Roy Webster Columbia River Cross-Channel Swim
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71st Annual Roy Webster Columbia River Cross-Channel Swim. Every yeat at dawn on Labor Day, 500 hearty souls jump from the deck of the Sternwheeler paddleboat into the mighty Columbia River to swim the 1.1 mile stretch from the Washington State shore to Hood River on the Oregon side of the river. Welcome to the annual Hood River County Chamber of Commerce event, the Columbia River Cross-Channel Swim. The swim originated in 1942 when local orchardist Roy Webster challenged himself and some friends to swim across the river–and it’s been happening ever since.
On the day of the swim, participants board the Sternwheeler in the wee hours of the morning to be ferried across the river. When signaled, swimmers jump into the “refreshing” Columbia and head back to the Oregon shore. To help them find their way, a special swim lane lined with volunteers using sail boats, kayaks, and paddle boards are there to guide, encourage, and protect swimmers as they cross the channel.
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