June July 2020 issue

A Guide to Open Water Swimming

In this guide we offer some advice for your guests so they can stay safe.

Environment Agency:

Water quality testing:

Advice & locations:

With the pools still closed (at time of going to press) you might be asked if there are any wild / open swimming spots nearby.

Know where to swim open water.

Start with the keyboard but there is nothing better than local knowledge.

As a guide:

1. Try and avoid canals and busy areas for boating.

2. Blue green algae is the wild swimmers biggest environmental concern. This can occur in very hot weather when water heights are low. It is visible from the waters edge. Look out for warning signs.

3. Ensure you understand any implications of tides and currents. This is mainly a concern in the sea but currents can be significant in rivers and estuaries. Riding the currents can be great fun of course but swimmers need to know how they will get back.

4. Know the rough depth of the water and good access points.

5. Reads and other plants in the water can be dangerous.

6. Pollution & water quality: Checkout the Environment agency website for any known issues.

7. You can buy test kits from There are 2 types of tests:

Lab tests – these need to be sent off and so results will take 3 days. Perfect if you own the swim spot.

Quick tests – takes 15 minutes and cover the basic tests. Perfect for people who are concerned and need reassurance.

8. Permission – who owns the land and are you allowed to swim there?

GENERAL ADVICE when wild Swimming

1. Cover all cuts and bruises. Also consider giving guests large bottles of fresh water to clean off with.

2. Suggest your guests buy water shoes and maybe a wet suit or rash vest.

3. Open water is always cold so consider supplying blankets and flasks to your guests.

4. There is no evidence to back this up but many people drink Coke after swimming in open water to kill any bugs. (Note from ed – I always do this and it works for me).

5. Swimming for long periods in open water can be disorientating. Recommend a quiet period after a swim – maybe with a hot mug of something.

6. Get out and try it – there is nothing better than personal knowledge!


By Dominic Johnson

Publisher, contact about all commercial enquiries.

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