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For 33 years, bold athletes have been swimming from Peaks Island to East End Beach in Portland to support our YMCA.
We cordially invite you to participate in this annual event, as an athlete, as a volunteer, or as a sponsor, to help us raise money for the Y's financial assistance program.
This year's event will be held on Saturday, July 18th, 2015 at 8:30am. Registration opens Wednesday, February 18th at 5am! Visit our homepage for the link to register!
Like our YMCA of Southern Maine - Special Events Facebook page for the most up to date information on registration and race day tips!
The Peaks to Portland swim, a 2.4 mile swim from Peaks Island to East End Beach in Portland, is intended to encourage participation for people ages 16 and older with a variety of fitness levels and competitive experiences. We encourage anyone who can swim a mile in less than 40 minutes to join us for this unforgettable swim across the shipping channel in Casco Bay to East End Beach! It will be an open water swim of a life-time!
Race Date: July 18, 2015
Weather Related Cancellation Date: July 19, 2015
Race Time: 8:30 am Race Start
Registration Fee: $125
Thursday and Friday, July 16 & 17, 2015
7:00 am – 7:00 pm: Packet Pick Up at the Greater Portland Branch.
Please enter through High Street Entrance.
6:00 – 6:30 am: Arrive at Casco Bay Ferry – unload kayaks
Purchase Ferry Tickets (if not already purchased)
6:30 – 6:45 am: Board Ferry
6:45 am: Ferry Leaves for Peaks Island
7:00 am: Ferry Arrives at Peaks Island
Proceed to Beach Area at this time
Waiver signing; body marking; pick up timing chips
7:45 am: Kayak Meeting
8:00 – 8:15 am: Swim Warm Up
8:10 am: Opening Ceremonies
8:30 am: Race Start
10:30 - 11:00 am: Award Ceremony
Everyone will be ceded by swim time. You are required to submit your swim time for a mile. We will then assign you a swim wave. Swim waves will be assigned by swim times. The fastest swimmers will leave first.
Registration: $125 Fee
Fundraising: Minimum of $250 to be eligible for fundraising prizes
The Peaks to Portland swim is for people age 16 and older. Your entry fee includes your place at the start line, a great t-shirt, well-marked and supported course, post race refreshments, and a family fun filled day!
Packet pick-up will take place Thursday, July 16th, and Friday, July 17th, at the YMCA in Portland from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm. Please enter the Y though the High Street entrance.
You can also pick up your packets on race day by pre-arrangement only. Contact Terry Swain for details.
Parking can be a bit hectic on the day of the race! We are lucky to have such a great event in the City of Portland, but with being in the city comes city parking challenges! Here's a list of parking options in Portland for you to consider. We suggest you get there early, drop off your kayak at Casco Bay Lines, and leave plenty of time to park before the boat leaves. The ferry leaves at 6:45am sharp!
The Coast Guard will be the entity who will decide if we can enter the water on race day. If for any reason the race is rescheduled it will be July 19th, 2015. If inclement weather please call 874-1111 after 5am to see if race has been postponed.
Our YMCA is a registered (501)(c)(3) organization. There will be no refunds for this event. Your registration is not refundable and is non-transferable.
The swim will take place in Casco Bay starting at Peaks Island to East End Beach in Portland ME. The course is 2.4 miles long.
There will be 5 waves. You will be put in a swim wave based on your swim time. Swim waves will go off with the fastest swimmers going first.
To qualify for the swim you must be able to swim 1 mile in 40 minutes or less. If you have not competed in the Peaks to Portland in the last 2 years you will have to furnish us with your swim time that has been witnessed by a life guard, or a swim coach.
All first time swimmers are expected to have boat support. If you are over 18 and have completed several open water swims that can be documented you may sign a waiver to allow you to swim without a kayak. Click here for waiver.
After you have crossed the finish line, post race refreshments will be provided. We will also have other post race festivities. Please enjoy your day!
Everyone must sign a waiver before you are allowed to swim. Swimmers who competed in the 2013-2014 Peaks to Portland events do not need to submit a qualifying swim time. This must be signed off by a lifeguard, swim coach, or Aquatics Director and submitted.
The Peaks to Portland training classes will eventually take you outside into the ocean for practice. We will also start talking about the logistics of race day and how to prepare you and your kayaker for the race. The trainings include overall fitness and strength training as well as pool time. Please call your local branch to find out about our training class offerings.
Awards and Certificates will be issued in the following categories for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place.
Male & Female Top YMCA Member
Male & Female Top Non Wet Suit
19 and under (wet suit & non-wet suit)
20 – 29
30 – 39
40 – 49
50 – 59
60 – 69
One of the key components to the success of Peaks to Portland is fundraising! The money raised at this event will go toward our financial assistance program. In total, the YMCA of Southern Maine provided more than $1,000,000 in financial assistance to members of our community last year. The proceeds from this event will ensure that we continue to make our programs and services accessible to all.
All athletes who fundraise over $250 will receive the following prizes:
TOP FUNDRAISER ($1,500 minimum)
- One-Year YMCA Membership
- Long Sleeve Performance Tee
- Long Sleeve Performance Tee
- Long Sleeve Performance Tee
- Long Sleeve Performance Tee
Included with Entry
- Peaks to Portland T-Shirt
The Peaks to Portland Swim would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Each year the event uses almost 100 volunteers to make the event run smoothly and safely for all of our participants.
Volunteers will be assigned positions based on their interest, abilities, and the needs of the event. Volunteers are needed on both Peaks Island as well as East End Beach in Portland. All volunteers will receive a t-shirt along with refreshments at the event.
Volunteers are needed for the following positions:
- Athlete Check-In (5:30-11:00am): Check athletes into the event on Peaks Island. This role involves being detailed oriented, organized, standing for an hour at a time, and being positive around other people.
- Body Marker (5:30-11:00am): Write the participant number on each athlete’s body after they check into the race. This role involves being focused, able to write legibly, standing for an hour at a time, and being respectful and positive around others.
- Timing Chip Aid (5:30-11:00am): Assist the timing company with distributing the timing chips to each athlete. This role involves standing for an hour at a time, bending down to attach the chip to the swimmer’s ankle, being focused and task oriented.
- Beach Greeter (5:30-11:00am): Greet all athletes as they come onto the beach and direct each swimmer, their kayaker, and the ones lifting the kayaks to the right place. This role involves being welcoming, talking in a loud voice, and be able to direct people to the right location.
- Peaks Island Floater (5:30-11:00am): A floater is an additional volunteer who will be available to help with any task needed on Peaks Island on the day of the event. This could involve filling in for any of the roles on Peaks Island, helping to clear the beach in the morning, and helping to clean up the beach before heading back to the mainland.
- Volunteer Kayaker: Please e-mail the Event Director if you are interested in volunteering as a kayaker for swimmers who do not already have a kayaker for the event.
- Food Tent (7:00am-1:00pm): Food Tent volunteers will be in charge of the food set up and distribution to the swimmers once they finish the race. This role involves preparing the food before the race, standing for an hour at a time, cleaning the areas around the food, and being positive around people.
- Kayak Loading (8:30am-1:00pm): Help kayakers lift their kayaks out of the water at the end of the race and assist them as they load the kayaks onto their cars. This role involves being able to lift 50 pounds, bending down to catch and lift kayaks, being task oriented, and organized.
- Medal Distribution (8:30am-1:00pm): At the end of the race, medal distributors will hang medals around the athlete’s neck. This role involves standing for an hour at a time, lifting your arms, and being positive around people.
- Parking Attendant (6:30am-1:00pm): Parking attendants will manage the traffic flow down to the event site on East End Beach. This role involves strong communication skills, being detail oriented, and positive around people.
- Swimmer Chute Guide (8:00am-1:00pm): Guide athletes from the water to the finish line and medical tent as well as keeping non-athletes away from the finish line. This role involves standing for long periods of time, cheering on athletes, lifting athletes should they need it, and being aware of your surroundings.
- Timing Chip Aid (8:00am-1:00pm): Assist the timing company with the removal of the timing chips from each athlete’s leg. This role involves bending, standing for long periods of time, and staying focused in a busy area of the event.
- Water Tent (7:00am-1:00pm): Water attendants will help to fill water bottles for each athlete and distribute them at the end of the race. This role involves bending to fill water bottles, passing water bottles to athletes, and being positive around people.
- Wet Suit Aid (8:30am-1:00pm): Wet suit aids will help unzip the wet suits of each swimmer at the end of the event. This role involves standing for long periods of time, bending, staying focused in a busy area of the event, and being positive around people.
- Set-Up (6:00am-9:00am): Set-Up volunteers will aid in all elements of getting East End Beach prepared for the event. This role involves standing for long periods of time, lifting items as needed, and being willing to take direction where help is needed.
- Clean-Up (11:00am-1:00pm): Clean-Up volunteers will aid in all elements of clearing East End Beach at the end of the event. This role involves standing for long periods of time, lifting items as needed, and being willing to take direction where help is needed.
- East End Beach Floater (7:00am-Noon): A floater is an additional volunteer who will be available to help with any task needed on East End Beach on the day of the event. This could involve filling in for any of the roles on East End Beach, helping to clear the beach in the morning, and helping to clean up the beach at the end of the event.
Volunteers will be required to sign the Volunteer Consent Form on the day of the race.
How old do I have to be to swim Peaks to Portland
The minimum age for all participants is 16 years old.
What do I wear for the race?
SWIMMER: A wetsuit is not required but recommended.
KAYAKER: The kayaker should wear something comfortable that is dry fit so that if you get wet you can easily dry. Please bring sunscreen, a hat and water for both you and your swimmer.
How are the Waves assigned?
SWIMMER: Participants will be assigned to a wave based on swim time for mile. Fastest swimmers will go first.
KAYAKER: You will line up in order of swim waves in the water. The first swim wave kayakers should be the furthest from the start. Second swim wave will be closer to the swim start and so on. Last swim wave will be the closest to the swim start.
What time will my Wave start?
SWIMMER & KAYAKER: The first swim wave will start at approximately 8:30am. Each subsequent swim wave will start 3 minutes later. A wave sheet with the start times will be provided to you on or before the packet pick-up on Friday.
What time should I arrive?
SWIMMER & KAYAKER: You should arrive at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal at 6:00 am. Leave plenty of time to unload your kayak, get your packet & ferry ticket if you did not pre-purchase your ferry ticket or pick up your packet on Thursday. The ferry will leave at 6:45 sharp. There will be no other ferry to get to the race start on time. If you miss this ferry you will not be able to swim. Kayakers are encouraged to kayak to Peaks Island from East End Beach.
What should I bring with me on race day?
SWIMMER: Wetsuit, change of clothes, water & towel. You can give your change of clothes & towel to a spectator at the finish line so that you can change when you finish. You may also ask your kayaker to hold it for you in the kayak. We suggest using a clear plastic bag to put clothes in for your kayaker to bring back for you. Please bring some water with you to give to your kayaker in case you need it during the swim.
Where should I park?
SWIMMER: We suggest allowing at least 45 minutes for parking. The Casco Bay Ferry Terminal fills up quickly and you will most likely need to find other options. Please click here to see other parking options. We will provide transportation back to the Terminal Area after the awards ceremony. You could be dropped off at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal and your spectators can park at the race finish at East End Beach.
KAYAKER: You may park at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal (see other options in case the Terminal is full) and transport to Peaks Island on the ferry. The kayak will be free ($18 savings). After the awards ceremony will we will transport you back to the ferry terminal where you will get your car and drive back to East End Beach to load your kayak. ALTERNATIVE: Park at East End Beach and kayak over to Peaks Island swim start.
Where are the restrooms?
There are many restrooms available at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal and at the swim start on Peaks Island and at the finish at East End Beach.
Where can a spectator get something to eat or drink?
We will have food available to purchase at the event.
Will there be professional medical personnel on hand?
Yes, we will have plenty of medical personnel on hand if needed. We will also have ambulances on location if they are needed.
Is there a risk of hypothermia?
Yes, because of the cold Maine waters, both swimmers and kayakers should be aware that there is a risk of hypothermia. Please make sure to read and understand the Hypothermia Document before your swim.
A dowel is a wooden rod that you can buy at Home Depot or other similar stores. We ask that you use this to display your swimmer's number and they are color coded by swim wave. This makes it easier to see swimmers/kayakers for safety purposes. An example from last year: