About Swim Guide

Swim Guide is a website and smartphone app for iPhone® and Android. It helps you easily find your closest beaches, know at a glance which ones are safe for swimming, and share your love of beaches with friends and family.

Swim Guide delivers free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and New Zealand.

Created and managed by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Swim Guide can be used by any public interest club, organization, or agency to share beach information with the public.

Find the best beaches

Swim Guide offers water quality information for a wide variety of beaches, ranging from city parks to remote lakes ideal for camping.

To find the beach that’s just right for you, browse the map or search for a beach by name. Beach descriptions tell you about amenities, lifeguards, where to park, and everything else you need to know to enjoy a day at the beach.

Have a favourite beach? Bookmark it! The next time you use the app, it will show up at the top of the beach list, making it easier for you to access information.

Don’t know how to get to the beach of your choice? The app also provides walking, driving, and transit directions.

Make sure to share your love of beaches with friends and family using our built-in social media sharing tools.

Beach water quality information that is easy to understand

Every beach is marked with an icon so you know when the water at your favourite beach meets government water quality standards.


Water Quality Legend

Click on (the water quality icon) at the top of the page whenever you need to reference the meaning of a water quality icon.

Current Status
















Green means the beach’s most recent test results met relevant water quality standards.
Red means the beach’s most recent test results failed to meet water quality standards.
Grey means water quality information for the beach is too old (more than 7 days old) to be considered current, or that info is unavailable, or unreliable.

Historical Status

When swimming season is over or when a beach’s water quality data has not been updated frequently enough (weekly) it goes into historical status. This means that rather than displaying current data it displays the beach’s average water quality for that year.
















Green means the beach passed water quality tests 95% of the time or more.
Yellow means the beach passed water quality tests 60-95% of the time.
Red means the beach failed water quality tests 40% of the time or more.

Special Status

We may manually set the status for a specific beach if we have concerns about the sampling protocol, if there is an emergency, if monitoring practices don’t exist or have recently changed, or other reasons that render this site “special.”
















Green means the beach has historically excellent or pristine water quality, but there is no current data.
Red means the water at the site has water quality issues or there is an emergency.
Grey means there is no current water quality information, the beach is under construction, there has been an event that has rendered water quality information unreliable or unavailable.


Reliable beach water quality sources

Water quality information is gathered from government agencies or reported by Swim Guide affiliates themselves.

In any beach, look at the “Source” section. This will tell you who samples the water at each beach, how often, and what water quality standards apply. The date and time stamps tell you when the sample results were last verified by the Swim Guide affiliate.

Pollution reporting

Bacteria isn’t the only pollution that can ruin your trip to the beach. If you are concerned about water quality, litter, minor spills, or other problems, let us know using the pollution reporting tool in Swim Guide. This will alert your local affiliate to environmental problems. (In an emergency, always notify the appropriate authority.)

The history of Swim Guide

Swim Guide was created by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper staff in Toronto to answer this simple question: is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?

We thought it would be easy to find the answer. We were wrong.

As it turns out, reliable facts and figures about beach water quality are hard to come by. So we started compiling our own.

Over the years, more affiliates have started using Swim Guide to share information about swimmable waters with the public. As of 2015, Swim Guide is the most popular beach information service in the world.

The importance of Swim Guide

Every person should be able to swim at any beach on any day of the summer and never worry about health risks.

Without current, reliable data about water quality, people are vulnerable to illness and infection. When water isn’t safe to touch, people withdraw from it. And when the connection between us and our water fades, so does our instinct to protect it.

Swim Guide has helped to prevent thousands of waterborne illnesses simply by making it easy for people to know when their water is contaminated and when it is clean for swimming.

Swim Guide is helping to identify sources of water pollution so that together we can act to restore and maintain swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters.

Swim Guide shares the best information we have at the moment you ask for it. Always obey signs at the beach or advisories from official government agencies. Stay alert and check for other swimming hazards such as dangerous currents and tides. Please report your pollution concerns so Affiliates can help keep other beach-goers safe.

Swim Guide, "Swim Drink Fish icons," and associated trademarks are owned by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.| See Legal.

© Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, 2011 - 2016