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No more swimming outside the lines at Walden Pond, what with all the drownings all over

Effective right this second, DCR is banning all swimming outside designated areas at Walden Pond. And don't even think of sneaking in an open-water swim after the lifeguards leave at 6 p.m., the state says.

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One of the open-water swimmers’ groups is trying to put together a petition against this:
“There is an open letter from the open water swimming community asking for this to be changed. You can add your name.”https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I92TlhN0THCfeTCjPo87HQC3_bDqOt7Da8ar...

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The petitioners proposed a great alternative: a rule requiring open water swim buoys, a floatation device harnessed around your waist which trails behind you as you swim.

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Kneejerk solution to a real problem, but not at Walden Pond.

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Let’s be specific about what the real problem is. Because if the real problem is “water is something in which people can drown,” it’s not immediately clear that this is a problem that government needs to solve.

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This is a very clear and fundamental case wherein we get to define the relationship between the government and the people. Swimming in open water has risks. So does eating bacon cheeseburgers. So does riding a motorcycle, with or without a helmet.

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Granted, if this will be enforced the same way as fireworks or speeding, then swimmers who act appropriately deferential to the laws of nature have nothing to worry about.

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Granted, if this will be enforced the same way as fireworks or speeding, then white swimmers who appear to be mainstream middle class and who act appropriately deferential to the police have nothing to worry about. unless some cop is having a bad day

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Politicians pass rules, people protest rules, Police are called to enforce rules.Police get labeled brutes and racists for enforcing political policies. What would Henry David Thoreau do?

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What would Henry David Thoreau do?

Thoreau would comment on uhub.

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Let’s close all the beaches.

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It's the Fourth of July weekend!

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Nah, the water is fine...

IMAGE(https://www.themarysue.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Mayor-Larry-Vaughn-From-Jaws-Is-Basically-Every-Politician-Reopening.jpg)

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Is DCR judge, jury, and executioner, or could lawmakers override this?

I realize it's a fantasy to think that Beacon Hill would decree open-water swimming at Walden ok, but just wondering...

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The DCR sets their regulations, and their rangers and various police enforce it. I'm not sure what kind of ticket you'd get, or if you'd be arrested, which would determine the type of hearing or trial (if any).

State legislation created the DCR, so the legislature could change any of this.

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Any body of water more than 10 acres (Walden is 61) is a "Great Pond" which must be open to fishing and boating per statute/common law.

If someone tied a very small boat to myself and went swimming, they might be able to claim that they were boating and that their rights to use a Great Pond had been infringed.

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Is DCR really going to enforce this ban after 6 pm?

If enforcement at Turtle Pond is any guide, I'd guess not.

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IDK about Turtle Pond, but state cops on horseback have been patrolling Walden after closing for years (unless they've stopped since the last time I snuck in and swam after dark.) They have stables in nearby Acton. If they caught you in the reservation after closing they'd typically just order you to leave, unless you were doing something else they didn't like. With this order, they might get more strict.

As for the order, they've been leading up to this for a long time. Their landscaping and fencing project some years back served to eliminate a lot of places that people used to enter the water, and places they liked to sunbathe. It became a much more restricted place after that. It looked like a reaction to the Connecticut-based group Walden Forever Wild's agenda to turn the place into a nature preserve, with hiking the only human recreation allowed. To the point of their name, Walden hasn't been "wild" since Thoreau's time, and if I'm not mistaken, swimming is explicitly part of the reservation's charter. [Edit: I'm not mistaken, although the word used is "bathing."] Whether restricting swimming to the one roped-off area violates that provision is something for a lawyer to argue.

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Every year a couple of people die because they get a cramp in the middle of Walden, and they are either too far from shore or it's too early in the AM to be noticed. But we've known that for years and there's no reason to change now, other than PR.

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It also happens in pretty much every body of swimmable water. Maybe more often in Walden, because it's close to the city, and thus visited more. A lot of people who are into swimming prefer to do long stretches of open water, and not limit themselves to doing laps in a pool.

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Drownings do happen as Walden Pond, but not a couple a year as you state - more like 3 every four or so years. Of those that I am aware, none are true open water swimmers, but waders or nearly-swimmers straying out of their depth.

Also, getting cramp while swimming does not equal drowning (as any long distance swimmer will attest!)

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Of those that I am aware, none are true open water swimmers, but waders or nearly-swimmers straying out of their depth.

Well, the ones I'm aware of were trying to swim across the width of the pond, parallel to the official beach but halfway to the other end. My memory's impression is that at least some of them were definitely "true open water swimmers." Some may have been casual swimmers exceeding their limits, but none were non-swimmers or "nearly-swimmers," whatever that is.

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There have been a lot of drowning this year and DCR is panicking.

Having been a lifeguard, it's pretty stressful if you do your job correctly.

If this were a temporary ban while they try to figure out how to fully train more lifeguards, improve signage, remove potential hazards, or whatever else to make sure we don't have too many tragedies, then I would support it.

I would support it if the release said something along the lines of "Please respect the hardworking lifeguards and EMS personnel. Even though lifeguards aren't legally responsible for you in open water, your presence is an added distraction and could potentially contribute to a hazardous situation. During the up coming 4th of July weekend and for two weeks while we determine appropriate actions, we are banning swimming in open water at {insert name of body of water, since it probably isn't only Walden}."

As it is, this will just upset people and increase focus on anyone who is not in the designated swimming areas. This was not well thought out or well presented.

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Feel free to swim all the way to Spain. I know this is coming from good intentions but it's just the same reasoning used to close Jamaica Pond to swimming, spread across all ponds under DCR control.

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I totally agree. They completely screwed up. And... I have always wanted to visit Portugal...

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The same people that say no "walk ins or drop offs" when parking has reached capacity. Hardly enforced. Doubt anyone will notice. Also, the older, well to do, highly educated crowd that swims here year round? They are unlikely to follow the rules.

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It's a short walk into the place from several parking spots, and a bunch of entries. It's not like it's surrounded by miles of wilderness. One summer, they put a couple of kids and a card table by the sidewalk on Rte 126, trying to collect admission fees from pedestrians. That didn't last.

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especially from commuter trains, which will start running again on weekends tomorrow.

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Say I bike to Walden and enter through the woods as I'm wont to do.

Can they really stop me from swimming crosswise on the far end of the pond?

If anything, you could imagine that this rule would disincentive folks from using floatation, since those trailing buoys increase your visibility.

Stupid nonsense.

Here's a public policy: enforce the speed limit on Center Street in Westie.

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There are a lot of homeless people congregating on Boston Common. As a result, we should put up "no loitering" signs in Belmont. Makes just as much sense.

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You can text SIGN PXSNVF to 50409 to sign this petition to or use Resistbot to contact him yourself

Swimming is a healthy activity enjoyed safely every day by thousands of Massachusetts residents. Please do not limit access to our public waters and do not fine people for swimming outside designated waterfronts. If you believe in freedom and personal responsibility, government having a larger role in promoting health and safety, or all of the above, I hope you will agree that limiting healthy recreational access to our public waters is the wrong answer.

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several poor swimmers trying to escape 100' temps have sadly drown recently.

So by all means, let's prevent tri-athletes from training. Asinine over-reaction.

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I have observed that swimmers at Walden Pond are pretty dense about swimming near the boat ramp. Evidently they think that they are highly visible, especially when they swim behind the stern of a boat that, yes indeed, can go backwards as well as forwards. Talk about the nanny state all you want, some of these people really do need minders.

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Power boats are prohibited from Walden. Electric trolling motors are allowed, but move pretty slowly. Sailboats are faster.

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This has zeros to do with the discussion at hand.

Not to mention that most boats I've seen using the boat ramp area are canoes and kayaks.

(Swimmers at) Walden Pond are pretty dense about swimming near the boat ramp.

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This has zeros to do with the discussion at hand.

Not sure what "zeros" is, but nah.

Not to mention that most boats I've seen using the boat ramp area are canoes and kayaks.

You seem to be under the quaint misapprehension that no harm can come to a swimmer from an encounter with a non-motorized boat.

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Talk about strawmen

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Talk about strawmen

You really do not have the first idea of what a strawman is, do you?

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Gaffin will post items about bodies dropping from gun violence in "those' neighborhoods and not a single comment.

Tell a bunch of white people in lily white Concord they can't swim across Walden for their IG and it's this outrage will not stand!

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You’re creating a dichotomy where one doesn’t exist.

What’s your point? That the people getting riled up about this ban should focus all of their ire on the problem of urban gun violence?

Why racialize this?

Also, a large share these swimmers aren’t from “lily white” Concord.

Is your real grievance just with the basic fact that this is a (presumably) primarily white cohort mobilizing for something not explicitly connected to the political topics du jour? Would it be ok if this group was largely not white and were protesting last year’s park closures in the city?

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