Swim | Great Lakes Guide
  • Swim

Swimming in the Great Lakes region is an obvious and must-do activity. The clean, fresh waters of the lakes offer amazing swimming opportunities, whether you are cooling off on a hot summer day, or jumping in and out during a polar bear dip (icy, annual traditions when brave individuals jump into frigid oceans and lakes, often for charity). While the ocean waters are incredible, nothing compares to a swim in these fresh, wave-filled inland seas. Yes, the Great Lakes have waves! Not as intense as ocean waves with the added bonus of no sharks or jellyfish. The region also boasts some incredible sandy and rocky beaches to relax on after a dip. So what are you waiting for? Grab your suit and towel and jump in!

Benefits of swimming

There are so many mental and physical benefits to going outside. Swimming is...

Calming - It can help you feel weightless, relaxed, and immersed in nature
Accessible - There are thousands of lakes and beaches in the Great Lakes region
Social - It is a great way to meet new friends, build communities, and make memories
Healthy - It boosts your immune system, releases endorphins, and improves blood circulation
Exhilarating - Swimming outside makes you feel free! The possibilities are endless
Affordable - Most beaches and lakes are free to swim in
Exercise - It is a great full-body workout that is easy on your joints
Fun - A great way to play for both kids and adults

What to bring swimming


• Swim suit
• Towels
• Sun protection (waterproof sunscreen, sunglasses, hats)


• Snacks
• Water shoes
• Flip flops
• Wetsuit (if you’re worried about the cold)
• Head protection (swim caps, nose clips, ear plugs, goggles)
• Scuba/Snorkeling gear
• Fins/flippers
• Floatation device (life jacket, kickboard, pool noodle, inner tube, giant inflatable swan)

Swimming tips

Before you swim:

• Pack a snack for after your swim. Swimming makes you hungry!
• Check the water quality of your beach in the Swim Guide
• Check the weather
• Find beaches with lifeguards on duty
• Take swimming lessons

While you swim:

• Don’t swim out too far. Gage how far you can swim without getting tired.
• Swim in designated areas
• Drink lots of water
• Be aware of wave height, strength, and currents
• Stay protected from the sun
• Swim with a buddy
• Splash around and have fun!

Grew up on our little sand beach, fishing for panfish, swimming, boating and beachcombing. It was a clean, safe, fun place to get healthy outdoor experience.

Red Horse Lake, ON
Nancy Shaw
St. Lawrence River Watershed