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China Camp Swimming – San Rafael California Open Water Swimming

China Camp Swimming

China Camp Swimming FAQ

Who is the China Camp Swim Club?
How do I join?
What is the cost?
When are the swims?
Where are the swims?
What level of experience do I need?
Is it dangerous?
Where is China Camp?
Is there parking fee?
What are the facilities like?
How can I join the e-mail list?

Who is the China Camp Swim Club?
There is no formal organization. We are a group of people who enjoy
swimming at China Camp and have decided that it is best not to swim
alone. China Camp is open year-round to anyone who wants to go. Everyone
swims at their own risk.

How do I join?
Those who wish to consider themselves part of the China Camp Swim
Club may do so without permission from anyone. The Topica list is
open to all but blatant spammers. If you want to swim at China Camp,
do so anytime you wish. If you show up during a suggested time you
are likely to meet other swimmers.

What is the cost?
China Camp is a State Park and they do collect a parking
. Because there is no formal organization, nobody collects
any other fee.

When are the swims?
Because China Camp is quite shallow, swimming is not possible (or at least not pleasant) at very low tides. Therefore a fixed schedule
is not possible.
Swimmers can schedule suggested group swims and other swimming opportunities via an e-mail list. Subscribe here http://www.topica.com/lists/chinacampswims for instructions on how to subscribe go here.

What level of experience do I need?
You should be able to swim one mile in the pool without stopping before attempting any open water swim. The ability to swim constantly for 45 minutes is also important. The swimmers that I’ve seen at China Camp vary in speed from "incredibly fast" to "leisurely". Because swims start and end at the beach you can make your course as long or as short as you desire. A typical swim around Rat Rock might take 30 minutes to an hour depending on the currents.

Is it dangerous?
Yes. All open water swimming is dangerous. The biggest danger is being struck by a speedboat. Wear a bright yellow, orange or pink cap to reduce this risk slightly. China Camp has no lifeguard, but there are some features that make it a good choice for first time open water swimmers: Warmer water; long stretch of beach to get out; shallow water, reduced current, and often there are some experienced folks around happy to answer questions

Where is China Camp?
San Pablo Bay, In Marin County, East of San Rafael.
We swim from the beach immediately in front of the LOWER parking lot
of China Camp Village, which is the historic site in the park. The
landmark is the pier pictured above.

Directions To China Camp
From South of San Rafael:
Exit Highway 101 at Central San Rafael.

Take 1st right off exit ramp onto 2nd Street (at Shell Gas Station,
you will be traveling East).

Continue East past Montecito Shopping Center. 2nd Street will turn into
San Pedro Road.

Continue on San Pedro Road approximately 5 miles until you see
the sign for “China Camp Village” on the right.

From North of San Rafael:

Exit Highway 101 at North San
Pedro Road (the exit north of downtown exit, by the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed
Civic Center)

Go east on North San Pedro Road.approximately 7 miles until you
see the sign for “China Camp Village”on the left.


Is there a parking

China Camp is a State park and they do collect parking fees.
To avoid the $3 State Park day use fee, one can try to park in the off
street gravel lot and walk down. Otherwise, you can drive down to the
lower lot and pay the $3* into the a metal tube located at the bottom
of the hill where the paved road meets the LOWER lot. Some of us have
purchased state park annual passes The park rangers can do this and
its a good way to earn there friendship.

What are the facilities like?
China Camp Village has real bathrooms with running water and
flush toilets. Changing rooms are also available when unlocked. Ther
is an outdoor cold shower and genuine garden hose for rinsing off. During
certain hours there’s a museum and snack bar. The beach is gravel and
water shoes are recommended for those with tender feet. Water tmperature
is five to ten degrees warmer than San Francisco’s Aquatic Park. On
one hot day during an ebbtide it’s been as warm as 75 degrees. In winter,
the rumor is that it gets 5 to 10 degrees colder than Aquatic Park.
Great for those planning Antarctic, Bearing Strait and Beagle Channel
swims. (You know who you are!) for more info go to the official China
Camp State Park Website

How can I join the e-mail list?
The best way for everyone to stay informed is through an e-mail list. The China Camp swimmers use Topica. You
can subscribe by going here: