Bridges to Bluffs


K.O.W.S. The Knoxville Open Water Swimmers and Kayak/SUP Pilots: Adults (18+).


We meet for open water swims in the Tennessee River near the Star of Tennessee Riverboat. Kayak support is provided by our partner Billy Lush Board Shop. Swimmers please ask a friend (adult) to pilot for you or volunteer to kayak some of the time too. After the swim we head to Billy Lush Board Shop for drinks and food and to say thanks to the pilots!


Thursdays beginning in May, we meet at 5:30pm. We jump in by 5:45pm. Swim briefing at 5:40pm on the Billy Lush dock near the Star of Knoxville Riverboat.



Thursday Nights 5:30pm

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1) What type of swimmer do I need to be to swim with the group?

-Most of our swimmers have competitive swimming backgrounds or participate in triathlons.

-You MUST be able to swim freestyle (with your face in the water and side breathing).

-You must be able to swim at least 1 mile in the pool. We have short swims and long swims. It is recommended that you can swim 2 miles per hour in a pool, as is typical of masters swimming workouts.

2) What routes do we swim?

- We choose the routes on the day of the swim based on the current.

-The short swims usually last 30 minutes. It is called the short swim because the distance covered is shorter than the long swim (not the time in water).

- Long swim routes take us 45 mins-1 hr.

- If you are a slower swimmer, it is expected you go on the short swim unless you have your own pilot.

3) Rules:

-Swim Aids: No fins allowed. No paddles.

-You must wear a brightly colored cap.

-You cannot swim in clothes.

-Absolutely no MP3 players in the water (you can't hear the pilot).

-You must listen to and follow the instructions of your pilot.

4) Kayak/SUP Pilots What do the kayakers and sup-ers do?

-The pilots look out for the safety of the swimmers, make the swimmers more visible to boats, and guide (herd) the swimmers when people are going astray.

-Pilots can see motor boats when swimmers can't. Motor boats see the kayakers first and then know to slow down and stay clear.

-Please spread the word and ask your friends to come and kayak for the group. It's fun and free!

-In the event that we do not have enough kayakers show up, it is expected that swimmers volunteer to kayak, even if they had wanted to swim.

5) Post-swim drinks or dinner with the KOWS.

-Pilots are invited of course - one drink on the swimmers!



The currents can be strong and safety comes first. YOU SHOULD NEVER SWIM ON YOUR OWN WITHOUT A KAYAKER. YOU COULD GET HIT BY A BOAT OR BARGE AND LOSE A LIMB OR GET KILLED! This group was organized in order for swimmers to have a safe, open water environment. There can be broken glass. There can be debris in the river.