Massachusetts gives swimming rules at Walden Pond

Seven new rules were proposed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) – Massachusetts has developed some rules for people who want to swim across Walden Pond, an activity which has long been barred, but ignored by endurance swimmers.

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, says the rules were developed with the help of open-water swimmers with safety in mind.

In an effort to make the pond safer for swimmers and boaters alike, DCR held meetings this summer with swimmers, boaters, and fishermen to draft a set of rules, a set of best practices, and a swimming self-assessment. Public safety officials were also involved in the process, Geigis said, and the Walden Pond Advisory Board approved the draft after it was finished.

She told The Boston Globe 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.”

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. Open-water swimmers would also be required to obey lifeguards.

The new rules were to be presented to the public Tuesday night in Concord. DCR will collect public input through Nov. 21 before open-water swimming is authorized and the rules go into effect.

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