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Seattle Parks and Recreation

Open Water Swimming

 

BEACH DISTANCES

Want to know how far you swam?
Madison Beach Scale Map
Madison Beach
Magnuson Beach scale map
Magnuson Beach
Mt Baker Beach scale map
Mt Baker Beach
West Green Lake Beach scale map
West Green Lake Beach
Madrona Beach scale map
Madrona Beach
Matthews Beach scale map
Matthews Beach
Seward Park Beach scale map
Seward Park Beach

SWIMMING REGULATIONS

Municipal code regulates swimming along shorelines in Seattle. There are two sections of the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) that address this activity. SMC 16.28.010 indicates that swimming is prohibited except:
  1. in designated swimming areas

  2. within 50 feet from shore, unless the swimmer is accompanied by a boat which is within 25 feet of the swimmer

SMC 18.12.180 states that watercraft cannot operate within 75 feet of a swimming beach, and powered watercraft cannot operate within 300 feet of a swimming beach.

To maintain a clearly defined swimming beach, lifeguards discourage swimming immediately outside the lifeguarded area. In the interest of public safety, there is need to maintain a defined perimeter buffer of 75 feet from the swimming area on Green Lake and 150 feet from the swimming areas on Lake Washington. These perimeters are established in SMC 18.12.040 under the Superintendent's rulemaking authority.

Swimming within 50 feet of shore is consistent with the law. Wading or swimming at a distance away from the swimming beach would not have an impact on the operation of the lifeguarded area. The lifeguarded swimming beaches offer maintained bottom conditions, are free of aquatic weeds, and do not have boat traffic, all of which are possible concerns in other parts of the parks.

Lifeguards do not want to push open water swimmers out into boating traffic; they will allow swimmers to pass through the beach area if necessary, but will talk with them about the boundaries of the lifeguarded swimming beach and remind them about the 50 feet from shore rule (SMC 16.28.010), which is near the shallow water piling line at most beaches.

HARBOR PATROL

The Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol is a specialized unit dedicated to water safety and the protection and preservation of life and property on the waters within the City of Seattle. Using the latest technology in water emergency, dive response, and fire suppression equipment, the seven Harbor Patrol boats cover 200 miles of City shoreline, 147 miles of freshwater and 53 miles of saltwater.

In times of distress, contact the Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol by calling 911, or VHF channel 16. For regular service and general inquires, contact the Harbor Patrol directly at 206-684-4071.


 
Updated April 11, 2014

CLASSES & PROGRAMS

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10th ANNUAL GREEN LAKE OPEN WATER SWIM

Sunday, June 29, 2014
at 9 a.m.

Swimmers can choose mile or mile course.
» more

30th ANNUAL
EMERALD CITY
OPEN WATER SWIM

The Open Water Swim will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at Seward Park.
» more

Open Water Swim Logo


» First Open Water Swim? Read up on some tips here.
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