River Hugger Swim Team

2021 Swim Season is over for the year.

See you in 2022!

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The River Hugger Swim Team swims June 15 until water temperatures fall below 63 degrees. 

The morning swims cross the Willamette River and back; advanced swimmers are welcome to take a second lap.  The Saturday swim will alternate between swimming to the Morrision Bridge and back. The team is currently swimming at 7:15 am Monday-Friday and at 9:00 am Saturdays.

Covid protocols - Masks area now mandatory in outdoor settings. Swimmers will be masked and maintain social distance as much as possible on the dock and in the water. Masks are not required in the water while swimming. To be eligible to swim with the River Huggers you must either be vaccinated or have an exception. Registration includes an opportunity to choose one of these options. We will start the season by limiting groups to 25 but will adjust up or down and other procedures based on the most up to date CDC and State of Oregon guidelines.

The Huggers meet at the Station 21 Fire House on the Eastside Esplanade, near Hawthorne Bridge on time for a mandatory safety talk before swimming. It takes 25-30 minutes to swim across to the west side and back, 1/4 mile each direction.

The River Hugger Swim Team is organized by the not-for-profit organization the Human Access Project. The mission of the Human Access Project is to "Transform Portland's relationship with the Willamette River." The River Hugger Swim Team is a recreational protest swim aimed to bring attention to the extreme deficit of water-edge access in downtown Portland. Portland Parks & Recreation estimates only 5% of the central city currently has access to the water's edge.

The River Hugger Swim Team's goal is to swim together as a pod and create public awareness that it's safe to swim in the Willamette River. All swims start at the Fire Station 21 Dock on the Eastside Esplanade — 05 SE Madison St., Portland, OR.

For the summer of 2021 the River Hugger Swim Team will meet five days a week for our recreational swims. We swim mornings Monday - Friday mornings starting at 7 AM and 7:45 AM sharp. The morning lap, which is 1/4 mile in distance, crosses the Willamette River — swimmers go under the Hawthorne Bridge and head to the Tom McCall Bowl on the west side. This out-and-back swim totals 1/2 mile and typically takes 20-25 minutes. Advanced swimmers can do a second lap to get in a 1-mile swim.

Safety paddlers will accompany swimmers for all morning swims. Please know that this is not a competitive swim; however, it does require intermediate swim skills. Slower swimmers are encouraged to wear fins; wetsuits are allowed, but not required.

Experience in open water swimming is highly recommended, but not required. Participants must have intermediate swimming skills or better. This means you are able to swim 1 mile in 45 minutes in a pool without stopping.

All new participants are required to swim with a River Hugger Captain or a Swim Angel for their first chaperoned swim. The cost for the first time, chaperoned River Hugger Angel Swim is $15 — this includes a River Hugger swim cap and the use of a swim safety buoy, if you do not have one.

All participants must wear a brightly colored swim cap, must use a swim buoy and can not wear ear plugs so it is easier to hear instructions from safety paddlers. Swim buoys are available for rent for $5 or can be purchased for $40.

* NOTE: For a couple of reasons, we ask that you do NOT wear pink swim caps.