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Open Water Swimming
SWIMMING REGULATIONSMunicipal 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:
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.
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.
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Updated September 30, 2013
CLASSES & PROGRAMS
10th ANNUAL GREEN LAKE OPEN WATER SWIM
Sunday, June 29, 2014
OPEN WATER SWIM
The Open Water Swim will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at Seward Park.
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