Vic West resident Caleb Kennedy (centre), his son Cairo, and daughter Autumn by the Gorge Waterway near Banfield Park. Kennedy has been swimming in the Gorge for the past 395 days. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

Vic West resident finds Gorge Waterway a calming influence

Sunday’s Gorge Swim Fest will mark 400 straight swim days for Caleb Kennedy

Standing on a dock at the edge of Banfield Park, it’s easy to see why Caleb Kennedy enjoys swimming in the Gorge Waterway.

On this Tuesday afternoon he and his children Cairo, 15, and Autumn, 18, and some half a dozen others are gathered at water’s edge. The sun beats down on them and the smell of salt water is calming.

It’s a feeling Kennedy has become used to having swam in the Gorge for the past 395 straight days.

“When I go swimming I feel great. If you’ve had a stressed-out day, you’re grumpy, you go for a swim and it feels a little better,” said the Vic West resident. He’s raising awareness of the waterway as a clean place to swim as part of this Sunday’s (July 30) sixth annual Gorge Swim Fest.

“I love that you can swim out there and look out and there’s trees on the Gorge; harbour ferries pass by and wave at you. It feels like I could be in Mexico or Costa Rica, but here I am in my hometown.”

Having grown up next to a river, Kennedy developed a passion for swimming. It but it wasn’t last summer when he decided to do something he hadn’t done since childhood: go for a swim every single day. He walked down to the dock every afternoon and dove in, often paddling out to the middle of the Gorge.

As the weather grew cooler, Cairo bet his dad he couldn’t go for a swim every day until New Years – a bet Kennedy gladly accepted. Living so close to the Gorge, there was no excuse not to go for a swim every day.

“I felt great so I thought, ‘why not keep going?’” he said, adding he often sees seals and heron on his swims. “I thought why not go a year, and now a year has passed and I’m not going to stop now. It’s become routine for us (his family).”

Kennedy is one of many advocates bringing attention to the Gorge Waterway and the importance of protecting the ecosystem as part of the Swim Fest.

The event is open to anyone and includes live music, food trucks, historical presentations and crafts for kids.

“It’s the cleanest water, it’s the warmest water and it’s the closest water for most people. We want people to come down and see what a jewel it is and help protect it,” said Gorge Swim Fest Society president Jack Meredith, who has swam here for the past decade.

To give swimmers up-to-date conditions, thermometers have been installed to monitor water temperatures at Banfield Park, the St. Michaels University School Rowing Centre and the Gorge Nature House in Esquimalt. The numbers are posted hourly at gorgeswimfest.ca.

The Gorge Swim Fest takes place at Banfield Park from noon to 4 p.m. Check the website for more information.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

Gorge swim fest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria woman to sell masks on wheels after garage stand shut down

Mama’s Masks stand accompanied Moss Street Market

Greater Victoria non-profit advocates for the use of psilocybin for terminal patients

North Saanich psychotherapist pushes for alternative treatment

Gathering marks 10 years since nearly 500 asylum-seekers landed off Victoria shore

The 492 people fleeing violence, war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka were detained for months

One person in custody after hours-long Cook Street standoff with barricaded robbery suspects

Victoria police say 2300-block of Cook Street has reopened to drivers

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

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

Most Read