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Charles Bender Memorial Swim and Relay

Fri August 30, 2024 Norristown, PA 19403 US Directions


8 Mile Individual Swim

$105 7:00AM EDT - 1:00PM EDT Price increases after May 31, 2024 at 11:59pm EDT

15K Individual Swim

$125 6:30AM EDT - 1:00PM EDT Price increases after May 31, 2024 at 11:59pm EDT

8 Mile Relay Swim

$145 7:00AM EDT - 1:00PM EDT Price increases after May 31, 2024 at 11:59pm EDT

6 Mile Individual Swim

$90 8:00AM EDT - 1:00PM EDT Price increases after May 31, 2024 at 11:59pm EDT

Fast and Furious 5K Swim, Individual

$95 8:00AM EDT - 10:00AM EDT Price increases after May 31, 2024 at 11:59pm EDT


Welcome to the 10th Annual Charles Bender Memorial Swim and Relay, presented by French Creek Racing!

This swim was created based on an exploratory swim done by 4 men in September 2014: Jesse Kelly, Nabil Radouane, John Kenny, and Charles Bender.  Charles was the race director at our inaugural race, completed in 2015.  This swim is now dedicated to Charles Bender, who died tragically of heart failure in March 2017.  We are excited to have the Bender Family back for the 8th time to honor Charles' memory!

For the 7th consecutive year, this event will be held at 1400 S. Trooper Rd., Norristown, PA.  
Parking and directions: Use the GPS address - 1400 S. Trooper Rd., Norristown, PA 19403.  There is plenty of space available in this parking lot.  From the lot, walk south (away from the Schuylkill River Trail) down the asphalt path toward the river.  After you cross the road, make a left and walk downstream (east) for about 200 yards until you'll see our launch area on your right.  Swimmers and kayakers may drop off equipment at the launch area.  Please keep your loading time to a maximum of 10 minutes.  Absolutely no parking in front of the launch area after 7:00AM.  Upon arrival, check in at our registration table, mark your numbers, and take a cap.

This event features the following races:
1. 8 Mile Swim, The "Classic" distance (Individual or 2-4 Person Relay).  The 8 mile course is a round trip course with half of the swim against the current.  All swimmers must have their own kayaker in their proximity at all times.  If you need us to provide a kayak and paddler, please indicate so on your registration.
2. 15K distance.  With the 422 construction completed, we can now swim past the bridge for over a half mile additional distance, each way.  Same rules apply as with the 8 mile.
3. 6 Mile distance.  Swim to the barge, around, and back.  Same rules apply as with the 8 mile.
3. Fast & Furious 5K.  We will be offering a 5K division, swimming mostly downstream for 5K, finishing at the locally world famous pirate ship/barge of Port Indian.  We will take you back to the starting area by boat as quickly as possible.  You may have to wait up to an hour for your return shuttle, but there are no restrictions on the number of people on the barge this year, so feel free to hang out there as long as you like.  We will have water, heed, and light snacks / race food on the barge.  All 5K swimmers MUST either have their own kayaker, OR wear a New Wave Swim Buoy.

Bender Swim Schedule:
Tuesday 8/27 at 12 Noon - Online registration closes.
Thursday 8/29 - Practice swims available 5-7PM.
Friday 8/30 5:30AM - Swimmers and crew should try to arrive 45-60 minutes before their wave start time.
Friday 8/30 6:30AM - 15K swimmers start, 8 mile swimmers ETA > 5 hours start.
Friday 8/30 7:00AM - 8 mile swimmers start, 4-5 hour estimated finish.
Friday 8/30 7:30AM - 8 mile swimmers start, < 4 hour estimated finish.
Friday 8/30 8:00AM - 5K and 6 mile swimmers start (Start times may change slightly based on the number of racers in each event).
Friday 8/30 1PM - Finish time cutoff.
Friday 8/30  1PM - Awards ceremony.
There are no refunds and no rain date for this event.  Any entries would be deferred to the following year's event, or to another FCR event of your choice.

Custom awards will be given to the top 3 M/F in each race.

All courses start from our launch point approximately located at 1400 S. Trooper Rd., Norristown, PA.  All courses will begin swimming upstream toward Valley Forge National Park (422/Pottstown Expressway bridge).  5K swim will finish heading downstream, exiting on a swim platform.  All other events will finish back at the starting line heading upstream.  All swimmers should follow the channel markers near 93 West Indian Lane (Miles ~1&7, or 2&8 for the 15K).  This is mandatory due to water depth.  Each turnaround point will be marked with a 40" orange buoy.  There may be a noticeable current when swimming west toward Valley Forge.  Swimmers should keep all turn buoys on their left shoulder to make counter-clockwise turns.  All swimmers should keep to the right of other oncoming swimmers.

Please review these course maps for more detail:
15K Course
8 Mile Course
6 Mile Course (5K, out and back, after rounding the barge near the tip of Barbadoes Island)
Fast and Furious 5K will finish at the barge near the tip of Barbadoes Island.

ALL RACERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING THEIR OWN KAYAK SUPPORT, both for safety and for nutritional support. The race director will provide some contacts, but we are not responsible for securing kayaks or kayakers, other than those reserved during registration. Kayak support tipping is suggested and separate from event registration.  French Creek Racing may have our own feed station only as emergency support, but kayakers/swimmers should not rely on this.  All individuals and teams should carry everything they need on their kayaks.  5K swimmers may forgo use of their own kayak if and only if they elect to wear a New Wave Swim Buoy.  We have them available for purchase in advance.  8 Mile Relay Teams are self supported.  You must kayak for your teammate(s), and it is suggested to swap in designated zones, mainly for ease of transition.  Wetsuits will only be allowed if the water temperature is below 68 degrees Farenheit.  Swimmers may be assigned start times in waves based on their seeded/expected finish time.  Slower swimmers should select earlier wave start times.

Cutoff time will be 6 hours, or 1PM, at the latest.  Boat traffic typically picks up in the afternoon, so please seed yourself earlier if you expect to have an issue making the cutoff.  Bags may be left at the starting line, but French Creek Racing is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Restrooms: No restroom facilities onsite.  The nearest restroom facility is at the Betzwood trailhead parking lot, about 600 meters away from our launch site.

If you're interested in volunteering as a kayaker, or for any other job to assist in the production of this event, please contact  You may also Register Here to Volunteer.

There will be NO RACE DAY REGISTRATION!  Online registration closes for all events on Tuesday 8/27 at 12 Noon.

THIS EVENT OCCURS IN A RIVER SUBJECT TO FLOW AND RUNOFF CONDITIONS.  All races will be held rain or shine. Two things will cause the race to be postponed: 1) Lightning in the area, and 2) water quality due to stormwater runoff.  Ultimately, we will make a call by 2 hours prior to the first heat, and email registrants as well as posting it on our Facebook page at that time. If there is light rain during the event, we will still swim.  WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO KEEP YOU INFORMED OF CONDITIONS, BUT DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE RIVER, WE CANNOT GUARANTEE ANY RACE TO BE HELD AT THE TIME INDICATED.  THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND FLEXIBILITY!
NO REFUNDS for any reason, including event cancellation.  If the event is cancelled, we will give you the option to defer your entry to next year's race, or another future FCR event.


Questions? Contact


1400 S. Trooper Rd.
Norristown, PA US 19403

Race Website

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