Waikiki Roughwater SwimHonolulu, Hawaii 1 of 8
The 2.4-mile swim was the inspiration for the Ironman triathlon series adopting the same distance for its swim leg. Beyond that, though, the Waikiki Roughwater is an event renowned for its beauty. It starts at Sans Souci Beach in the shadow of Diamond Head, swimming across Waikiki and finishing at Duke Kahanamoku Beach. The race, held every September, has been going since 1970.
La Jolla Rough Water SwimSan Diego, California 2 of 8
La Jolla Cove may be the most beautiful area in Southern California, and this famous swim allows you to get an up-close look at the marine refuge that keeps it picturesque. Often, orange Garibaldi fish will swim underneath you, and sea turtles, seals and other wildlife are often spotted in the area. The swim, now in its 83rd year, has a 1-mile option as well as a 3-mile option for advanced swimmers. It takes place in September.
Swim MiamiMiami, Florida 3 of 8
Swim with the Miami skyline hovering overhead, and the famous Miami Beach close by. Taking place every April, Swim Miami takes participants near Palm Island and its multimillion-dollar homes, and the setting in Biscayne Bay makes the waters calmer than a typical ocean swim. The original Swim Miami debuted in 1989, and today, the distances of 10K, 5K, 1-mile and 800 meters attract nearly 2,000 participants annually.
RCP Tiburon MileTiburon, California 4 of 8
A ferry takes you to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. You then take off and swim approximately 2,000 yards (one nautical mile) back to Tiburon in Marin County. The event started in 1999 and has since become a must-do for swimmers of all abilities. Olympic and world-champion athlete from countries around the world have competed for the $10,000 first prize, but even the masters swimmers have 55 minutes to cross the bay and cross it off the bucket list.
Great Chesapeake Bay SwimAnnapolis, Maryland 5 of 8
Cross the Chesapeake Bay from Sandy Point State Park (near Annapolis) over to Kent Island. The 4.4-mile swim goes underneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Get an up-close look at the United States' largest estuary and challenge your endurance in the process. The swim is held annually in June. (Photo: JennyRuleyPhotography.com)
Big ShouldersChicago, Illinois 6 of 8
Perhaps the most popular swim in the Great Lakes, Big Shoulders offers distances of 5K and 2.5K on a triangular-shaped course in Lake Michigan that starts and finishes at the Ohio Street Beach. The race started in 1990 and has grown to more than 1,200 swimmers annually, each with the challenge of finishing a long-distance swim in freshwater with unpredictable wind patterns, varying water temperature and more.
Alcatraz ChallengeSan Francisco, California 7 of 8
Alcatraz Island has intrigued people for generations. No inmate is believed to have ever escaped from the now-abandoned prison on the island, and swimming from Alcatraz to the mainland is a source of pride for many endurance athletes. This 1.5-mile swim, annually in May, takes place in the chilly San Francisco Bay, its 55-degree waters and its intimidating currents. Are you up for it?