You can never predict when summer really starts in Seattle. But one exciting measure hints at fun times on the way: the return of swim rafts and lifeguards to the shores of Lake Washington.

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Sketched June 21, 2017

You can never predict when summer really starts in Seattle. This year, it’s kicking off with a heat wave. Other years June gloom lasts past the Fourth of July.

Given that unpredictability, I’ve started telling people that summer in Seattle starts when the Police Department’s Harbor Patrol puts the swim rafts back in place at Lake Washington public beaches. And it ends when they store them away after Labor Day.

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Earlier this week, I caught up with part of the crew that takes care of the towing just as they were done tying up one of the rafts at Madison Park Beach. Sgt. Mike Pugel said the summer process is faster because they don’t have to spend time securing all the floating platforms together in Andrews Bay, by Seward Park.

Seattle Parks Department employee Nathan Wendells said the summer tow is more exciting because the department’s lifeguards are eager to start their duty on the beaches. He said you can expect to see them at work starting this Saturday.

Happy summer, everyone, and remember to swim safely!