Monday, July 30, 2012
Swimmers Invited to the Gorge for revival of the Gorge Swim Fest
press release about the Gorge Swim Fest
Three locations return Gorge Waterway to its recreational roots
July 27, 2012: One hundred years ago, when Victoria residents wanted to swim and socialize, they
took a tram to the Gorge waterway. It was the site for Victoria’s first swimming school and swimming
races and high diving were frequent events that brought people together. Gorge Swim Fest
organizers are reminding people of the swimming access in their own backyard with the revival of the
annual Gorge Swim Fest. Taking place at three locations on August 12, Gorge Swim Fest celebrates
the Gorge as a recreational space, especially as a swimming location, and reminds people that some
of the best, and warmest, swimming in the area is right in their own backyard.
“The Gorge was really a hub of social and recreational activity at the turn of the last century.
Unfortunately, over the years the Gorge was not treated well and was considered polluted. However,
through heroic efforts of many organizations, the Gorge has been cleaned up and now VIHA water
quality tests show excellent results. Sadly these results are not widely known. We’d like to bring
people’s perceptions up to date and get them swimming in the Gorge,” says Jack Meredith, event
organizer. “Gorge Swim Fest is one way to celebrate the Gorge and connect to this important
Restoration work on the Gorge began in 1994 and the waterway was given a clean bill of health in
2000. Now, many community groups and individuals come together annually to clean the shore line
and sea bed. The three sites hosting Swim Fest event have been tested weekly by VIHA for fecal
coliform (the same testing as in swimming lakes) and test results have shown levels lower than in
many regional lakes. Test results are posted weekly at
The Gorge Swim Fest takes place August 12th from noon to 4 p.m. at three locations: Esquimalt
Gorge Park (formerly Kinsmen Gorge Park) – 1070 Tillicum Road; Saanich’s Gorge Park (Gorge
Road near Tillicum Road); and Banfield Park - at the foot of Styles Street off of Craigflower Road.
Each location is hosting a variety of activities including food, music, contests and games. People who
swim at any site will be eligible to win valuable draw prizes (see
http://www.gorgewaterway.ca/PrizesforSwimmers.htm. A vintage swimming costume contest and
other games & events will be held at Banfield Park.
To encourage swimming through the summer, Gorge Swim Fest organizers are also hosting a photo
contest featuring Gorge swimmers. Contestants are invited to submit photos of themselves and their
friends swimming in the Gorge to the Gorge Swim Fest FaceBook Page at
http://www.facebook.com/events/106420802834842/ between now and August 31. Winners will be
selected in a random draw on September 1. Contest entry details are posted at
www.gorgewaterway.ca/photocontest. Prizes include airfare to Vancouver on Helijet and Harbour Air.
About the Gorge Swim Fest
The Gorge Fest is a collaborative of the Burnside Gorge Community Association, Esquimalt
Residents Association, Gorge Tillicum Community Association and Victoria West Community
Association. The organizers vision is that the Gorge Swim Fest will help protect and enhance the
natural and cultural features of the Gorge Waterway, Portage Inlet and the surrounding watersheds.
Inspired by historic images of swimming festivals from the early twentieth century and a desire to
bring people back to a restored waterway, the organizers created Gorge Swim Fest to bring people
together to celebrate and experience the Gorge. The event has the support of many of the
organizations working on the Gorge including the Gorge Waterway Initiative.
Details about the event can be found at http://www.gorgewaterway.ca/gorgeswimfest.htm.
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