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Swimming in Green Lake

What do you think? (5 Comments) July 18, 2011 at 4:50PM


Thinking about swimming in Green Lake? Here’s what you need to know:

Where to swim at Green Lake

Green Lake has two swimming beaches that are kept clear of boats and aquatic weeds. East Green Lake Beach is located at 7201 E Green Lake Dr N and West Green Lake Beach is at 7312 W Green Lake Dr N.

Swimming in Green Lake is regulated by the Seattle Municipal Code. SMC 16.28.010 dictates that swimmers must stay within designated swimming areas or within 50 feet from the shore, unless the swimmer is accompanied by a boat within 25 feet of the swimmer that has a personal floatation device for the swimmer on board.

When to swim at Green Lake

Both beaches are staffed by lifeguards daily, weather permitting, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

This summer, East Green Lake Beach will be open until Sunday, August 28, 2011 and West Green Lake Beach will stay open until Monday, Sept. 5, 2011.

Before heading out for a swim, you can check recent Green Lake temperatures, as well as bacteria and algal toxin levels, here.

Water safety

The Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol Unit responds to approximately 6,000 service calls each year, the majority of which occur during the summer months.

The Harbor Unit has developed the following list of water safety tips:

  • Insist properly fitted PFD’s (Personal Floatation Devices) be worn by everyone riding in a boat or being towed on an inner tube, skis or other device.
  • Never allow alcohol to be consumed when around the water.
  • Never swim in unsupervised areas, and never swim alone.
  • Do not dive or jump into unfamiliar or shallow water because of the risk of spinal cord or head injuries.
  • Go to shore when changing places in small tippy boats or canoes.
  • Limit boating to safe weather and water conditions.
  • Teach your child to swim or enroll them in swim classes.
  • Children should not jump into the pool on their own until they are able to climb out on their own.
  • If a river carries a stick faster than you can walk on shore, it’s moving too fast.
  • Don’t swim in or around lily pads because arms or legs may become entangled.
In addition, Gayle Garman of the Friends of Green Lake recommends steering clear of water that has a  green film on it, as it may contain toxic algae.

Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that SPD has ticketed Green Lake swimmers this summer. In fact, no tickets have been issued.

5 Responses to “Swimming in Green Lake”

  1. Jean says:

    I know many who swim across the lake for exercise, how far should government go to control our lives?  The new SMC is ridiculous!

  2. Greenlake is a popular lake for open water training in the summer and plain old exercise. I think this is a well-known fact and has been for quite some time. I would warn these swimmers to be very aware of the boats around you, even ones that seem so far away. You can find yourself in the middle of rowing or kayaking classes! The rowing is the worst because they can’t see you but most rowing is in the early morning hours so pay attention. If you find yourself in the middle of a kayaking class, stop, make eye contact, wave, and wait until they pass you before moving on.

  3. Jason says:


  4. joe says:

    Are you allowed the swim in Green Lake after Labor Day.  The city’s website is vague.  It doesn’t say it’s illegal.  Just closed, no lifeguards on duty and wear a vest.  Searched the web and could not find anything.  Please clarify. 

    • Thanks for the question, Joe. I forwarded it to Dewey Potter, a spokesperson for Seattle Parks. This is what she said:

      “It’s not illegal; we just encourage people to swim where lifeguards are present. If one chooses to swim in a lake where a lifeguard is not present, the Harbor Code provides that one must stay within 50 feet of shore and wear a lifejacket.”