About Swim Guide

Wondering what Swim Guide is all about? Here are the Top 6 most important things to know about Swim Guide.


1. What is Swim Guide?

For years, the team at Swim Drink Fish was asked one big question: “Where can I go swimming?”

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.

We packaged up this newly compiled information and created Swim Guide; your one stop shop for beach and water quality information. Years after our first data point was collected, we are still checking hundreds of water quality sources daily so you can connect with the water.

We believe that every person should be able to swim at any beach without having to worry about health risks. People are vulnerable to illness and infection when they can’t get current, reliable water quality information. When water isn’t safe to touch, people also withdraw from it.

When the connection between you and your water fades, so does your 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.

As of 2020, Swim Guide is the most popular beach information service in the world.

You can use Swim Guide’s free website, or download the smartphone app for iOS and Android.


2. Where is Swim Guide active?

With help from our 100 affiliates, Swim Guide delivers free up-to-date water quality information for over 8,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes.

Swim Guide is currently active in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Ireland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, and Kenya.

Swim Guide is available in English, French, and Spanish.

If you’d like to join the Swim Guide affiliates program, click here for details.


3. How do I use Swim Guide?

Swim Guide is easy to use and offers water quality information for a wide variety of beaches, ranging from city parks to remote lakes.

To find the beach that’s just right for you, browse the map or search for a beach by name. In the app, you will also find a list of beaches closest to you.

You can also click here to browse for beaches by region, province, state, or territory.

On every Swim Guide beach page, you will find the latest water quality information, an integrated map, and weather updates. You will also have access to customized information relevant to your particular beach, such as amenities, lifeguards, how to get there, and where to park.

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.

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

To receive updates on new Swim Guide features and special offers, subscribe to our newsletter.


4. How do I know if my beach meets water quality standards?

Beach water quality is like the weather: it changes all the time. That’s why it is important to check water quality every time you plan a trip to the beach.

Bacteria is the main indicator of beach water quality problems. When bacteria levels are high, your risk of contracting an illness is higher, and fish and birds may be threatened. When bacteria levels are low, people and wildlife are safer.

Water samples are collected and bacteria levels are compared to the regional government standards. Each beach is given a “pass” or “fail” rating until the next samples are collected. Swim Guide collects this information from government, nonprofit, corporate, and Swim Drink Fish’s own monitoring programs and shares it with you.

On each beach page, you will see a little swimmer icon. Based on the colour of this icon, you will know instantly whether your beach has met government water quality standards.

Current Status:

When swimming season is over, or when a beach’s water quality data has not been updated on the normal schedule (e.g., weekly), it goes into historical status. This means that rather than displaying out-of-date data, it displays the beach’s average water quality for that year.

Historical 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 the beach status “special.”

Special Status:

On each beach page, you will also find information about when your beach was last tested and which Swim Guide affiliate is responsible for verifying the water quality at this location.

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


5. What do I do if I notice a problem at my 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.)

Simply find your beach on Swim Guide, and click the “Report Pollution” button. Fill out the short form and submit it to our team. We will be in touch as soon as possible to address your concern.

As well as guiding you to the best swimming spots, Swim Guide is dedicated to identifying sources of water pollution so that together we can act to restore and maintain swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters.


6. How can I help to keep Swim Guide going?

Swim Guide is run by a small non-profit. In order to keep Swim Guide free, we need your help. Please donate to Swim Guide today. Every dollar helps!

About Swim Drink Fish

Swim Guide is a Swim Drink Fish initiative. Swim Drink Fish is a nonprofit organization working to connect people with water since 2001. We use citizen science and communications technology to inspire people just like you to know and safeguard your local waters.

Our apps and programs can help you get to the water’s edge. They’ll connect you with the water and with other people. We can teach you to monitor the health of your water. Together, we’ll advocate for the protection and restoration of the places we love.

Because everyone has a right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.

Learn more at www.swimdrinkfish.ca.

The Royal Bank of Canada is a premier partner of Swim Drink Fish through their ‘Tech for Nature’ program and the RBC Foundation. With RBC’s support, Swim Guide has been able to expand its capacity and develop new tools on its platforms, including pollution reporting tools, new beach submission tools, and new beach navigation features. Read more about Swim Drink Fish’s partnership with RBC.

Swim Guide
is supported by
* The RBC Foundation

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 SWIM DRINK FISH CANADA.| See Legal.