Latest wave of Gorge Swim Fest

Celebrate local waterway at fourth annual festival

With warm, dry weather over the last few months, more and more people are taking advantage of the cleanest, warmest and closest swimming hole in the region – the Gorge.

To celebrate the waterway’s family-friendly nature, the fourth annual Gorge Swim Fest takes place from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 9 at Banfield Park in Vic West, Esquimalt Gorge Park and Curtis Point in Saanich.

[Swimming in the Gorge] has been done probably for 140 years back,” said Gorge Swim Fest co-chair Jack Meredith. “In the 1800s the Gorge swimming hole was a vacation spot for people. Back then it was the outskirts of town. People used to flock to it, there’s tons of pictures from the 1800s with people lining the shores for swimming races and picnics.”

After the Crystal Pool was built, outdoor swimming fell out of fashion and slowly the Gorge became a place for people to dump unwanted items.

“It got a bad reputation, there was pollution from a sawmill down there – it was not great,” said Meredith.

It was only through the “heroic efforts” of environmental advocate John Roe who prompted the cleanup of the waterway in the 1990s that the Gorge began to earn a new reputation.

“Through a variety of efforts they held an open water race from the Tillicum Bridge to the Empress and back,” he said. The 10-kilometre race celebrated the return of regular swimming in the Gorge.

After the turn of this century, the yearly swim fests faded away until Meredith, a frequent Gorge swimmer, and a few friends resurrected it in 2012.

“This is not the original swim fest, it’s the new, new swim fest – the latest wave of Gorge swim fest-ers,” he said.

Meredith has noticed an increase in swimmers using the Gorge and wants to encourage everyone to come out and see what they’re missing.

In addition to swimming, the Gorge Swim Fest includes games, crafts, Esquimalt Lions’ concession, music and food trucks at the Banfield Park and Esquimalt Gorge Park locations.

“There’s no music or food trucks at Curtis Point,” said Meredith. “You just swim off the rocks there – I can’t tell you how many people tell me it’s their secret swimming hole.”

For more information go to gorgeswimfest.ca.

 

 

Just Posted

Simon Keith undergoes second heart transplant

Former pro athlete turned transplant advocate gets another chance

VicPD help Esquimalt businesses avoid becoming victims of crime

Townhall meeting teaches businesses about safety and prevention

Saanich homeowner scares off cougar taking down deer in Cadboro Bay

Conservation officer Peter Pauwels does not expect the animal to make future appearances

Shoreline Middle School students pitch in to clean school trail

Needles and bags of garbage picked up over six-week period on View Royal trail

Peninsula skater scores personal best speeds to earn spot on Team BC

Kieran Brown heads for the Western Canadian Championships March 22 and 23

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you consider living in a tiny home?

Victoria is the latest Capital Region community to take a look at… Continue reading

Temperature records dating back to 1947 broken in B.C.

The Squamish airport recorded the hottest temperature in the province (and Canada) on Sunday: 21.3 C

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients could drop by 31%: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram; mayor says terror likely

Utrecht police release photo of 37-year-old man born in Turkey who is ‘associated with the incident’

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

Most Read