Undeterred by the distance (1.1 miles) or water temperature (average of 69 degrees), almost 500 hardy swimmers from around the world will again take the plunge this Labor Day during Hood River’s 72nd annual Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim.
The event got its start when a local orchardist with a passion for swimming, Roy Webster, decided to challenge himself by swimming across the channel. In the 72 years since, thousands of other swimmers have taken the same challenge and opportunity to swim across this iconic river safely, thanks to the creation of a special swim lane lined by volunteers.
At sunrise on Sept. 1, the swimmers will board the famous Sternwheeler paddleboat on the south shore of the Columbia River at the Hood River Port and will be ferried across the river to the Washington State shore. When signaled, the participants jump off the boat in pre-assigned flights of 10 and start swimming their way back to Hood River. To help them find their way, a special swim lane created by volunteers in sailboats, kayaks and paddleboards are there to guide, encourage, offer relief and protect swimmers as they cross the channel.
Swimmers begin jumping from the boat in pre-assigned flights of 10 at 7:45 a.m. The first swimmers reach the Hood River shore at 8:15 a.m., at Best Western Plus Hood River Inn.
Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim Fun Facts:
- Distance of jump from the Sternwheeler to the Columbia River: 7 feet
- Number of swimmers registered for 2014 swim: 490
- Oldest and youngest swimmers in past swims: 80 and 10 years old
- Consecutive years in a row that one swimmer has participated: 41
- Average swim time: 40-60 minutes