Unless you entered the sport of triathlon from a swim background, the swim for many is the hardest, most stressful part of the race. Even if you are a natural swimmer, swimming in your local 25m pool does not compare to swimming in a lake or large body of water. You have to be sighting landmarks, battling the waves, the currents, and just be comfortable with not seeing the bottom.
Sadly, there isn’t much information about where the best open water swimming locations are in Canada. This isn’t because there is a lack of large bodies of water, but has to do with water testing and the hassle that comes with going to a lake. Hopefully, this will offer you some locations you can check out, from coast to coast. So, you can get comfortable in the open waters and increase your swim distance as you prepare for those long triathlons.
Lake Banook in Dartmouth, NS. Temperatures hover around 20-21C come mid June. It is a popular spot for people to enjoy the cool waters in the dead heat of the summer. And come June 23rd the lake will be site of a open water swim event, along with being site of the EPIC Subaru Dartmouth Triathlon over Canada Day Weekend.
In Montreal, right in the middle of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track is Plage Jean-Doré. It is a small man made pond in the shadows of the Montreal Casino. Its location is ideal for those looking to do some race simulations. Get in an open water swim, and then jump on your bike for a rip around the race track.
In Toronto, a popular open water swim location for triathletes is Cherry Beach. Close to the city, this is location decreases the hassle of getting to a site to swim. Up in Caledon, C3 (Triathlon Club) hosts a Open Water Swim Series race through the summer months in an old retired quarry.
Out in Ottawa, many triathletes take the short drive across the river into Gatineau Park and swim in Meech Lake. Meech Lake is also the site of the annual Meech Lake Triathlon.
The prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, offer many lakes. For example, Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park is a common site for open water swims. It will be the host for the Western Canada Summer Games for open water swim events in 2019. In Manitoba, Birds Hill Provincial Park is a popular site for swims. It is also the host of the Triple Threat Triathlon over the June 9th weekend.
In the shadow of the rockies, Lake Summerside in Edmonton and Quarry Lake in Canmore are popular locations for swimming. Both loactions also are the site of annual open water swims in the summer. Additionally, Lake Chinook in Calgary is a popular site for swims and hosts a large triathlon festival on June 16th (click here).
British Columbia not only offers a variety of lake locations to swim in, but also some salt water swim locations. Here are few popular spots, Shaka and Okanagan Lake in Penticton, Lake Windermere in Invermere, Thetis Lake in Victoria, Westwood Lake in Nanaimo and Deep Cove in Vancouver.
These are just a few suggestions of some locations across Canada. For more information, join a local triathlon club and ask around. Happy training and remember ‘just keep swimming!’