The nuts and bolts of our safety plan:
To ensure that entrants are capable of completing the swim safely, a qualifying swim will be required upon entry. . To qualify, swimmers must show that they have completed a minimum 5000 m/5500 yd swim faster than 1:40, within 3 years of race day. Time must be verified by an observer but it does not have to be an organized swim. The number of entrants will be capped at 100 so that organizers can safely track swimmers.
The Portland Bridge Swim will be held in the Willamette River. The Swim will begin at Sellwood Riverfront Park and end at Cathedral Park. To avoid as much boat traffic as possible, it will begin at 7:30 AM and the course will run along the East side of the river, rather than the center. Permits to hold the event are obtained from the Portland Parks and Recreation Department (for access to the parks) and from the U.S. Coast Guard (for access to the river). The U.S. Coast Guard will issue a broadcast to commercial boats, alerting them to the event and the presence of swimmers in the water.
Each entrant is required to have an escort in a non-motorized craft (kayak, SUP) in a life vest and equipped with an additional life vest for the swimmer. For swimmer safety, motorized watercraft are not permitted to escort swimmers. Each escort will be provided additional mandatory race-specific safety materials. Swimmers MUST wear the brightly-colored swim cap and use the STB provided in their race packet. Swimmers and escorts must follow all announced safety rules without exception.
Maps of the course, with the locations of motorboats and places to exit the river will be displayed at the race start. The course will be discussed during the pre-race briefing.
In addition to the support kayakers, Race Officials wearing yellow vests will be in kayaks patrolling within the swimmer area to monitor progress, ensure compliance with race rules, and assist in an emergency. Marked spotting/safety motorboats with first responders on board will be patrol along the outside of the course.
In the event of a health or safety problem, the Race Official will investigate and notify the Safety Coordinator by radio. If necessary, the Safety Coordinator will dispatch one or more motorboats to the location to assist and/or request assistance by emergency personnel. The patient will be taken to an exit point for transportation to an emergency room, urgent care, etc. as the situation requires.
At the exit from the course, EMTs will be present to observe swimmers as they leave the water. Warm drinks and blankets will be available to all participating swimmers. There are no hot showers at the park.
If mass evacuation from the water becomes necessary, the Safety Coordinator will notify all motorboats and Race Officials by radio. Depending on their location, Race Officials will either direct swimmers to the closest shoreline or they will be picked up by the motorboats.
Swimmers who have not cleared the Fremont Bridge (approximately 5.5 miles) within 4 hours of the race start will be stopped and transported to the race finish. Swimmers and relays who have not reached the race finish within 7 1/2 hours of the race start will be stopped and transported to the race finish.