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Web Buzz: Beach app gives the scoop on clean water

The Swim Guide app gives clean-water updates on the beaches, lakes and rivers in places like California, the Great Lakes, the East and the South.

August 05, 2012|By Jen Leo

Wait! Don't get sick from swimming. See if the water is clean before you dive in.

Name: Swim Guide

Available for: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android

What it does: The app helps you find clean water at beaches, lakes and rivers in California, the Great Lakes, the East and the South, as well as in British Columbia, Canada. Includes descriptions, photos and color-coded safety warnings.

Cost: Free

What's hot: The corresponding website didn't work for me, but the app was terrific. Not only did it tell me where the closest beaches were to my location, but I could quickly expand the map and look up and down the California coast or jump to the East Coast. The swim status of the beach also was easy to read: Green means it is open, yellow means the beach was open 60%-95% during the swimming season, and red means the beach is unsafe for swimming. The information is managed by the Waterkeeper Alliance and draws from 90 agencies monitoring 2,200 beaches daily.

What's not: If you do find a beach with a red-label warning, such as China Camp Beach in the San Francisco Bay Area, the user wonders why he or she shouldn't go in. It's great that it tells you when the warning was placed, but can we trust an app that says only "the latest results indicate the beach is unsafe for swimming"?

Worth it: Yes. And Hertz is working on integrating the Swim Guide into car navigation systems so that it will be at the ready when you rent one of its cars for your next beach vacation.


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