Cross Channel will be the top current event for Labor Day.
The Roy Webster Cross Channel Swim, an eight-decade Hood River tradition, moves to Cascade Locks on Sept. 2.
Chamber of Commerce announced plans this spring to move the swim from Hood River, and on Wednesday confirmed that the Port of Cascade Locks will be host site instead of Best Western Plus Hood River Inn.
The swim, one of chamber’s major events, is sold out.
The Coast Guard has approved a preliminary permit for the event, pending final approval of the route. It has been initially estimated at 1.2 miles (compared to the .9-mile distance in Hood River). The final decision on the route has yet to be determined, according to chamber officials.
On Saturday, a team literally tested the waters, making the swim from a potential anchor point near the Washington shore and swimming across to the Cascade Locks marina beach, accompanied by Hood River County Marine Deputy Curtis Kowal in the sheriff’s boat. The swimmers included Kelli Dunn, Hood River high school water polo coach, and Curtis Huckaby, Clint Bogard and Mark Frost, all of Hood River.
Kate Schroeder, chamber interim director, said the marina beach and other facilities and amenities at the Port of Cascade Locks “are tailor-made for the event,” with easier embarking for the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, which carries the 500 swimmers across the Columbia to the point (to be determined) where they jump in and swim to Cascade Locks. Swimmers can board directly at the Sternwheeler dock, rather than the past system of shuttles taking them from the south side of the Hood River marina to the boat dock on the north jetty.
According to Schroeder, other advantages are a better exit point from the water, increased spectator area, and close-in parking for volunteers. Marine Park also has ample parking for swimmers and supporters, she said.
The water safety fleet that accompanies swimmers from jump-off from the Sternwheeler is led by the water polo team, Sheriff’s deputies and other experienced water recreationalists.
“We’re hoping to get lots of volunteer support,” Schroeder said, including reaching out to Skamania County Sheriff’s Office. (In the past, the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office had also provided support.)
“With the new location, we will triple-down on safety,” Schroeder said.