IF YOU prefer to gaze at the beautiful lakes that surround our lovely home rather than experience their sometimes bone-chilling depths, I’m with you. I like to dip my toes in from the safety of a paddleboard.

Yet, I sometimes plunge into Lake Washington. I’ve enjoyed (in short bursts) a dip in Elliott Bay, and I admire the hardy souls who swim across Green Lake.

I never regret jumping in, no matter how brisk the experience. For those of you who have considered swimming outside, or are determined to make this the year of the triathlon, there are not many excuses to stay away. The cities adjacent to Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish and other places with lots of beachfront make it easy to jump in and work on your flutter kick with lifeguards keeping watch. Many cities also offer outdoor swim lessons, and Seattle has free classes for ages 6 to 16.

Some of the beaches have swim lanes, some do not. Look them up before you head out. And if you need a slightly tamer first step, you can always get some extra rays at outdoor public pools.

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Free youth swim lessons: Monday-Friday 12:15-12:45 p.m. Evening lessons Monday and Thursday, 6-6:30 p.m. at Pritchard, Seward, Mount Baker and Madrona beaches.

Beach hours: noon-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, June 21-Sept. 1.


West Green Lake, 7312 W. Green Lake Dr. (closes Aug. 24)

East Green Lake, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr.

Madison, 1900 43rd Ave. E.

Matthews, 9300 51st Ave. N.E.

Madrona, 800 Lake Washington Blvd. S.

Magnuson, N.E. 65th St. and Sand Point Way N.E.

Mount Baker, 2301 Lake Washington Blvd. S.

Pritchard, 8400 55th Ave. S.

Seward Park, 5850 Lake Washington Blvd. S.

More info: 206-684-4075 or www.seattle.gov/Parks/beaches.asp


Meydenbauer Beach Park: opens June 21, noon-7 p.m., 419 98th Ave. N.E.

Newcastle Beach Park: opens June 21, (times not listed), 4400 Lake Washington Blvd. N.E.

Chism Beach Park: opens June 28, noon-7 p.m., 9600 S.E. 11th St.

Clyde Beach Park: opens June 28, noon-7 p.m., 2-92nd Ave. N.E.

Enatai Beach Park: opens June 28, noon-7 p.m., 3519 S.E. 108th Ave. S.E.

Chesterfield Beach Park: opens June 28, 2-5 p.m., weather permitting, 2501 100th Ave. S.E.

More info: 425-452-4444 or www.ci.bellevue.wa.us


Lake Sammamish State Park: Open daily, 6:30 a.m. to dusk; Northwest Lake Sammamish Road and 17th Avenue Northwest.

More info: 425-649-4275


Idylwood Beach Park: 3650 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway N.E.

More info: 425-556-2900 or www.ci.redmond.wa.us


Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park: Beach opens mid-June, noon to 8 p.m. through Labor Day; 1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N.

More info: 425-430-6700 or www.Rentonwa.gov


Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Silver Lake: Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily mid-June through Labor Day; 11405 Silver Lake Road.

More info: 425-257-8300 or www.ci.everett.wa.us


Lake Meridian Park: Lifeguards on duty 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from mid-June through early September; 14800 S.E. 272nd St.

More info: 253-856-5000 or www.kentwa.gov


Peter Kirk Pool, Kirkland, 340 Kirkland Ave. Open June 2-Sept. 1; 425-587-3335 or www.kirklandwa.gov.

Mounger Pool, 2535 32nd Ave. W., Seattle. Opened May 10; 206-684-4708 or www.seattle.gov.

Colman Pool, 8603 Fauntleroy Way S.W., Seattle. Reopened Memorial Day weekend. Saltwater pool in Lincoln Park open daily starting June 14. 206-684-7494 or www.seattle.gov.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center, 1719 Maple Valley Highway, Renton. Open June 21, noon-3:30 p.m. and 4-7:30 p.m. daily. 425-430-6780 or www.rentonwa.gov.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com.