River Hugger Swim Team

All proceeds benefit the not-for-profit organization Human Access Project !

Item What you get: Cost
  • Swim Team Season Pass
  • One Day Swim Team Pass
Required for first Hugger Swim
  • One Day Swim Pass
  • River Hugger Swim Cap
I just want to buy merch

Have a Promo Code? Enter it here.


If you can swim a mile in 45 minutes in a pool without stopping, you can swim in the Willamette River with the Human Access Project River Huggers Swim Team.

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.

The River Huggers Swim Team meets five days a week for our recreational swims. We swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting at 7 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.

The Tuesday and Thursday swims take place at 6 PM sharp. These swims do not cross the Willamette River. This route, which is a little over 1/3 mile each way, also starts at the Fire Station Dock. Swimmers hug the shoreline and go to the Morrison Bridge. This out-and-back swim, which totals just over 1/2 mile, typically takes between 25-30 minutes. Advanced swimmers can do a second lap to get in a 1+-mile swim.

Safety paddlers will accompany swimmers for all morning and evening 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 swim, unless they have competed in a USMS-sanctioned open water competition. The cost for the first time River Hugger swim with a buddy 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 and must use a swim buoy. Swim buoys are available for rent for $5 or can be purchased for $30.
Additionally, we require new swimmers to complete a Buddy Swim their first swim with the team, unless they have competed in a USMS sanctioned open water competition. The fee for first time River Huggers is $15 the first Buddy Swim and includes a River Hugger cap, and the use of a swim safety buoy, if you do not have one.