don’t exit on Dearboarn though…) Take the I-5 N exit on the LEFT toward MADISON ST/CONVENTION CENTER/VANCOUVER BC. 0.2 mi
  3. Take the exit toward MADISON ST./CONVENTION PLACE. 0.2 mi
  4. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto 7TH AVE. 0.0 mi
  5. Turn RIGHT onto MADISON ST. 3.1 mi
  6. Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto E HOWE ST., park will be in front of you.

FROM NORTH Driving on I-5 Southbound:

  1. Merge onto WA-520 E via EXIT 168B on the LEFT (toward BELLEVUE/KIRKLAND)
  2. Take the MONTLAKE BLVD exit toward UNIV OF WASH. 0.2 mi
  3. Turn RIGHT onto MONTLAKE BLVD E. 0.0 mi
  4. MONTLAKE BLVD E becomes E MONTLAKE PL E. 0.1 mi
  5. E MONTLAKE PL E becomes 24TH AVE E. 0.5 mi
  6. Turn LEFT onto E INTERLAKEN BLVD. 0.4 mi
  8. Turn LEFT onto E MADISON ST. 1.0 mi
  9. Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto E HOWE ST., park will be in front of you.

From EAST SIDE, via 520 W:

  1. Take the LAKE WASHINGTON BLVD exit. 0.5 mi
  2. Turn LEFT onto LAKE WASHINGTON BLVD E. 1.2 mi
  3. Turn LEFT onto E MADISON ST. 1.0 mi
  4. Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto E HOWE ST., park will be in front of you.

From EAST SIDE, via I-90W:

  1. Merge onto I-5 North
  2. Follow “Driving on I-5 Northbound” instructions above


  1. Start out going NORTHWEST on ALASKAN WAY toward MARION ST. 0.0 mi
  2. Turn RIGHT onto MARION ST. 0.4 mi
  3. Turn LEFT onto 6TH AVE. 0.1 mi
  4. Turn RIGHT onto MADISON ST. 3.2 mi
  5. Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto E HOWE ST., park will be in front of you.

To use your own navigational system the address to use is: “Intersection of E Madison St and 43rd Ave E” Zip code is 98112.

Where can I park?

PLEASE DO NOT park directly in front of the restaurants and businesses of the “downtown” Madison Park neighborhood adjacent to the park. (You will be ticketed, guaranteed!) Please park legally, in the nearby residential areas.

Park responsibly and please also be courteous in the residential neighborhood. Not everyone is going to be as excited to be awake on a Saturday morning as you are!