Open water swimming is an increasingly popular activity. According to the Fédération de natation du Québec (French-only website), open water swimming refers to all swimming that takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as oceans, lakes and rivers, and usually over long distances.

The NCC is allowing this activity in certain locations as part of a pilot project. The pilot offers a safe way to engage in open water swimming.

Open water swimming pilot project

For 2021, the open water swimming pilot project is being conducted only at Meech Lake, in Gatineau Park, and at Leamy Lake, in the Hull sector of Gatineau.

Measures and instructions

No lifeguards are on duty in the areas designated for open water swimming. Engaging in this activity is at your own risk.

  • Access to the water: Water access points are located close to the main parking lots for the beaches. It is not permitted to enter the water from private property or to exit the water onto private property.
  • Swimming area: Swimming areas are marked by buoys and may be used for open water swimming at all times. After 8 am, swimmers not using the swimming areas must swim within 30 m from the shore at all times.

Lakes included in the pilot project

Leamy Lake

Leamy Lake is located in the Hull sector of Gatineau. In 2021, it is a perfect place for open water swimming, as the Leamy Lake Navigation Channel is closed. Open water swimming is permitted from Leamy Lake beach. Leamy Lake parking lot opens at 5 am.

Additional information about Leamy Lake Park, parking hours and fees

Meech Lake

Meech Lake is located in Gatineau Park and offers public access for non-motorized boating as well as two beaches (Blanchet and O’Brien). Open water swimming is permitted from O’Brien Beach, P11 ($) starting at 5 am and from Blanchet Beach, P13 ($) starting at 7 am.

Respect for private property

There are private homes, cottages, boathouses and docks on Meech lake and along its shoreline. In order to respect the peace and tranquility of local residents, a quiet time has been set from 9 pm to 7 am. Noise levels will be checked in the mornings at various locations around O’Brien Beach, and must not exceed 60 decibels. Accessing private property is not permitted at any time.

All swimmers are asked to practise their sport in a respectful manner.

Safety advice

Open water swimming is an endurance sport. Make sure that you are comfortable swimming in deep, cold water.

Reminder: No lifeguards are on duty in the areas designated for open water swimming. However, these areas are marked by buoys with whistles that can be used to call for help.

For your safety, you must wear a fluorescent swim cap and use a swim buoy.

Further resources: