Practice Swims


Practice swims have been cancelled for the time being and will only happen with a clear green light from public health authorities permitting group gatherings. Hopefully this will be possible later in the summer. We will not be starting our swims at the end of May, as per our normal schedule. The below information is provided for reference.

All are welcome to join us for our practices at Kitsilano Beach. Swim practices involve swimming with a group while being watched by lifeguards in boats who are there especially for us. These swims with lifeguard support make ocean swimming easier for those who want to try it and to meet other people who love open water swimming.

Whether you are a seasoned open water swimmer, regular pool swimmer, triathlete, or just enjoy our local ocean, come try it out. The course we do is 1500m but you don’t have to swim the whole distance. We have 1.5 hours of lifeguard service, so you may do more than one lap.

Safety is Our Priority

At each practice swim, you must sign-in at the registration table prior to the safety briefing. Equally as important: you must SIGN OUT immediately upon finishing your swim.

This is for your safety. We must be able to confirm that all swimmers going into the water made it out safely. If you forget to sign out, we will contact you and you will have to come back to the beach to sign out in person. Refusing to return or ignoring this safety rule results in being banned from our practice swims and race events.

Registration Fees

Category Fee
Single drop-in $5 per night (cash only, day of)
Season pass $45 – until February 10th
$50 – from February 11th onward
Online only
5 Swim Punch Card $20 – online or at the beach
Please bring proof of registration to collect at your first practice swim.

Please note all credit card payment transactions include a 2.9% surcharge plus a fixed fee of CAD 0.30 for credit card processing.

For technical problems with registration please contact

Swim Course

The swim course circles Kits Bay inside of the powerboat exclusion zone and averages 1.5 km for the full circuit. Movement of buoys due to tides and snags will alter the course over the season.

Location & Time

  • Practice swims run from May 25th and finish August 27th 2020.
  • Practices are every Monday and Thursday beginning at 6:00 pm. (No swims on holidays.)
  • Swimmers should be signed-in by the 6:15 pm safety briefing.
  • Swimming start at 6:30 pm once the lifeguards are in the water.
  • VOWSA lifeguard supervision from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
  • You must finish swimming by 8pm. Toward the end of the summer, you will need to finish earlier than 8pm as the sun sets earlier.
  • Sign-in can be found by the Kits tower, and the Boathouse restaurant, by the trees.


Before your first practice swim you can download and fill in the waiver. We will have extra copies of the waiver at the beach, but doing this in advance makes sign-in faster for everyone.

What to Bring

  • Completed Practice Swim Waiver
  • Drop-in fee, or have paid for a punch card or seasons pass
  • A parent or coach if you are under 19
  • Brightly coloured swim cap (not white)
  • Swim suit
  • Wetsuit (not mandatory but a really good idea)
  • Whistle (not mandatory but a really good idea)
  • A warm change of clothing for post swim

You should be comfortable swimming 1000 metres (40 laps in a 25m pool) and have all the recommended safety items.

Water temperature in English Bay varies over the season from about 14 C at the start of June up to a high of 20 C near the end of August. Upwellings of colder water around the course can be refreshing on a hot day, but we do advise wearing a wetsuit both for warmth and flotation.

Wetsuits are not mandatory for practice swims (though most people wear one). You MUST inform the VOWSA practice supervisors that you plan to swim without a wetsuit when you sign in for practice.


Change rooms, washrooms, cold outdoor showers, concession stand, pay parking lot (very limited free on-street parking).

While swimmers may pile their belongings near our sign-out table, VOWSA admits no liability for anything that may happen to your belongings.


Don’t have a wetsuit? Talk to Team Aquatic Supplies.

Still have questions?