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Poet's Beach will have life guards, swim rope along Willamette River's west banks

Portland is planning to staff Poet's Beach with lifeguards seven days a week over the summer. (SBG photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland is getting a new swimming hole - officially, anyway.

Poet's Beach is just below the Marquam bridge, on the west side of the river near River Place.

The official sign is up, and volunteers were raking to ready Poet's Beach for swimmers.

"We brought an idea to the city. We got support behind it," said Willie Levenson with the Human Access Project.

Its goal is to give people access to the river.

"The Willamette River is owned by the citizens of Oregon. It's our largest public open space, and you know after 50 plus years of work, the Willamette is now safe for swimming, and that is something to celebrate," Levenson said.

"The Willamette River's clean enough for swimming, boating, other summer fun. You can find out for yourself because we test, Environmental Services tests, every week during the summer at five popular locations," said Diane Dulken, the spokesperson for Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services.

It's always been swim at your own risk, but now AMR will staff two river rescue guards - who are also trained EMTs and paramedics - through Labor Day.

They'll have life jackets available, and will put in a swim rope. The designated area at its deepest is about five feet.

"When you add water to anything, it makes everything exponentially more fun. So that's the future of Portland. We're about to become a lot more livable," said Levenson.

Life guards will be on duty beginning Wednesday, July 12, 2017 from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m.

And, if you want to watch the mayor jump in, as he's a big supporter of the project, you can head down Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 10:10 a.m. (he's squeezing in his swim between city council meetings).

RELATED | Mayor proposes Portland's 1st official beach along Willamette

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