A Whole Lot Of Fun In The Columbia River

A Whole Lot Of Fun In The Columbia River

The 68th Annual Columbia River Cross Channel Swim in Oregon captures the spirit of Hood River and its visionary founder.

Roy Webster, the race founder, passed away a few years ago, but he still cheered people on until he was 91. Roy started the event as a means to challenge himself to swim across the Columbia River.

The Columbia River is the fourth largest river in America (1,200 miles) and touches seven states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming Montana and Utah and one province in Canada.

A maximum of 550 swimmers are allowed to follow in Roy’s wake as they cross the 1.1-mile stretch on Labor Day, September 6th.

The start is certainly a treat for many swimmers as they board the Sternwheeler paddleboat that is ferried across the Columbia River to the start. At the sound of the start, the swimmers jump off the Sternwheeler into the river for the swim (not a race) back along a special lane lined with enthusiastic volunteers in sail boats, kayaks and paddle boards.

Safety and spectacle are definitely in store for the athletes.

This experience in the Columbia River Cross Channel Swim is unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. It has grown from a yearly challenge among friends to an annual mecca for swimmers of all ages,” said Mary Closson, Executive Director of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. “We draw groups, friends, families, and teams to this swim. We even have one person who has taken part in the event for 37 consecutive years.”

It is a fun swim without the pressure of competition. There are even rest boards in the middle of the channel for use by swimmers who need them.

Roy’s orchard, now called the Fruit Company and owned by his grandchildren, still carry on his original tradition of support by participating and sponsoring the event. “Critical to the success of the event are the more than 150 volunteers,” commented Mark Brown. “It is truly a community effort and a whole lot of fun.”

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones