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Can You Swim In The Hudson River in 2023? (Guide + Rules To Follow)

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It is possible to swim in the 315-mile long Hudson River! Furthermore, you can bathe, drag on a tube, water ski, jet-ski, paddleboard, and kayak in this river that travels through New York City. 

This article highlights the water activities associated with the Hudson River, places safe for swimming, safety tips, and rules to follow, plus astonishing facts relating to the river.

Swimming In The Hudson River

Wondering how it'd feel to swim in the beautiful hudson river valley

Most visitors choose the summer months to enjoy the Hudson River when the temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If seeking a less populated time of year to visit the Hudson, it is advisable to go during September and October. 

The most vital thing to remember as you swim in the Hudson is to stay clear of areas with boat and vessel traffic and dredging operations, as the PolyChlorinated Biphenyls or PCB levels at these points could be higher. 

Since the 19th and early 20th centuries, every summer, millions of people would swim the Hudson River until abandoned due to liability concerns, increasing rigid public health codes, costs to run beach properties, and worsening quality conditions. 

Now, limited numbers venture to enjoy the water and water events at the declining number of facilities. Even though this is the cleanest, the river has been in the previous 30 years. 

Swimming events include the New York City Triathlon, the Hudson Crossing Triathlon, the Great Hudson River Swim, the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, the Liberty to Freedom Swim, and the 20 Bridges 40 Bridges swim.

Most, if not all of these swimming events begin, finish, or pass by the Statue of Liberty. Contrary to popular belief, it is legal to swim near the statue. 

Water Sports In The Hudson River

Besides swimming, individuals can enjoy other activities such as Boating at the North Brooklyn, Central Park, and Sandy Hook. Jet Skiing along Governors Island, Statue of Liberty, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and Ellis Island. 

Kayaking under the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan. Scuba Diving along Long Island and New Jersey. Surfing, Paddleboarding, Skateboarding in Rockaway Beach. 

scuba diver showing his fingers under water which looks beautiful

Paddle Boating in the LeFrak Center in Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Meadow Lake. Kiteboarding at Seagate, Plumb Beach, Breezy Point, Rockaway Beach, and Oak Beach. These beaches are also perfect to shine your belly button piercing & ears piercing

There are so many water sports to enjoy Hudson river so don’t forget to take your apple watch or Fitbit to keep track of heart rate and many other swimming features.

Water Sports Tips, Rules, Guidelines

Pleasure boats, including rowboats, canoes, and kayaks, must have one wearable US Coast Guard certified Personal Floating Device (PFD) for everyone. 

  • Children 12 years old and under should wear a US Coast Guard certified Type 1, 2, or 3 PFD once on the vessel.
  • Adhere to all posted signs relating to hours of use and closures
  • No one can operate a water vessel while intoxicated or impaired through consuming drugs or alcohol.
  • Within 100 feet of the shoreline, there is a five mph restriction on vessel speed.
  • There is to be no towing of any boat of any kind. 
  • Additional caution is required when close to dams and larger watercraft.
  • While a vessel is in motion, there should be no jumping or diving off them.
  • Obey No Wake Zones at all times.
  • Be aware of forecasted and current weather. 
  • A mobile phone charged entirely in a waterproof container should be on board.
  • Take all trash off the vessels and dispose of it appropriately.
  • There are designated launch sites for each type of vessel. 
  • Avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water[source].
  • Wash your hands after swimming, especially before eating, and shower when finished swimming[source].

Related: Can you swim in the Amazon River?

Water Quality

Even though the Department of Environmental Conservation for New York tests the river frequently for fecal bacteria and reports that it is generally safe to swim in, they advise swimmers not to submerge their heads in the water. This precaution reduces their exposure to parasites, bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms that could result in sickness.

Although this is no longer the current situation, factories close to the Hudson River once dumped all their waste into the river. The Clean Water Act, being passed in 1972, saw much-needed improvement in the water’s condition. 

The government in February 2002 issued a Record of Decision calling for targeted dredging of roughly 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB.[source]

One of the large companies, General Electric, spent over $1 billion dredging suspected areas for toxins.

According to Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization, most of the Hudson River is clean to swim in, except for a few areas of concern, due to bacterial contamination. 

In 2018, the New York State Clean Water Infrastructure Act committed over $320 million to sewers’ improvement and water quality in the Hudson River. [source]

After this, the Environmental Protection Agency will conduct 5-year reviews on operation, maintenance, and monitoring. There will be water column monitoring, sediment monitoring, fish monitoring, habitat monitoring, and cap monitoring. 

What Lies At The Bottom of The Hudson River?

At its deepest, the Hudson River measures 203 feet. Although not very deep, there are still quite a few things buried under the water. 

According to Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, there are over 300 shipwrecks considered to be archaeological sites. One memorable wreck is a cabin cruiser lying on a flattened, considerably older vessel.

There is also a Freight Train, some surveillance systems operated by the United States Coast Guard, a 350-foot Steamship, striped cars, and ice-cream trucks, the remains of Dreamland, and 1,600 bars of Silver, said to weigh roughly 100 pounds each. 

Historical & Interesting Facts About The Hudson River

Passenger plane passing over the hudson river on a bright sunny day that looks more stunning because of the sun rays reflecting in the river

On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III turned a would-be disaster into a miracle but landing US Airways Flight 1549 safely.

  1. Not only is it a river, but it is an estuary, meaning that waters enter from several sources. 
  2. On old nautical maps, the Hudson River had the label of North River.
  3. January 17, 1780 – considered the coldest winter in New Jersey history, the Hudson River froze over. [source]
  4. A floating church once was moored in Manhattan, on Pike Street. 
  5. Over 200 species of fish call this river home, including Naked Goby, Striped Searobin, and Northern Pike. The occasional Humpback whale and Bull Shark are spotted when they stray from the ocean. 
  6. The Hudson River Bridge would have dwarfed the Woolworth Building, but no construction began. 
  7. Mahicantuck was the name of The Hudson River before the 16th century. It means the river that flows two ways.
  8. Approximately 59 dead bodies are discovered annually in the Hudson River. Most mysterious are the deaths of the Saudi sisters, Tala and Rotana Farea, found on October 24, 2018. [source]

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