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Swimming in Lake Ontario - experiences

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by Snuffy, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Snuffy

    Snuffy TRIBE Member

    After weeks of closure, the e-coli counts at Sunnyside Beach dropped low enough to swim. I suppressed thoughts of expressway runoff and floating dead bodies and took the plunge tonight just as it got dark.

    The Pavilion looked ghetto and the water looked black. It smelt a little musty but that was fine. It's kind of how I remember the lakes up North. Or... yeah... lakes are supposed to smell musty, are they not? I hope so.

    Anyhow, what bothered me, though, was the sand. It felt like mush mixed in with gravel. My foot sank deep into it. At one point something that felt like vegetation hit my leg which gave me a panic. And the water looked black so I couldn't see it.


    I don't feel all that confident at that Sunnyside after that experience, so I think I'll try again during daylight. Maybe that will make things OK. Miss swimming lots.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  2. wakipaki

    wakipaki TRIBE Member

    i really like this thread

    what are people's thoughts on swimming in lake ontario, how dirty is it?

    is it really worse than say, jumping in the water on the beach in barcelona, which is only a couple 500 meters away from a port? or other, urban swimming destinations around the world

    and to people that say its much cleaner on the far side of the island, how is that really possible, given the proxmimity and the fact that there are no significant currents, as its a lake
  3. sheik rock

    sheik rock TRIBE Member

    It's fine as long as you aren't too close to the waste treatment plant after a heavy rain. Follow the blue flag system.

    Things disperse in water rapidly; the safe concentration of most things is reached quite quickly. Also, Lake Ontario is fucking huge and there are currents, strong enough that you have to take them into account when racing sailboats.
  4. moose-meat

    moose-meat TRIBE Member

    4 times in my life. All late in the summer.

    Twice at Sandbanks , twice in Whitby.
    Never anywhere near Toronto.

    Although I was intrigued by the harbor swim event.
    They still running that ?
  5. sianspherica

    sianspherica TRIBE Member

    I was swimming in Lake Ontario on Sunday, I've swum in the lake like 10 times already this year

    Why? Because I swim at the only beach in Toronto worth swimming at - Ward's Beach on Toronto Island.

    The water is clear and completely fine to swim in at Ward's, sand is nice, not too crowded. I love swimming and I've gone to every beach in the GTA (sunnyside, beaches, hanlan's, etc) and they all seem completely and utterly disgusting and unappealing to swim in..........except for Ward's. The water at Ward's is relatively warm, it's literally by far the clearest out of any water around Toronto, the grossest thing you generally will see might be seaweed. Beneath your feet is sand, not....miscellaneous crap. I'm almost certain it's the only GTA beach that never fails the bacteria testing.

    if you want to jump in a lake on a hot summer day, and relax on a nice clean beach, get on the ferry and go to Ward's, you won't regret it.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  6. JuJuHound

    JuJuHound TRIBE Member

    i would not swim in Lake Ontario....I have lived by the lake for the last 20 years or so, and YES the water quality has improved but still...

    When in Barcelona this year, beaches were packed, YET only the brave jumped in for a dip. Spoke with locals and same talk as here. "I would not jump in that!!" They all go to Tarragona south of Barcelona for a dip. So I ventured there and noticed lots peeps jumping in.
  7. sianspherica

    sianspherica TRIBE Member

    but still what?

    so a giant lake that is relatively unpolluted and you refuse to ever swim in it....why?

    I'm going to Sandbanks in September, can't fucking wait, such a great spot.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  8. Ho||yw0oD

    Ho||yw0oD TRIBE Member

    I think it is funny that we hate swimming in these lakes nowadays. The myth exists that the lakes were less polluted in the 1940s-1970s. Environmental standards and water quality management are much more stringent today.

    Hell, I used to swim in Lake Erie in the early to late 90's. You want to talk about a bacteria frap... earaches many of times after swimming at Sherkston.
  9. I_bRAD

    I_bRAD TRIBE Member

    Wards is definitely the best in Toronto, but Cherry and Ashbridges are also good IMO. (ashbridges can be COLD though if the wind isn't right!)

    Another great beach that isn't too far away is Jack Darling Park in mississauga. Great swimming there, it's about an hour's bike ride away and offers a cool view of the city as well as a marsh to explore.
  10. Kinger

    Kinger TRIBE Member

    Toronto's beaches are some of the cleanest in the world. The water is just really cold.here
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  11. Musical Rush

    Musical Rush TRIBE Member

    I'm nervous to even put my dog into that lake. Kingers post might have put me at ease. Now I just have to work him into it, when a little tide comes in he jumps backs.
  12. Kinger

    Kinger TRIBE Member

    Pretty sure that's never been said before.
  13. Musical Rush

    Musical Rush TRIBE Member

    It only took your 1,407th post.:D Mine took over 3500.
  14. squidly

    squidly TRIBE Member

    I've lived close to the lake pretty much my entire life and had never been swimming before this summer.
    as was mentioned earlier, i've been swimming in spots across europe and the us which were probably way more toxic than toronto is.

    my dad used to swim in the don river with his friends in the 50 when paper mills would just run off in to the stream.
    he's still alive.
  15. Snuffy

    Snuffy TRIBE Member

    The water at Sunnyside was actually quite warm which made me worried that it had been just sitting there, stagnant. The other thing that spooks me about Sunnyside is where to swim. There's so many different areas.

    The enclosure that they section off with nylon had an e-coli count of over 600 this past weekend and over 1700 the last. I suspect the enclosure is a flop. The safe areas could either be to the East or the West of that enclosure.

    The East has a stronger musty smell. The West is closer to the Humber River, the source of the pollution. Not sure which area is safer. I'd totally make that place my summer hangout if I wasn't so damned worried that I was accidentally swimming in the bacteria cesspool section.
  16. erika

    erika TRIBE Member

    Hanlan's point
    The Beach (waaaay back when)
    They were all alright
    (Nothing beats the Indian Ocean though)
  17. Snuffy

    Snuffy TRIBE Member

    On Google Maps, I found the Humber Bay Waste Treatment Plant located unnervingly close to Sunnyside. Ick.

    I think I'll try another beach like Wards. Interestingly enough, the only beach in this city that hasn't been closed this year is "Gibraltar Point Beach" located on the outer edge of the islands:


    Anyone been to that one? Seems out of the way.
  18. skyparty

    skyparty TRIBE Member

    I've enjoyed hanlan's point and ward's, but have yet to go all the way in at the toronto beach. it seems gross to me, with floating green scum all the time. then again, i've swam in various points of lake huron and thought that was fine...but the beaches are less rocky there, and i think it has to do with the fact that i grew up hitting hot spots in that area (all within extended biking distance), vs here- it seems like such a trek to hit a decent beach.
  19. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    I am a saltwater person and I am in the water constantly when in south africa. I really don't like the way fresh water feels on my skin, even clean freshwater, like at the Boreal Moonriver a few years ago. But this summer I have swum in Lake Ontario (Hanlan's and Wards) a couple of times because it was so dammed hot. It's OK I guess - probably just as much mercury and heavy meatal content as the oceans these days.
  20. sk8

    sk8 TRIBE Member

    tons, both outside and in the city. I've actually been in the water multiple times in the boat slips in harbourfront. Lots in the harbour, sunnyside, TTP, island, ashbridges....

    i'm still fine and have the appropriate number of appendages.

    follow the warnings, but other than that the water is fine, particularly on the island.

    (this is not just personal experience, i've spent a lot of time working in toxicology and for the CA)
  21. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    I guess those of us that drink tap water are getting our share of Lake Ontario on the inside as well....
  22. Snuffy

    Snuffy TRIBE Member

    In the swimming areas? Really? I could deal with mercery and lead, but green floating stuff makes me panic.

    Any lake is going to have it's swampy unappealing bits, but the beach area has to be clean. String-like vegetation hitting my leg makes me kick away in a panic. NOTHING sets me off like accidentally swimming into a patch of disgusting swamp grass.

    Are there dock areas here where you can bypass the mucky shore and jump right in without touching the bottom? There were a lot of lakes in Northern Ontario that had slimy rocks for beaches, but it was ok cause I could just bypass them by jumping off the dock, which was my fav :)
  23. Bacchus

    Bacchus TRIBE Promoter


    Ward's or Gibraltar point are pretty equal. They're the cleanest beaches in Lake ontario, and although the water is cold - it's clear and clean. The reason it's cleaner is that the tide stirs the water, with fresh water always coming in.

    The water along the harbourfront is much more stagnant - and doesnt move due to break walls/the islands.

    I wouldn't go close to water at Sunnyside beach.

    Ashbridges isn't as good as the islands, but its alright
  24. KillaLadY

    KillaLadY TRIBE Member

    I swam in the Ganges river, I hope I am ok.
  25. graham

    graham Well-Known TRIBEr

    I got syphilis from lake ontario. Or a hooker, its hard to be sure.

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