30th Annual Chicago Masters' Big Shoulders 5K and 2.5K Open Water Long Distance Swim Classic

Big Shoulders

Saturday, September 11, 2021

USMS Sanction : 211-W001

Big Shoulders 5K and 2.5K

Open Water Registration


Registration Schedule

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Swimmer Registration Fri, Jun 4, 2021
08:15 PM
Sat, Jul 31, 2021
11:59 PM


Saturday, September 11, 2021, 8:00 AM at Ohio Street Beach, Chicago


  • Phase 1 TRANSFERS (May 24-May 30): Swimmers who transferred their 2020 entry to 2021 are invited as first priority pre-registration from May 24th 10pm Central time through May 30th 11pm Central time. Only processing fees are due unless USMS One-Day Membership must be purchased. If you missed the Phase 1 registration, send an email to Support@ClubAssistant.com requesting special access and transfer of your 2020 funds to the 2021 registration you will process.
  • Phase 2 DONORS (May 31-June 4): Swimmers who donated their 2020 entry to UIC may register priority for 2021 from May 31st through June 4th. Standard entry fees due.
  • Phase 3 REFUNDS FROM 2020 and NEW REGISTRANTS (June 4 through to max capacity): Open registration period for general public and swimmers who refunded their 2020 entry. Closing when the max capacity of 1200 is reached or July 31, whichever comes first. Standard entry fees due.
RACE DAY SCHEDULE: 8:00 AM start for first wave of 5K Swim. 8:20 AM start for first wave of 2.5K Swim. Checkin begins at 6:30 AM. Course Briefing at 7:40 AM. Waves seeded by time for 1st heat, then by age and distance.

SANCTION: Sanctioned by Illinois Masters Swimming Association for USMS, Inc.

COURSE/TIMING: Triangular 2.5K course; marked both by buoys and lifeguards in row boats. (Click to go to website with course map and aerial view of course.) Swimmers start in the water, and finish with a run up the beach. Water temps have varied between 63-80°F. D Tag timing system used.

PARKING: Discounted Parking is available (details to follow). Bring your parking stub to the registration table for a validation stamp.

QUESTIONS? Check out www.bigshouldersswim.com, or email at bigshoulders2013@yahoo.com

ONLINE REGISTRATION: Register for the race online for speed, accuracy and email receipt.  No mail-in registration offered. Online registrations are paid by credit card to "ClubAssistant.com Events".

ELITE WAVE: The 70 fastest seed times provided for the 5K Non-Wetsuit Division will swim in the Elite Wave of the 5K that starts first.

USMS REGISTRATION: You must be a USMS member (or international equivalent) to compete in Big Shoulders. Online race registration begins with USMS membership verification. You may join or renew USMS membership at www.usms.org/join. One Event Membership to USMS is available for $15.

RACE DAY ENTRIES: Race Day Entries are not available. Race has sold out the past 6 years. There will be no refunds, no waitlist, no deferrals, no transfers and no whining.

REFUNDS: NO refunds, no deferrals, no transfers, no whining.

RULES: All swimmers are required to wear the supplied fluorescent swim caps for safety reasons. Current USMS Open Water rules will apply. (Those with a latex allergy, contact the race administrator for alternate options).

Registration for the 5K will close when entries reach 800.
Registration for the 2.5K will close when entries reach 400.
There will be no waitlists.
Entry Fee is $90.00.
Processing fees range from $5.00 depending on phase of early or standard registration.

Online registrations are paid by credit card to "ClubAssistant.com Events".

NOTE – Race entry fee does not include USMS membership fees or processing fees.
All participants will receive a shirt at the race, and in past years collectible items like coffee mugs, swimming products, etc. An assortment of pre and post race food and drink will be available to participants also.


  • One high quality collectible t-shirt is included with entry fee! Extra shirts may be purchased for an additional $15.00.
  • All other Big Shoulders Merchandise can be purchased by clicking here (sold through A3).

WETSUITS: Swimmers wearing wetsuits are welcome to register in the Wetsuit Division, but will not be started in the elite wave and will not be eligible for age group awards. However, swimmers wearing any suits approved by USMS will be permitted to swim and be tabulated with the age group swimmers.

Swimmers will be permitted to switch to the wetsuit division without penalty up to 5 days before the event.  If the water temperature is forecast to be below 65, swimmers will be permitted to switch to the wetsuit division on race day.  If the water is below 60 degrees on race day, swimmers will be required to wear a wetsuit or demonstrate sufficient cold water open water experience to the race committee.

Angel Swimmers: Available for only for the 2.5K. Angel Swimmers are experienced open water swimmers who will accompany you around the course to provide advice and comfort. However, they are not trained lifesavers.

AWARDS & RESULTS: Each finisher will receive a finisher’s award. Results will be posted on the internet at www.bigshouldersswim.com. Wetsuit swimmers are scored for top three male and female overall.

LODGING: Courtyard by Marriott - Magnificent Mile has once again carved out a block of rooms at the discount rate of $209/nt. for Sept 10 & Sept 11. The hotel is 3 blocks from the race start, and in a great area for restaurants, site seeing and shopping. To reserve a room call 1-800-321-2211 and reference the Big Shoulders block, or code BST.

DIRECTIONS: Race begins at Ohio Street Beach. To access Ohio Street Beach, exit Lake Shore Drive from either north or south at the Grand/Illinois exit and head east towards the lake. Park at Navy Pier.

COURSE MAP: Map shows course used for the past several years. One lap around the course is 2.5K, two laps is 5K. Course is subject to change depending upon race day conditions.

Note: If paying by credit card, your credit card statement will reflect a charge from "ClubAssistant.com Events."

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