Event Information for Fontana Lake 5K, 10K, 15K

1st Annual Fontana Lake 
5K, 10K, 15K Open Water Race
Saturday, July 20, 2019
Almond, North Carolina (near Bryson City)


We need volunteers for safety kayakers, 
check-in, medals, water, etc.
Please help if you can! Thank you for your support!
Event Director
David Miner: 941-545-9709

Safety Director
Steve Butler: 941-376-3524

USMS Sanction 139-W001

5K, 10K, 15K SOLO
15K (3x5K) 3-Person RELAY TEAM
About the Race

The beautiful Fontana Lake offers an amazing venue for a 5K, 10K, and 15K open water race. The 5K loop swim course starts where the lake meets the Tsali Mountain Biking Trail Head parking lot and beach area. From the beach, swimmers will make their way out one of the lake’s fingers, around a point, across an open stretch of water to an island. With the island on the swimmers’ left shoulder, they will make there way around the island, back across the open stretch of water and into the finger leading back to the beach and start area. Swimmers doing the 5K will complete one lap. Swimmers doing the 10K will complete two laps and 15K swimmers will complete three laps turning for another lap around a special turn buoy near the beach. There is also an option for swimmers to join together in a 3-person relay team to tackle the 15K course with each swimmer completing one lap (5K).

Expected water temperature: 73-80F

About Fontana Lake

In western North Carolina, in the mountains of the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, lies the beautiful 17-mile long Fontana Lake. Created by the Fontana Dam located on the Little Tennessee River, Fontana Lake has many coves and many islands formed from former mountain peaks. Depending on water levels, the average depth is 135 feet with a maximum depth of 440 feet, making it the deepest lake in North Carolina.

Eligibility and Registration

The race is open to all members of U.S. Masters Swimming.  Adults who are not current members of U.S. Masters Swimming may pay for a one-day membership during the online entry process; the one-day membership fee is $20 (in addition to the event entry fee).

Relay team adults who are not current members of U.S. Masters Swimming may pay for a one-day membership during the online entry process; the one-day membership fee is $20 (in addition to the event entry fee).

Entry fee and registration:

**Registration is Open**

5K Solo Swim: $75
10K Solo Swim: $125
15K Solo Swim: $175
15K 3-person Relay Team (3 x 5K): $225
Register NOW!

Entry fee provides the following:
  • Safety boats and kayakers for course monitoring
  • Feeding/drink/aid stations on the course (two)
  • Excellent meal and beer at the post race social and awards ceremony at the NOC outpost in Wesser, NC along the Nantahala River (see below)
  • Live band at the post race social
  • Fontana Lake official race T-shirt
  • Finishers medal for all swimmers finishing the swim
  • Goodie bag with cool stuff from our sponsors
Online registration will be open until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 14, 2019. NO RACE DAY ENTRIES. Online entries are paid by credit card to "ClubAssistant.com Events."

NO REFUNDS: If you can’t participate in the race for any reason or there are dangerous weather conditions and we have to cancel the race, there are no refunds, transfers, or deferrals for any reason. The cost of the event is fixed and the money has been spent come race day.

Post Race Social, Awards, and Results

Our post race social and awards ceremony will take place on the Nantahala Outdoor Center's main campus in Wesser, NC. Food, beer, and a live band will be served from 5:30-9:30pm. Awards will take place during this social. You don't want to miss this beautiful location along the Nantahala River in the Nantahala Gorge!

  • Finishers medal for each swimmer and relay team who completes the swim.
  • Solo swimmers: Awards will be given to the top five male and top five female swimmers for all three races.
  • 15K 3-Person Relay teams: Awards will be given to the overall top five
  • All awards will be presented during the post race social at the NOC campus.
  • Results will be available on this website shortly after the race.

Event location & directions

Race venue start/finish address
8105 Tsali Rd, Almond, NC 28702

Post race social and awards ceremony address
Nantahala Outdoor Center, 13077 W Hwy 19, Bryson City, NC 28713

Directions to race venue
From Bryson City: Take U.S. 19 south for 9 miles to NC 28 west. Turn right on NC 28. Go 5 miles and look for sign on right.

From Knoxville, TN: Take U.S. 129 south through Maryville. Stay on U.S. 129 to Deals Gap. Take left onto NC 28 east. Sign is 25 miles on left.

From Asheville, NC: Take I-40 west to exit 27 onto U.S. 19/74. Stay on U.S. 74 west to NC 28 west. Turn right and go 5 miles, look for sign on right.
About the Area and Our Main Sponsor Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC.com)

Awesome Adventures Await!
Don’t just come for the swim but stay and enjoy all of the adventures that await you in this beautiful part of the country!
Being a destination location only minutes from Bryson City, North Carolina, the Smokey Mountain National Park, beautiful rivers and other National Forests, this area offers adventures ranging from whitewater rafting and kayaking to mountain biking, hiking, flat water paddling, mountain zip lining, and open water swimming. The Fontana Lake surrounding towns provide a mecca for outdoor adventure all through our sponsor the NOC. 

Get Your NOC 15% discount on rafting, zip lining, and flat water kayaking
All participants can get 15% off on rafting, zip lining, and flat water kayaking. Just book your adventure at
NOC.com and extend your trip for some epic adventures.
Discount code: SWIM

Rules, Details, and Important Information

  • ALL SWIMMERS MUST attend the pre-race safety meeting, which will be held on race day morning just prior to the race starting.
  • 15K swimmers cut off time: You must be able to complete the swim in UNDER 6 HOURS. This means if there is ZERO current, you should be able to swim 1 open water mile in about 38 minutes. If you’re not within the final 500 yards of the swim within 6 hours, you may be pulled by the safety boats and shuttled to the finish line.
  • Swimwear/Wetsuit Rules: Solo swimmers have the option to enter either the non-wetsuit division or the wetsuit division. Expected water temperature is 73-80F. 15K relay teams have the option to enter either the non-wetsuit division or the wetsuit division. NOTE: If any team member on the relay team is wearing a wetsuit, the team MUST enter the wetsuit division. NO TEAM MEMBER can wear a wetsuit to enter the non-wetsuit division as a team. 
    Non-wetsuit division: The race will follow USMS swimming rules for Category 1 swimwear, meaning no wetsuits.
    Wetsuit division: The race will follow USMS swimming rules for Category 2 swimwear, meaning wetsuits are allowed.
  • Feeding stations: There will be two anchored boats providing water, carbo drinks, and gels. All swimmers should consider having extra gels in their suits for use when needed, especially those doing the 10K and 15K swims.
  • 15K Relay Teams: At the turn-around buoy is where you’re going to make the exchange to your next swimmer. The person swimming must swim past the buoy, make contact with the next swimmer, and then exit the water. The new swimmer must swim past the buoy and then out onto the course.
  • You cannot hang or rest on any of the safety boats, even when getting water from a feeding station.
  • No use of lower extremities to rest on or push off of the bottom of the lake to gain an advantage.
  • Swim caps and body marking will be provided which must be worn throughout the race.
  • If you have any questions about your ability to swim this event, please contact the race director

Local Accommodations

There is no official race hotel. There are many options for staying in this area from basic motels to beautiful log cabin rentals to camping. 

  • NOC Cabins/Bunk House/Cabin Tents: 828-785-5082
  • Fontana Village Resort: 800-849-2258 website
  • Nantahala Village Resort: 828-488-9000 website
  • Sleep Inn Bryson: 828-488-0326
  • The Everett Hotel: 828-488-1976
  • Calhoun House Inn & Suites: 828-788-0505
  • Microtel Inn & Suites: 828-488-7900
  • Relax Inn: 828-488-2127
  • Riverbend Lodging: 828-488-9476
  • Bryson City Cabin Rentals: 888-483-3630
  • Almond Boat & RV Park Cabins (on Fontana Lake): 828-488-6423 website
  • Watershed Estates: 888-604-3075
  • Carolina Mountain Vacations: 828-488-7500

  • Turkey Creek: 828-488-8966
  • Smoky Mountain Meadows: 828-488-3672

Race Day Event Schedule -TENTATIVE

Saturday, July 20
7:00-8:00 AM: Swimmer check-in and body marking

8:00-8:30 AM: MANDATORY pre-race safety meeting for ALL swimmers
8:30-8:40 AM: 15K swimmers/relays final check-in
8:45 AM: 15K solo and relay teams race start
8:45-8:55 AM: 10K swimmers final check-in
9:00 AM: 10K solo race start
9:00-9:10 AM: 5K swimmers final check-in
9:15 AM: 5K solo race start
2:45-3:30 PM: Event finishes and clean-up
5:30-9:30 PM: Post race food/beer, LIVE band (Soul Talk), and awards social at the NOC main campus along the Nantahala River