2018 River Hugger Registration
River Hugger Swim Team – Participation Memo

The River Hugger Swim Team is organized by the not for profit organization Human Access Project. Human Access Project's mission is to "Transform Portland's Relationship with the Willamette River”. The River Hugger Swim Team is a recreational protest swim to bring attention to the extreme deficit of water edge access in downtown Portland. Portland Parks & Recreation estimates only 5% of the Central City currently has access to the water’s edge. The meetup for the River Hugger Swim Team is the Station 21 Fire House Dock.

There is a morning swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and an evening swim Tuesday and Thursday. The morning lap crosses the Willamette River, a 1/4 mile across, and a 1/4 back. It starts from the Fire House Dock on the eastside, goes under the Hawthorne Bridge and crosses the Willamette River to the Tom McCall Bowl on the westside, and it typically takes 20-25 minutes to get over and back. Advanced swimmers have the option of a second lap for a full mile swim. The Tuesday, Thursday evening swims do not cross the Willamette River. It is a swim from the Fire House Dock to the Morrison Bridge, this swim is a little over a 1/3 mile each direction and hugs the shoreline for safety. Safety paddlers will accompany swimmers during both morning and evening swims.

Experience in open water swimming is highly recommended but not required. Participants must have intermediate swimming skills, or better – meaning the ability to swim a mile in 45 minutes in a pool. All new participants are required to swim their first swim with a Captain or Swim Buddy. Slower swimmers are encouraged to wear fins, and wetsuits are allowed but not required. All participants must wear a brightly colored cap. All participants must use a swim buoy (available for rent for $5 or $30 to purchase).

When: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00am (toes in the water) to 8:00am; as well as every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.

Where: Fire Station 21 Madison Dock on the Esplanade (05 SE Madison Street). There is plenty of parking on SE Madison. We suggest you keep valuables hidden from view.

Cost: $5 per swim or $60 for the season (there were a total of 60 swims in 2017). River Hugger Swim Caps are available for $15, which includes the price of your first swim. All funds go to support the Human Access Project.

Contact Janie at janie@humanaccessproject.com if you have any questions or would like to volunteer as a safety paddler. All safety paddlers will receive a buy one get one Free Chipotle Burrito card and lots of river karma.


Before swimming in the Willamette River with the “River Hugger Swim Team”, you are required to read the River Hugger Participation Memo and sign this agreement:

1. I am over the age of 18 years, or have had my parents or guardian sign a waiver (youth wavier available upon request). I have read the River Hugger Participation Memo and represent I satisfy the criteria described within. I am a competent swimmer, capable of completing a mile of continuous swimming in under 45 minutes.

2. I am aware that swimming is inherently dangerous with risks of drowning and death. I am aware that swimming in the Willamette River involves risks, known and unknown, including but not limited to: risks due to tides, currents and debris, and, collision with watercraft.

3. I am aware there is no lifeguard monitoring the River Hugger swims, and there are limited safety precautions in place for my swim. I will not enter the water if I am unsure of my condition and ability. I shall not swim or enter the water if feeling unwell.

4. I agree to wear a brightly colored swim hat at all times while in the water.

5. I agree to use a swim buoy when I swim.

6. I agree that in the event I get into difficulty during a swim session I shall roll on to my back and signal for rescue by raising either the left or right arm in the air.

7. I agree I will provide the appropriate contact details in the event of emergency, which will be kept by Human Access Project.

8. I understand I am required to arrive 15 before start time to attend the safety meeting prior to each swim.

9. I understand the importance of check-in and check-out, and my contacts and 911 will be contacted immediately if I do not check-out, after attempting to contact me once.

10. I will not purposely enter into the space of the other water users.

11. I agree to take full responsibility for my belongings while participating with the River Hugger Swim Team, and acknowledge that the River Hugger Swim Team or Human Access Project is not liable for the loss, damage or theft of any of my belongings. I agree to remove litter on the dock and surrounding area before and after the swim, and will not leave any debris behind.

12. It is my responsibility to have the correct insurance to cover against any injuries or losses I may incur while participating in the River Hugger Swim Team swim. I agree neither the River Hugger Swim Team or Human Access Project are to be held responsible for any injuries or damages connected to my participation in any swim, and I waive any claims of liability against them in connection with any swim.

13. I acknowledge my legal responsibility not to put myself or others at risk due to my own actions or omissions.

14. I have watched the River Hugger Safety Video and reviewed the safety procedures on the River Hugger Swim Team Page of the Human Access Project website.

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