River Hugger Swim Team

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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. We swim together as a pod and create public awareness that it's safe to swim in the Willamette River. Portland Parks & Recreation estimates only 5% of the central city currently has access to the water's edge.

The River Hugger Swim Team typically swims from mid-June until water temperatures fall below 63 degrees.
All swims start at the Fire Station 21 Dock on the Eastside Esplanade - 05 SE Madison St., Portland, OR.

Monday - Friday, the swim crosses the Willamette River - taking off from the Fire Department dock, and swimming under the bridge over to Tom McCall Park and back. Advanced swimmers are welcome to take a second lap. Each lap is approximately 1/2 mile in length. There are two swim times each weekday morning: 7:00am and 7:45am

On Saturdays, the swim stays parallel to the eastern shore and goes down to the Morrison Bridge and back. The lap is approximately 2/3 mile in length. The Saturday swim start time is 9:00am.

Each day's swim(s) opens for registration at 4pm on the prior day, and will remain open for registration until the swim maximum of 25 swimmers is reached.

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. "On time" is a minimum of 10-15 minutes before the stated start time of the swim. Our goal is to be in the water at 7:00/7:45 M-F, or at 9:00 on Saturdays.

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 will be assigned a Swim Angel for their first River Hugger swim. Swim Angels are River Hugger Captains or long-time Huggers who will swim with a newcomer on their first River Hugger 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. The cost for returning swimmers is $5 per swim.

All participants must wear a brightly colored swim cap (not pink), must use a swim buoy and can not wear ear plugs so it is easier to hear instructions from safety paddlers.

Swim buoys can be purchased from our website during swim registrations.