Swim Guide

Swim Guide is a website and a smartphone app that delivers real time water quality information to Swim Guide users for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the USA, Mexico, and New Zealand. And it’s free.

A question of swimmability

We are in pursuit of a future where everyone can swim, drink, and fish from their local waters.

Swim Guide has a big role to play at every level of this journey, from bringing awareness to the contaminants threatening our waterways to helping people find, love, and protect their clean water.

Swim Guide began in Toronto when a team of staff and volunteers at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper set out to answer this simple question: Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?

It’s a crucial question. It’s an urgent question. It’s a starting point question. It’s also the most common question we receive from the people in our watershed.  

We thought it would be easy to find the answer. We were wrong.

As it turns out, reliable facts and figures about beach water quality are hard to come by.

Consequently, it is very difficult for the average citizen to make an informed decision about where to swim.

There is an estimated 3%-8% risk of getting sick after swimming in a natural water source. 3.5 million people per year get sick enough to throw up or get diarrhea after splashing in water containing harmful bacteria, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Without reliable and current data about water quality people are vulnerable to illness and infection. When water isn’t safe to touch people withdraw from it. And when the connection between us and our water fades, so does our instinct to protect it.

In relentless pursuit of Swimmable, Drinkable, Fishable water

We have been compiling water quality data and tracking beach water quality trends for more than a decade now. In 2011, we decided we needed a tool that would tell you where the closest beaches are and provide you with the up-to-date water quality information so that you can find your swimmable water right now.

Swim Guide app for iPhone®, Android, or web.

Swim Guide helps to protect public health by showing people where the water is clean enough swim and alerting them to where the water is contaminated.

We’ve come a long way since launching in 2011 with water quality information for 800 beaches in the Great Lakes states, Ontario, and Vancouver-area.

  • We have water quality information for 7,000 beaches, river, lakes, and swimming holes in Canada, the USA, Mexico, and New Zealand. And we are adding new locations every day.
  • Since our launch 350, 000 individuals have used Swim Guide to find a clean place to swim.
  • There have been close to 140,000 unique Swim Guide users in 2014 alone!
  • 45 nonprofit and public organizations from Canada, the US, Mexico, and New Zealand have joined the Swim Guide Affiliates Program

Swim Guide’s momentum is the result of more and more people in more and more places asking “Is the water swimmable?”  

Swim Guide helped to prevent thousands of waterborne illnesses simply by making it easy for people to know when their water is contaminated and when it is clean for swimming.

Swim Guide is helping to identify sources of water pollution, so that together we can act to restore and maintain swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters.

Swim Guide is working to strengthen the social, economical, and cultural connections between communities and their beaches to ensure long-term protection of clean waterfronts and to build public support for restoration of polluted areas.

Sponsor a beach!

People love swimming in beautiful natural swimming spots. But most swimming and recreational water use sites that people visit are not monitored for water quality.

In order to ensure people have the real-time water quality information they need to prevent them from getting sick we need to continue supporting and expanding beach water quality monitoring programs.

The more people choose clean water over polluted water, the more waterborne illnesses will be prevented.

Your contribution

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper built Swim Guide for one reason: we want people to explore, enjoy, and fall in love with the beach so that our lake will be protected for generations to come.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will honour you, your family, or your company with recognition on your favourite beach in Swim Guide.

For every $300 we raise, we can monitor the health of one beach for one summer. For every $1,000 we raise, we can add a new beach to the Swim Guide program. For every $10,000 we raise, we can add a new region or launch a new feature in Swim Guide to better protect public health.

2014 was a fantastic year for Swim Guide. Thank you all for caring about your swimmable water!