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State OKs rules for swimming across Walden Pond

October 29, 2014

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts has developed guidelines for people who have long ignored a rule that bars swimming across Walden Pond.

The proposed rules were developed with the help of open-water swimmers with safety in mind, said Priscilla Geigis, director of state parks for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that oversees the park made famous by Henry David Thoreau. The Walden Pond Advisory Board approved them.

The goals of the new rules are “managing swimming as a recreational activity at Walden Pond and balancing it with other recreational activities, mainly boating,” she told The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1rSueAn ).

Swimming currently is allowed only in designated areas close to shore.

The seven proposed rules include a ban on open-water swimmers from coming within 100 feet of the boat launch area and other designated swim spots on the 61-acre, 100-foot deep pond.

Open-water swimmers would also be required to obey lifeguards stationed at the pond from May until September.

Other guidelines include wearing a brightly colored swim cap to be more visible to boaters and other swimmers, and completing a swimming self-assessment, full of questions swimmers can ask themselves to determine if they will be safe in open water.

“First of all, everything has been clarified instead of whispered about or disregarded,” said Linda Allen, a member of the Walden Pond Advisory Board and a recreational open-water swimmer who played a role in forming the rules. “The clarification and the change in the way the pond has been marked enables everyone to be very clear about where swimming is safe.”

The new rules were to be presented to the public next week in Concord. The state will accept public input through Nov. 21 before open-water swimming is authorized and the rules go into effect.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com

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