Practice Swims

Come and join other open water swimmers preparing for VOWSA’s swim series. These practices at Kitsilano Beach are perfect opportunities to meet new people and familiarize yourself with the challenges that await you in the open water. Distances vary (1 – 4 km) depending on your goals. You should be comfortable swimming 1 km in a pool.

Water temperature in English Bay varies over the season from about 14C at the start of June up to a high of 20C near the end of August. Upwellings of colder water around the course can be refreshing on a hot day, but we do advise wearing a wetsuit both for warmth and flotation.

2014 Season

Practice swims will begin in June and run on Mondays and Thursdays until late August.

Swim Course

The swim course circles Kits Bay inside of the powerboat exclusion zone. A map of the approximate course is available here; though movement of buoys due to tides and snags will alter the course over the season.

Location & Time

  • Sign-in can be found near the main tower, by the trees, near the boat house restaurant. – Map
  • Practices are every* Mondays and Thursdays beginning at 6:00 pm for safety briefing and sign-in.
  • Swims start at 6:30 pm; VOWSA lifeguard supervision from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.

*No swims on statutory holidays

What to bring

  • Completed Practice Swim Waiver *
  • Drop in fee or have paid for Seasons Pass – see costs below
  • A parent or coach if you are under 19
  • Brightly coloured swim cap (not white)
  • Swim suit
  • Wetsuit (not mandatory but a really good idea)
  • Whistle
  • A warm change of clothing for post swim

You should be comfortable swimming 1000 metres (40 laps in a 25m pool) and have all the recommended safety items.

*You can complete a waiver at the beach, but bringing your own will save us time.

Costs & Seasons Pass

Drop-in fee is $5 CAD per swim or $45 CAD for a Season Pass.

Registration & payment for the seasons pass is only available onlineto register, click here.
We cannot accept Season Pass registration at the beach. You can pay a drop-in fee at the beach.

**Register for a seasons pass before June 30th and receive a special “Treat of the Week” from Whole Foods Market Kitsilano every week all season long!**


Change rooms, washrooms, cold outdoor showers (!), concession stand, pay parking lot (very limited free on-street parking).

We do not always have a volunteer to watch your gear while you swim, so prepare to leave valuables in your vehicle or lock them with your bicycle on the beach.

Coached Training with SeaHiker

Struggling with open water swimming or feeling out of your depth? Check out Sea Hiker courses to get your skills and improve your open water confidence. Click here for more information.


Don’t have a wetsuit?  A great place to rent or purchase a wetsuit is West Point Multisport.  They are located at 3780 West 10th Avenue (South side of the street, between Alma and Highbury).  They also carry a wide selection of swim caps, goggles, swim suits and other swimming accessories, as well as triathlon products.  You can contact them at 604-569-1102 or by email at Please mention you heard of them through VOWSA.

For more information, check out our wetsuit sponsor page.