Saturday Group Swim (2021-05-22)
Our official Saturday morning ocean swim.
Time and Place
This weekly swim typically takes place at the east side of Nexen Beach (also known as Newport Beach or Oceanfront Peninsula) near the mouth of the Blind Channel. Occasionally, the tides or other factors don’t allow for favourable conditions, and we may move this swim elsewhere with a minimum of 24 hours notice. We will meet at 7:45-7:50am and plan to be in the water by 8:00am. Please allow yourself a few minutes to park, get ready, and sign in before the mandatory safety briefing at 7:55am sharp. If you miss the safety briefing at 7:55am you will not be allowed to swim with us. See below for additional location and parking info.
The beach is bound by a rocky point to the south, and a semi-permanent log boom to the north. We will swim parallel to the beach between these two points. You can choose your distance and level of difficulty by swimming part of a lap, a full lap, or multiple laps. Each full lap is about 500m return. If you’re more of a dipper, you can just enjoy the cool water close to the beach.
You may swim as long as you like, but everyone must sign out by 9:15am.
There are no lifeguards at this beach, and there may be unmarked hazards present. This part of the Howe Sound sees a fair amount of boat traffic, but our specific area is close enough to the beach that we shouldn’t be swimming in the boating area. However, there are no rules saying they cannot enter our swim area. There may also be paddlers, kitesurfers, or other users. Swimming wild is an amazing experience, but it’s not without risk. This is how we manage it:
- We swim within our own abilities, and need to be honest with ourselves about our abilities if we decide to venture out of our depth. We may stay close to shore in case anything goes wrong. We want to be out of the water long before we get too cold or exhausted
- We swim with a buddy, and check in regularly to see how each other is doing
- We each carry a whistle. If anything happens, we can signal for help
- We each wear a brightly-coloured swim cap (such as our SWS member cap!). This makes us easy to spot. A brightly-coloured tow float is also highly recommended, and can be great to hold on to when having a break in the deep water
- We will sign in before the safety briefing and sign out before we leave. If we don’t sign out, the volunteers will call us, then our emergency contact, then the first responders. This is incredibly important to make sure we can account for everyone.
- We will have a first aid kit and at least one person trained in first aid present at every swim. However, this first aid person may be in the water and will not necessarily be able to respond promptly
Each swimmer is responsible for their own choice of gear, but here are some suggestions:
- A swimsuit or swim apparel of choice (no judgement)
- A wetsuit (optional)
- A brightly-coloured swim cap or hat (mandatory)
- A loud whistle (mandatory)
- Goggles and ear plugs (optional)
- A brightly-coloured tow-float (recommended)
Once you get out of the water, you might want:
- A large towel or two
- A mat or extra towel for standing on while getting changed
- A dry-robe, towel robe, or just a big towel for getting changed under
- Loose clothing that’s easy to pull on when you’re slightly damp. Buttons, dippers, or other fussy things that are difficult to use with numb fingers are not recommended
- Water shoes, crocs, or flip flops
- A warm drink
Getting Here and Parking
We chose this location because it’s easily accessible by foot, bike, or car. The Oceanfront Loop trail takes you from downtown (near the Howe Sound Brewpub) right to the beach and is a lovely walk or bike. However, the access across the main Nexen Beach may be blocked during construction. Updates are posted by the developer here. You can also drive, bike, or walk down Galbraith Avenue. This road can get quite pot-holed at times, but is doable in a 2WD vehicle with a little care and attention.
There is lots of free parking along the waterfront, though there is some development happening which means the exact parking location may change from day-to-day. If the gate is open, drive right to the waterfront area and turn immediately left to park. If not, park anywhere along the left (east) side of the road where appropriate. We meet along the sandy beach here.
About the Location
This beach has an absolutely stunning backdrop of the Siyám Smánit (Stawamus Chief). Its mostly sandy bottom gets deeper gradually as you travel away from shore. There can be some logs and other hazards beneath the surface, but water conditions are typically clear enough to see them coming. Conditions tend to be relatively calm and sheltered from the wind, but Squamish is known for its wind! Water temperatures vary from 5C in the winter to around 17C in the summer. In the spring and summer time, this location can be a bit colder than other ocean locations since there is a lot of fresh water entering the ocean in this part of the Howe Sound.
There are port-o-potties near the beach, but no flush toilets or handwashing facilities. There may or may not be toilet paper, so consider bringing your own toilet kit with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There are also no change rooms or showers, so you’ll want to come dressed and ready to swim.