The Long Bridge SwimCycle Hard for Education - CHaFE 150

About the Long Bridge Swim


Founded by local swimming enthusiast Eric Ridgway, the Long Bridge Swim has grown from the first group of 68 friends swimming across Lake Pend Oreille in 1995 to 722 swimmers in 2016. The Long Bridge Swim is held the first Saturday in August and attracts a wide range of swimmers. Thus far over 9,000 swimmers have successfully completed the Swim, including children as young as 7 and a number of swimmers in their 80s, and a local 86 year-old in 2008!

Safety Requirements

Safety is the number one concern of the Long Bridge Swim. Participants should be comfortable in the water and know how to swim. No flotation devices such as kick boards, life preservers (personal flotation devices), "floaties", "noodles", etc., are permitted. Swimmers are encouraged to consider wearing a wetsuit, especially young children and smaller and/or older adults who may have more difficulty regulating their body temperatures over a prolonged period of time in 60 to 70 degree water.

Safety Protocol

The Long Bridge Swim has a multi-layered safety system, designed to monitor swimmers' progress and assist those who are too tired or cold to complete the Swim. Each year over 90 safety kayakers paddle the course alongside the swimmers, most on the east side of the swimmers and the balance under the pedestrian Long Bridge to prevent swimmers from crossing under the Bridge. Additionally, volunteer spotters are positioned on the Pedestrian Long Bridge to monitor swimmers' progress.

If a swimmer becomes too tired or cold to complete the Swim or has a medical emergency or other problem, the safety kayaker nearest the swimmer will offer aid, most often in the form of giving the swimmer a tow a short distance to a personal water craft (jet ski) that will then take the swimmer to a power boat to be transported to Dog Beach. There the swimmer may receive medical attention at the medical tent or transported to Bonner General Hospital in an emergency.

Safety Record and Rules

Since the first year of the Swim in 1995, no swimmer (or spectator) has been seriously injured or suffered any life-threatening condition as a result of participation in the Long Bridge Swim. Our goal is to maintain this record of safety. To accomplish this, the Long Bridge Swim needs the support of participants and spectators. Please help us keep the Swim safe (and therefore fun) by adhering to the following rules. All swimmers must:

  1. Register for the Swim.
  2. Attend the required safety meeting at 8:00 a.m. on race day.
  3. Wear LBS issued numbered swim caps during the Swim.
  4. Follow all instructions issued by Long Bridge Swim officials.
  5. Agree to cease swimming and leave the water if a safety kayaker or other official safety personnel determines that the swimmer should not or cannot complete the swim for whatever reason.

Why Swim Across Lake Pend Oreille?

Eric founded the Swim to serve as a fun community event and it is still that at its core. Many swimmers also enjoy the sense of accomplishment from swimming the 1.76 miles across the largest lake in Idaho. In 2010 the Long Bridge Swim began raising money to support swim lessons for local kids and adults who do not know how to swim. Please see LBS Benefits Swim Lessons and Be A Sponsor for more information on how you can support this cause or go to Donate to LBS to make a contribution for swim lessons.