HAP River Huggers Swim Team


Please fill out a waiver form in advance.


Swimming a lap takes on a whole new meaning with the newly formed Human Access Project River Huggers Swim Team. River Huggers is a group of early risers who together swim a lap across the Willamette River and back before work. This is not designed as an A Type swim group, this is a fun, intermediate level swim.


The group's goal is to swim together as a pod and create public awareness that it is safe to swim in the Willamette River. The River Huggers meet at 05 SE Madison at the Fire Station on the Eastside Esplanade. It takes about 40 minutes to swim across to the west side and back, a 1/4 mile each direction.


The swim is for intermediate level swimmers and above. Safety paddlers will accompany the group to ensure safety. Each swim costs $3 to participate or you can pay $50 for the season.  Swim caps cost $15 and include your first swim!


Please know that this is not a competitive swim; however, it does require intermediate swim skills. Here are a few things to know about our river swims:

How the swim works: We all swim as a group to the west side (Tom McCall Beach) and wait for everyone to arrive, then swim back. You can also get out at the beach and walk back over the Hawthorne Bridge (bring your flip flops: it can be rocky on the beach and no fun to walk across the bridge barefoot). Advanced swimmers can make a second lap if they wish.

When we swim: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 7 a.m. and Tuesday/Thursday after-work swim at 6:00 p.m.

Safety first: We can have someone swim along with you if you'd like. Safety kayakers will be near and ready to come to your aid, should you need a rest. Kayakers give a safety talk before the swim to let you know how to signal them.

Swim gear: Some people feel more comfortable in a wet suit, but many swimmers wear just a swimsuit. Goggles and a brightly colored swim cap are necessary. The Human Access Project has bright green River Hugger swim caps you can purchase for $15 (includes your first swim). Fins can be helpful and are encouraged if you are concerned about being too slow for the group. You will also see swimmers with orange buoy bags (Human Access Project sells these for $50): you can tote your own personal belongings in these, and they make you more visible as well as providing a personal float if you need to rest for a few moments.

Where to find us (online): Look for us on Facebook as the Human Access Project (HAP). You might see our latest swim picture posted (we take one before each swim)! You can also sign up for the next swim (each swim is created as a Facebook event), and see any media or other relevant information.

Want to see more swimmers out there? Tell your friends to join us! The more, the merrier.


Most of all, have fun! This is our swim in our beloved river.


We need volunteer safety paddlers! Every volunteer who comes out to provide eyes on the water for the River Huggers will receive a coupon for a free Chipotle Burrito! Thanks Chipotle! If you or a friend is interested in being a safety paddler please contact safety lead Archie at archie.m.blakey@gmail.com


-River Huggers featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting - http://www.opb.org/news/article/portlands-willamette-once-heavily-polluted-now-home-to-a-swim-team/

-Oregonian covers River Huggers - http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/08/these_people_swim_across_portl.html 

-Willie Levenson on the River Huggers on Intertwine Blog - http://www.theintertwine.org/blog/swim-party-purpose

-KGW-8 and Drew Carney Visit the River Huggers - http://www.kgw.com/videos/entertainment/events/drew-carney/2015/06/24/out-and-about-with-the-river-hugger-swim-team/29209351/

-River Huggers on KATU - http://www.katu.com/news/local/human-access-project-willamette-river-swim-beaches-307352121.html


-For all the latest River Hugger News follow Human Access Project on Facebook

-For information on Willamette River Water Quality click here

-For information on Willamette River Water Temperature click here

Spread the word!  For more information contact archie.m.blakey@gmail.com