Cheshire County Water Polo and Swimming Association

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Open Water Swims

Brief Information on some of the Open Water Swims in Great Britain

Remember don’t swim in lakes alone always have support in the form of a canoe or boat.

Budworth Mere

This lake is in the heart of rural Cheshire on the outskirts of Northwich next to Marbury Country Park. Warrington Dolphins LDSC run swims in this lake with the permission of Budworth Sailing Club. Warrington Dolphins hold three swims a year here, the main swim being on the 1st Saturday in June. One circuit of the lake is 1 mile. At Budworth Championship there are 3 races, a novice 1mile, a Junior 2mile & a Senior 3mile race. Other swims held are a 1mile handicap race mid May and a Boxing Day Dip.

Albert Dock (Liverpool)

There are two races held here each year the Ivan Percival held on the last Saturday in May organised by City of Liverpool SC and the other held in early August organised by Warrington Dolphins LDSC. The swims in fact do not enter Albert Dock but swim in the larger Salthouse, Brunswick and Queens Docks. The setting is most fantastic swimming in front of the restored picturesque warehouses now deluxe flats and offices. Spectating the swim is very easy particularly from on top of the three bridges that cross the course. The water is salt water and is extremely clean. The bottom can be seen in places. This is an excellent swim and liked by nearly everyone.

Coniston Water

This is probably one of the most loved venues in the country. Swims takes place below the magnificent Old Man of Coniston and passes Ruskin’s House, Coniston Hall and Peel Island where the book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ was based on. There are three races held a year on the lake. The senior race swims the entire 5.25 length of the lake as does the Junior race. However, the Veterans race (3.25miles) swims the middle section. The lake has good access at may points including from the Coniston Hall campsite. There is a speed limit on the National Trust lake and additionally there are not many sailing boats on the lake.

Llyn Padarn

Over looked by Snowdon and Elidir Fawr and adjacent to the Dinorwig Slate works, this is a very popular swimming venue. The lake is in Llamberis, North Wales. Three races are held here on the last Saturday in July. These races are organised by Howe Bridge Marlins. The first race starts from the stone bridge at the Northwest end of the lake and finishes at Padarn Country Park a distance of 2 miles away. At lunch time a 1000m race starts and finishes at Padarn Park. The third race staring after the completion of the 1000m race is a 4mile race from Padarn Park to the stone bridge and back. A Presentation Disco completes the day in a Hotel in Llamberis. Many of the swimmers camp locally to the swim, making a weekend of the event.

Bala ( Llyn Tegid)

Situated in the Snowdonia National Park, the lake is the source of the River Dee. The lake is over looked by mountains and is located just outside Bala Town. Bala is the second longest lake in Wales and is 3 miles long. There are at least 4 races held on this lake. A 2 way senior race is usually held on the second Saturday in July. This race starts at the Public Beach at the Town end and turns at the head of the lake. Prior to this swim there is a 1000m Novice race. The third race starts at the upper end of the lake and swims back towards the Town. This race is open to both Junior and Senior. There is also an Inter-services race which is a 1 way swim, this is open to a number of non military personnel as well as the armed forces. The 2 way swim is always a challenge as it presents physiological obstacle of a turning buoy at half way which is located in the estuary of a in flowing cold river. This swim is important for any one planning to swim Windermere later in the year.


The longest annual swim and the Premier Long Distance Swim is held on this English Lake. This is the gauge by which swimmers are judged, only the elite of swimmers complete this gruelling swim. The 10.5mile swim is only open to seniors and each swimmer must be accompanied by a rowing boat. This swim is held on the first Saturday in September. The race starts from Fell Foot Park and finishes at Waterhead in the North. Approximately in the middle of the swim, navigation of the Islands is required. A second swim is held on the evening of the first Thursday in September this being the Cross Windermere swim (2km). This swim organised by Troutbeck ASC. It starts at Wray Castle finishes at Waterhead. The third swim held on this lake is held every two years and is only contemplated by a few swimmers. This swim is held at night and is a Two Way Swim (21miles). This swim is generally used to give swimmers confidence that they can complete a Channel swim.

Loch Lomond

Situated a few miles North of Glasgow this is one of the easiest lochs to gain access too. It is the largest in Great Britain and is also one of the longest. At its widest it is 7.5mile wide. Further north the Scottish highland overlook it. On its Easterly bank Ben Lomond 974m high dominates. Further North Ben Vorlic is a short distance off its shores. There are many Islands of differing size the largest Island is Inchmurrin and is over a 1mile long. There are currently two races held in this loch. The Premier swim held every two years and on alternating years to the Two Way Windermere swim is the full length swim. This swim is held over night and is probably one of the toughest swims there is. The temperature in the North can be quite low due to the river Falloch entering the lake. Away from the start at Ardlui Hotel the temperature rises and can be the same as Windermere. Due to the length and the mountains around it the weather can vary along its length. Swimmers are accompanied by rowing boats which require a skilled navigator in it to avoid the shallow portions of the loch. The other swim is a 2mile swim starting and finishing at Ballock in the South. This is a new race run by the organisers of the Great North Run.


Held on the 1st Saturday in July this is Britain’s Premier sea swim. It is only open to Senior and Veteran swimmers. The Senior swim is across the bay and back a total of 8 miles. The Veterans get away with a single crossing. The start is from Meadfoot Beach and swim toward Brixham. The sea temperature at this time of the year can be around 16oC (57oF). Strict entry conditions are imposed to ensure the safety of both the swimmers and the escorting sea canoeist.


Usually held on the 3rd Saturday in August a series of races are held. The lake just outside Keswick and is over looked by Catbells to the East and Skidaw to the Northwest. There are three races held they are a 2mile, 5mile and 7mile race. The 7mile race takes a triangular course around the lake.

Rivington Reservoir

Starting at the Anderson Centre directly below Rivington Pike, the race is swum in Rivington Lower Reservoir with permission granted by United Utilities. The race was introduced into the calendar as the Millennium Swim. Three races are held on the same day, starting with a 2mile swim in the morning. At lunch time a 1000m Novice race is swum and following that a Senior 4mile race takes place in the afternoon. After the swim presentations are made following a buffet.

Champion of Champions

The race is now held in the Cotswolds, in a very picturesque setting. The water is top quality. This gruelling swim is a real test for swimmers, as the swim is in fact three swims, one after each other. They total a distance of 8.75miles. The first swim is 5miles, the second 2.5miles and the third 1.25miles. To qualify for the Champion of Champions Event you need to complete all three swims. However, certificates are awarded to swimmers completing individual swims. There are both Junior and Senior Championships.


No races are currently held on this beautiful lake. As it is 500feet higher than the other lakes in the Lake District it is generally colder. The 7mile long lake has several twists in it making it a very pleasant swim. The down side to swimming this lake is the number of sailing boats on it. Therefore, a week day swim is the most peaceful time.


The swim is held a few miles to the west of Scarborough. The Sykham lake Championships are 2miles long for both Juniors and Seniors. There is also a Novice 1000m race.

Salford Quays

This was formally the Manchester Docks. However, modern development on the banks and extensive clearing of the water has resulted in a water centre, which is used for the NCASA Championships and Triathlons. The Quays were used for the Commonwealth Games.

Holme Pierrepont

The location of the National Water Centre, Holme Pierrepont is on the River Trent to the East of Nottingham. The centre caters for Canoeing and rowing. The Open Water swimming is held where the rowing is staged. The ASA hold a number of their swims here.

Lynn Regis

The course of this race is the relief Channel running beside the River Ouse at Stowbridge just off the A10 north of Downham Market and south of Kins Lynn. The course is three miles long. The race is usually held is mid September and is one of the last races of the season. The brief description given above is a limited insight into some of the swims and there locations. The list will be expanded shortly.

Last updated - 31 Oct 2018
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