Willamette River Swim Clinics

Practicing ‘wild’ open water swimming in the heart of Salem, Oregon.

Our Summer 2019 Clinics start and finish

on the dock at the Wallace Marine Park in West Salem, Oregon


Wednesday, July 10, 6:00 to 7:00pm

Tuesday, July 30, 6:00 to 7:00pm

Tuesday, Aug 13, 6:00 to 7:00pm

Tuesday, Sept 10, 6:00 to 7:00pm


Saturday, July 6, 10:00 to 11:00am

Saturday, July 27, 10:00 to 11:00am

Saturday, Aug 10, 10:00 to 11:00am

Saturday, Sept 7, 10:00 to 11:00am

Clinic Purpose

In support of the Salem Rotary Riverfest Triathlon we are pleased to offer these free open water swimming clinics in the Willamette River.

You may view the 2019 version of  Triathlon Swim Guide we have create for participants in this particular race to describe the route and give them some idea of how to prepare adequately to handle the demands of this course.

Join our clinics to get acquainted with the sections of the triathlon course, and to practice different aspects of the race experience, including swimming near others, navigation, sighting, turns, swimming against/with/across current, and more.

Guidance on open water technique will be offered, but this is not a swim technique lesson. If you are in need of stroke technique, breathing and fitness training you are warmly welcomed to contact us for information about how we can help you with that.

To Register

To register to attend, please contact Coach Mat at mat@mediterraswim.com or by text to 971.720.5911.

Your registration is appreciated so that our group size can be anticipated. Please provide your name, email, phone number, and note which clinics you plan to attend.

By supplying this information to Coach Mat you agree to be contacted by him a few times over the summer regarding these swim clinics and additional swim coaching services related to this triathlon. 

Need Help Preparing To Swim Open Water?

If you are new to triathlon or new to open water swimming, you may consider studying the ebook we wrote especially for you called A Better Triathlon Swim available in epub and mobi format in our Shop or on Amazon Kindle.

And, we provide patient, skilled instruction for learning to swim and swim better in open water. See your training opportunities with us at the Courthouse Fitness pools.


These clinics are free, provided as a service to the Salem Rotary Riverfest Triathlon and the Willamette Vallay Triathlon Club.

All competent adult swimmers are welcome. You do not need to be a registered participant in the triathlon, nor a member of the triathlon club. But we certainly encourage you to consider those!


Physically fit and capable adult swimmers and swimmers 16 or older accompanied by their parent-swimmer are welcome.

These clinics are suitable for those who are fit and competent in stroke technique to swim continuously for 750 yards. We will focus on open water specific skills such as navigation, turns, and dealing with currents.

This would not be an appropriate time for stroke lessons or for gaining initial fitness to swim such distance.

If you are in need of stroke development or fitness work please seek coaching attention in the pool first. Having a sufficient fitness and technical foundation in place will make your initial open water experience so much safer and pleasant. We would be glad to help you with those needs in the pool – please contact us for more information.

Wetsuit Required?

Wearing a wetsuit or not is up to you.

The first consideration for wearing a wetsuit is temperature and staying safe from hypothermia. A sprint triathlon (750 m swim) may have some people in the water up to 20 minutes or more, and an Olympic distance triathlon (1500 m swim) may be 40 minutes. 

The river temperature fluctuates each day with the heat and sun intensity, and is affected by the recent weather patterns (including those upstream where the water is coming from!). In late June and in mid September the river may be down around 60 degrees, and except for those who train specifically for cold water swimming, most people will need a wetsuit at these low temperatures. In later July and August the water may be up to the low 70’s, which is comfortable for those who are ‘warm blooded’ or use to cooler water.

The intensity of the sun and the air temperature make a big difference on how you feel in the cool water.

The second consideration is, if you intend to race in the wetsuit, you should train in it as much as possible. A wetsuit significantly alters your position in the water and your freedom of movement. When one is not used to swimming in a wetsuit and suddenly races in one, it can be more stressful than you expected. The squeeze of that suit, combined with the shock of cold water can cause some people to slide into anxiety and then into panic. And each year there are some unfortunate cases of cardiac events as well. I don’t mean to scare anyone… at least not too much. But swimming in wild water in natural conditions is a serious situation and requires a responsible approach in order to be safe and enjoyable.

I encourage you to read a couple of our articles on this topic:

If you have any questions about wetsuits or your fitness to handle the conditions, feel free to contact us.

Clinic Agenda

These river clinics are for getting acquainted with the sections of the triathlon course and practicing different aspects of the race experience, including sighting, turns, swimming against/with/across current, and more.

For the first few minutes Coach Mat will interview the swimmers, and point out features on the swim course.

Then we will make an initial 10 minute warm up loop in the calm slough area – you may return to the dock at this point.

After that we will turn upstream to swim against the current for a ways. Swimmers should be fit and competent to swim an additional 750 yards, half of that against a mild current, to proceed past this point.


This is truly wild open water swimming and we are not in control of the natural forces, nor are we in control of the other people and boats who use this water way. So safety must be taken into your own hands.

The first feature of your safety is your own fitness and skill and attention. You participate at your own risk.

The group will swim the course as a group, stopping at certain points along the course to regroup and to survey the next part of the course.

Coach Mat will be escorting the group in a kayak. 

Swimmers are encouraged to use a Swim Safety Buoy – they increase your visibility in the water tremendously. If you plan to train in open water, these are an essential companion.

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