HAP River Huggers Swim Team


If you can swim a mile in 45 minutes without stopping, you can swim in the Willamette River with the Human Access Project River Huggers Swim Team. River Huggers swim a lap or two across the Willamette River, MWF mornings, and TTH evenings, June-September. This is not designed as a competitive swim group, it is a fun, intermediate level swim, allowing wet suits and fins.


The group's goal is to swim together as a pod and create public awareness that it is safe to swim in the Willamette River. The River Huggers meet at 05 SE Madison at the Fire Station on the Eastside Esplanade. It takes 30-40 minutes to swim across to the west side and back, a 1/4 mile each direction.


Safety paddlers will accompany the group. Each swim costs $5 to participate or you can pay $60 for the season.  Whistles, swim buoys, goggles and bright caps are safety requirements.


Please know that this is not a competitive swim; however, it does require intermediate swim skills. Here are a few things to know about our river swims:


How the swim works: We all swim as a group to the west side (Tom McCall Beach) and wait for everyone to arrive, then swim back. Advanced swimmers can make a second lap if they wish.

When we swim: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 7 a.m. and Tuesday/Thursday swim at 6:00 p.m.

Safety first: Safety kayakers will be near and ready to come to your aid. Kayakers go over the Safety Plan before the swim to let you know how to signal them. All swimmers will be required to wear goggles, a bright cap, and a swim buoy with a whistle. Whistles are $2, or are free if you sign up online for the season for $60. 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.


How to sign up: All swimmers are required to sign a WAIVER, and watch the SAFETY VIDEO by clicking on the links at the top of this page. Please fill out the WAIVER and watch the SAFETY VIDEO, then click on the black River Hugger logo in the right side bar, which will take you to the River Hugger Store, and you can pay $60 for the season, or pay $15 for a cap and Buddy Swim, you can also purchase a Swim Bouy for $30. Please contact Janie@humanaccessproject to schedule a Buddy Swim. 


Swim gear: Some people feel more comfortable in a wet suit, but many swimmers wear just a swimsuit. Fins can be helpful and are encouraged if you are concerned about being too slow for the group. Swim buoy bags can tote your belongings, and they make you more visible as well as providing a personal float if you need to rest for a few moments. Swim gear can be purchased at the River Hugger Store.

Where to find us (online): Look for us on Facebook as the Human Access Project (HAP). You might see our latest swim picture posted (we take one before each swim)! You can also sign up for the next swim (each swim is created as a Facebook event), and see any media or other relevant information.

Want to see more swimmers out there? Tell your friends to join us! The more, the merrier.


Most of all, have fun! This is our swim in our beloved river.


We need safety paddlers! If you or a friend is interested in being a safety paddler please contact Janie@humanaccessproject.com


-River Huggers featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting - http://www.opb.org/news/article/portlands-willamette-once-heavily-polluted-now-home-to-a-swim-team/

-Oregonian covers River Huggers - http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/08/these_people_swim_across_portl.html 

-Willie Levenson on the River Huggers on Intertwine Blog - http://www.theintertwine.org/blog/swim-party-purpose

-KGW-8 and Drew Carney Visit the River Huggers - http://www.kgw.com/videos/entertainment/events/drew-carney/2015/06/24/out-and-about-with-the-river-hugger-swim-team/29209351/

-River Huggers on KATU - http://www.katu.com/news/local/human-access-project-willamette-river-swim-beaches-307352121.html



-For all the latest River Hugger News follow Human Access Project on Facebook


-For information on Willamette River Water Quality click here


-For information on Willamette River Water Temperature click here


Spread the word!  More questions?  Contact janie@humanaccessproject.com