Hello! My name is Marlaina and I'm going to attempt to swim the length of the Gorge Waterway "the Gorge" in Victoria in support of the Gorge Swim Fest Society.
Why the Gorge Swim Fest Society?
I live in Squamish now, but I'm originally from Victoria and spent the first 20+ years of my life there. The Gorge used to be a less-than-desirable place for swimming thanks to some nearby industry and pollution. In recent years, a lot of work has been done to clean up the waterway and make it safe and beautiful for swimming, recreation, and enjoyment for all. The Gorge is now the cleanest and warmest open water swimming spot in Greater Victoria and it is vitally important to keep it clean.
The Gorge Swim Fest Society is a non-profit society that not only hosts the annual swimming festival (except for COVID times of course) on the Gorge, but supports initiatives that sustain the health, awareness, and vitality of the Gorge. Your donation will help them forward this mission.
Check out the full details of what they do and who they are at their website here.
About the Swim
The swim is about 6 kilometers in length, extending from Portage Inlet in Saanich to Victoria Harbour. The toughest and riskiest part of the swim will be making it through the Tillicum Narrows where the Tillicum Road Bridge crosses the Gorge. At this location, the entire Gorge Waterway squeezes through a mere 45 foot-wide channel. As the tides go in and out, this can mean some significant rapids, standing waves, and currents of up to 9 knots (17km/h)! In fact, these rapids can go one way during the flood tide and the other way during the ebb tide, all in a single day!
For me, I'll attempt this swim at slack tide, that is the time when the water is going neither in nor out. At this special time, currents should be minimal and hopefully the Tillicum Narrows will allow me safe passage. Safety is my #1 priority, so I will get out and walk around if the conditions are not favourable for a safe swim.
I'll have kayak support thanks to the fine folks at Victoria Kayak . They'll be there to help me navigate the Narrows, feed me snacks, and keep me visible and safe from motorized boat traffic. Otherwise, I'll plan to complete the entire swim without touching the boat or any other aid or floatation devices, and wearing only typical pool swimming gear (swimsuit, cap, goggles, earplugs).
How to Support
You can support this initiative in a few ways:
(1) Make a donation to this page. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Gorge Swim Fest Society. Donations will be open until the end of July 2021.
(2) Like the GSFS Facebook page and share their mission with your friends
(3) Come cheer me on during the afternoon of Monday, July 19th. More detailed itinerary forthcoming