Practice Swims

Come and join other open water swimmers preparing for VOWSA’s swim series. These practices at Kitsilano Beach are perfect opportunities to meet new people and familiarize yourself with the challenges that await you in the open water. You should be comfortable swimming 1 km in a pool.

Water temperature in English Bay varies over the season from about 14C at the start of June up to a high of 20C 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.


Our practice swims are completely volunteer-run, and we depend on swimmers like YOU to help keep these practices running! You can contact our volunteer coordinator Pauline at vowsa.volunteer “at” for more information!

Swim Course

The swim course circles Kits Bay inside of the powerboat exclusion zone and averages 1.3-1.5 km for the full circuit. A map of the approximate course is available here; though movement of buoys due to tides and snags will alter the course over the season.

Location & Time

  • Sign-in can be found near the main tower, by the trees, near the boat house restaurant. – Map
  • Practices are every* Mondays and Thursdays beginning at 6:00 pm for safety briefing and sign-in.
  • Swims start at 6:30 pm; VOWSA lifeguard supervision from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
  • PLEASE NOTE: For the last 2 practice swims on Monday, August 28 and Thursday, August 31 we will be starting and finishing earlier (as it gets darker sooner).  We will have the safety briefing at 6:00 and have you in the water by 6:15.  We ask that you be out of the water at 7:30.  We want to ensure there is enough light for the lifeguards to conduct a search in case of emergency.  This is for your safety, thank you for your cooperation.
  • Practice swims start May 29th 2017 and conclude August 31st*

*No practice swim on Monday July 3, 2017 & Monday August 7, 2017

What to bring

  • Completed Practice Swim Waiver *
  • Drop in fee or have paid for Seasons Pass – see costs below
  • 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.

*You can complete a waiver at the beach, but bringing your own will save us time.


→Register now!

For technical problems with registration please contact vowsa.president “at”

2017 Registration Fees

Category Entry Fee
Single Drop in $5 (Cash Only)
Season Pass $45 (Only Available Online)
5 Swim Punch Card $20 (Available Online or at the beach)
Please bring proof of registration to collect at your first practice swim.

Please note a 2.9% surcharge for credit card processing will be added at the time of registration (online registration only).

Refund policy


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

We do not always have a volunteer to watch your gear while you swim, so prepare to leave valuables in your vehicle or lock them with your bicycle on the beach.

Coached Training with SeaHiker

Struggling with open water swimming or feeling out of your depth? Check out Sea Hiker courses to get your skills and improve your open water confidence. Click here for more information.

Lessons and Stroke Analysis with Catalyst Kinetics Group

Come improve your swimming and learn with Catalyst Aquatics

  • professional, experienced swim coaches teaching beginners and high level athletes (1-on-1 to create an optimal learning environment)
  • Elite Endless Pool
  • unparalleled feedback
    • mirrors on the bottom of the pool while you swim
    • delayed video feedback while you rest
    • video summary to analyze at home


Don’t have a wetsuit?  A great place to rent or purchase a wetsuit is West Point Cycles.  They are located at 215 East 2nd Ave.  They also carry a wide selection of swim caps, goggles, swim suits and other swimming accessories, as well as triathlon products.  You can contact them at 604.559.9944 or by email at . Please mention you heard of them through VOWSA.


Still have questions? Visit our FAQ page.