~ Submitted by State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced Wednesday evening that open water swimming will be permitted once again at Walden Pond following a letter sent by Senator Mike Barrett (D – Lexington), Representative Ken Gordon (D – Bedford), and 48 of their colleagues asking that DCR reconsider its decision to ban the practice.
The new guidance from DCR requires that swimmers follow the updated Open Water Swim Rules & Best Practices for Walden Pond to ensure that experienced swimmers may navigate the open water while still prioritizing safety for all swimmers, lifeguards, and beachgoers. The new rules allow open water swimming only before and after lifeguard shifts between Memorial Day and Labor Day and during all park operating hours after Labor Day. This restriction enables lifeguards to focus without distraction on the safety of those in the designated swimming area, many of whom are inexperienced swimmers.
The rules also require that open water swimmers utilize a brightly colored open water swim buoy, avoid the marked “no-swim zone,” and enter and exit the pond from within the designated Open Water Swim Lane. Click this link for the complete updated open water swim guidance.
“As soon as the ban took effect, my inbox filled with constituent emails. They shared their personal stories of mental and physical health, and how open water swimming at Walden Pond has been their lifeline over the years,” said Rep. Gordon. “I am relieved that DCR’s new rules include measures meant to prevent future tragedies, while still allowing residents to care for themselves. Special thanks go to Senator Barrett who represents Lincoln and Concord in the Senate and worked with Senator Jason Lewis to lead our group of colleagues that asked DCR to lift the ban.”
“We realize that some people are still unhappy,” said Senator Mike Barrett. “We’re trying to engage further with DCR so that they can increase staffing levels at Walden and expand the hours available for open water swimming.”
Residents are reminded that open water swimming is an inherently dangerous activity, and should only be attempted by individuals who have trained for it, adhere to safety protocols, and understand the risks.
These new rules take effect beginning Friday, July 9, 2021, and continue indefinitely.