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Open Water

The Speedo 2022 Outsiders Club River Launch video above was filmed at Warleigh Weir, Somerset

Swim England South West is moving towards a structured development pathway for Open Water Swimming that is in line with Swim England’s National Strategy and Talent Pathway programme. Swim England’s Regional Development Programme and Integrated Talent Pathway plans were due to start implementation in August 2022 with athlete and workforce selection and programme delivery due September / October 2022.

As the South West Regional OW Committee work towards this development programme, download its programme of development proposed for 2022.

View FINA Open Water Swimming Guide 2022 

In order to enable existing Open Water Officials to continue to operate at Open Water events, Swim England have put together the World Aquatics Rules Update for Open Water Officials module. View details.

Regional Events

The Regional Open Water Swimming Championships* which include the Somerset Open Water Championships were will be held on 25 June 2023 at Lake 86 in the Cotswold Water Park nr Cirencester. 

Regional open water championships 2023

* for Swim England East Midlands, Swim England South West, Swim England West Midlands

Please see news item for how to enter.

The Swim England South West Open Water Swimming Championships which included the Somerset Open Water Championships were held on Saturday 2 July 2022 at Lake 86 in the Cotswold Water Park nr Cirencester. The Age Group Championship distances available were

  • 2km (12 & 13 Yrs),
  • 3km (14 & 15 Yrs)
  • 5km (16 Yrs & over)

There was also a 1km taster event for those new to open water.

The Masters and Senior Championship distances available for ages 18 Yrs & Over:

  • 2km, 3km & 5km
  • Masters age groups: 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-49, 50- 59, 60+.

View details

Having spoken to other key partners, Swim England's Swimming Leadership Group had agreed there was insufficient time to create a successful Open Water festival event but that this would be the intention for 2022.

The SW Regional and County Open Water Championships 2020 were cancelled (view announcement). Counties and regions were to be consulted to ensure that participation in the Regional Open Water Championships is not affected by the decision on alternative window dates for Counties in 2021.

The SW Regional and County Open Water Championships 2019 originally scheduled to take place at Preston Beach, Weymouth on 6 July were cancelled. Following this announcement of postponement, the Region was subsequently unable to reschedule the event for 2019. View notice of cancellation. Swimmers from Somerset Clubs were given the opportunity to enter the Midlands Open Water Festival at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham on 7 July 2019 in their quest for qualification for open water nationals. View results.

View results of the 2018 South West Open Water Championships.

Open water race practice

National Age Group Events

The Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2023 will take place at Thrybergh Country Park, Rotherham on Saturday 29 July 2023. Swimmers aged 12 and 13 compete in 2km races, 14 and 15 year olds race 3km, while those aged 16 and over complete in the 5km race. This year’s competition will see Swim England adopt the new rules from World Aquatics regarding the use of wetsuits in the event - compulsory for competition if the water temperature is below 18°C and otherwise not permitted if the water temperature is above. 18°C. For more information on the event, please visit the Swim England Open Water Hub.

The Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2022 were held at Thrybergh Country Park, Rotherham on 10 August 2022. View report.

​10 athletes from A.N.T. Swimming Club of Somerset competed in their Target Meet - Swim Wales National Open Water Championships 2021 - at Llandegfedd Lake.on 4 Sep 2021. View report of successes which included 2 golds and one bronze.

The Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2020 originally scheduled to take place at Thrybergh Country Park on 27 July 2020 were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic (view details).

The Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2019 was held at Thrybergh Country Park on 5 August 2019 after the lakes at Rother Valley Country Park had been closed due to the discovery of blue-green algae. The Championships contained races over three distances; 2km, 3km and 5km. Age groups 12 and 13 yrs competed over 2km, 14 and 15 yrs competed over 3km, while 16, 17/18 and 19+ yrs completed the 5km course. View results. We also published opportunities to volunteer as Front of House Team Members at the Age Group event.

Masters Events

The Swim England Open Water Masters National Championships 2020 scheduled to place at Nene Park, Peterborough on Saturday 5 Sept were cancelled due to Covid-19.

Swim England Open Water National Masters Championships 2019 took place on 1 Sep 2019 at Nene Park, Peterborough. View report. Races were contested over 1.5km and 3km. Most Masters swimmers often enter both distances. Entry was also open to Scottish, Welsh and international swimmers, while you could also sign up for temporary membership to compete. We publishef opportunities to volunteer as Front of House Team Members at the Masters event.

There were other opportunities across the UK to officiate at Open Water events in 2019. View details.

Local Events

View results of  Clevedon Long Swim 2022, 

Video: Clevedon Long Swim 2018 from Lady Bay to the Pier. The traditional 1 mile Clevedon Long Swim (from Ladye Bay, under England’s only Grade 1 listed pier to the finish on Clevedon Beach) took place on 3 August 2019. View results. Entries sold out within 48 hours of opening on 1 Feb 2018. Entries for the 2019 Long Swim were full by 11 December 2018.

Cold Water Events

View report on the 13th Winter Swimming World Championships 2023.

The International Ice Swimming Association GB Championships 2020 were held at Sandford Lido over 22/23 Feb 2020 - a critical event for selection to represent Great Britain in the 2021 IISA World Championship.

Guidance for Running Safe Events

The Government removed remaining domestic restrictions in England and has published its plan for living with COVID-19. From 24 Feb in England you will not be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay at home if you can and avoid contact with other people. You will not have to take daily tests or be legally required to self-isolate following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff and students in most education and childcare settings no longer need to test twice a week. View Government updates.

Swim England’s guidance documents are available to view at: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/pool-return-guidance-documents/

View Swim England return to club open water training document updated Jul 2020.

Swim England has issued safety advice for open water swimming in hot weather.

View key safety advice which was drawn up by Swim England, British Triathlon and the Royal Life Saving Society UK following the partial lifting of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions on 29 Mar 2021. Covid-19 Guidance to Open Water Swimmers is hosted on the SH2OUT website. Also read Swim England statement on open water swimming published on 11 May 2020.

Open water venues were encouraged to give feedback on an interim document for their safe use.


Open Water Clubs

Somerset ASA encourages safe participation in Open Water swimming and provides and promotes development opportunities to enable Coaches, competitors and Officials to progress from pool swimming into Open Water events.

Somerset ASA Open Water Secretary helps develop and promote Open Water swimming and the sport within local open water venues and beyond.

All clubs that run Open Water as a discipline or as a stand-alone Open Water club need to ensure that this is reflected in their current constitution and that they are registered with Swim England as an Open Water club / having an Open Water section. Read more

How to introduce open water sessions at your club

If you are looking to introduce open water sessions at your club, you will need to consider the following four things:

  1. starting off with taster sessions
  2. training your coaches for regular sessions
  3. introducing open water training in the pool
  4. registering as an open water club with your region.

Taster sessions 

Initially many clubs start by having a fun session early on in the season as a social trip. You may have seen the inflatable obstacle courses at open water venues which grab swimmers attention. This is a good way to get people into the water in a fun way but it is only a start.

Many of these venues will also offer open water coached sessions which are helpful if your club does not have a qualified open water coach. These sessions can give the club and swimmers an initial understanding and feel for the discipline.

Train your coach 

If you want to take this further you can choose to either train and use your own Level 2 open water coach or use a suitably trained coach which the venue can provide for regular training sessions.

We always recommend using an organised and safe open water swimming venue, but this may not always be possible. Where a club is providing all of the safety procedures themselves, it is essential the coach holds a level 2 qualification in open water swimming and understands the health and safety principles the club must follow.

Open water sessions in the pool

If your swimmers are starting to progress within the open water talent pathway then Swim England Talent recommends their coach looks at providing open water coaching sessions in the pool throughout the year.

Please see Swim England Open Water Talent Pathway for further information.

Register the new discipline 

If your club is planning on taking it’s swimmers training regularly in open water you must register the new discipline with your region and change your constitution accordingly. If you would like any further help please get in touch with your local Club Development Officer via your Regional Office.


Video: Warming Up and Stretching for Open Water Swimming - it can be tough to fully acclimatise to conditions ahead of an open water swim, but there is plenty you can do on land to get yourself ready. Whether you're training or competing, a thorough warm up is essential before getting into the water. In this video, World Championship medallist James Wilby demonstrates some key exercises which should have you well prepared for your next swim.

Swim England TRY Open Water Funding

We publicised the availability of Swim England funding in 2020 to give members the chance to try open water swimming for the first time. View details.


Dec 2020 video: Hannah Poore shares her love of open water swimming at Clevedon Marine Lake

Become a Swim England Level 2 Open Water Swimming Coach

In June 2019, Swim England launched a new Level 2 Coaching Open Water Swimming qualification .

Replacing the Level 2 Award in British Open Water Swimming, the qualification has been designed to provide learners with the specialist knowledge needed to deliver open water swimming sessions. It has been developed to meet the needs of today’s open water coaches and swimmers, as the sport’s popularity continues to grow.

Become an Open Water Coach

To help support clubs, we publicised a Swim England opportunity for coaches and support personnel to attend a Water Safety Session with Ash Jones, Swim England’s Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Manager on Tuesday 18 May 2021 at 7pm. View details.

View Open Water Coaching Guidance from Swim England for Clubs and Coaches (Jun 2019). Remember coaches: if you do not have a suitable qualification, IOS membership insurance will not cover you for regular open water coaching activities.

Swim England Open Water Awards are available for ages 8 plus and provide opportunities for teachers and coaches to add variety to their pool sessions, help assess skills and provide structure for induction.

Download resources.

There were two blended British Level 2 Open Water Swimming Coach courses in the South West in 2019. View details.

Your help in sharing details of events and courses within your club and networks is always appreciated.

Swim England South West are collating a list of Open Water Coaches in the Region. If you are one or have any within your club, please can you email Virginia Hill (swowsec@gmail.com) with names, club and qualification.


View details of Swim England SW Open Water Camp 2023 for 12-15yr olds on 3 Jun 2023 (1pm to 8pm) at Lake 86, Cotswold Water Park which consist of 2 lake sessions and 1 classroom workshop. 

Regional development events utilise pool sessions at the University of Bath / Trowbridge Leisure Centre and also  Vobster Quay, Lake 86 for open water sessions. Swim England South West hoped that County sessions would also be undertaken in 2022 with help from the Regional Coach, Richard Smith. An introductory Zoom meeting early in 2022 for coaches planned to describe the development programme fully.

Video: Profile on two-time 10km open water world champion, and an Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne (now Keri-Anne Carry) recorded when she was a 2012 Olympic hopeful. Taking part in the 10k open water swim, Keri-Anne found herself in possibly one of the most gruelling events in the Games. This film by Myles Desenberg is a story about her journey, aspirations, triumphs and dedication.

For those of you looking to get in to open water swimming or to improve on your swimming we advertised coaching workshops being held at Vobster on 8 September 2018. View details.

Within Somerset ASA's Development budget, funding is available to encourage more participation in the disciplines of Open Water, Water Polo, Synchronised Swimming and Masters.


View details of Open Water Officials training including World Aquatics Open Water Rules updates and how to register for an Open Water Officials Course.

Video filmed and edited by Colin Hill: Sid Cassidy (USA) explains a few of the rules of the FINA Marathon Swimming World Series races.

We are keen to recruit officials into this growing element of aquatic sport so you could soon enjoy the benefits of sun, sea and sand whilst judging a swimming event! Please register your interest in training to be an open water official which involves a classroom workshop and practical sessions on beach and boat so that we can organise dates and venues for 2020. Three volunteers from Somerset attended the 2017 course as part of their Level 1 training.

We published opportunities to officiate at Open Water Swimming Events in the UK in 2019. Please contact the event coordinators direct to register your interest in assisting at their events.

Open Water Swimming Safety - Protecting Athletes

Click in-video icon and select a particular to view from the playlist of the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) conference, part of its Open Water Swimming Coaches Education Program for pool swimming coaches, triathlete coaches, masters swimming coaches, fitness coaches, endurance sports coaches and multi-sport coaches.

View details of the WOWSA Open Water Swimming Coaches Certification Program.


Swim Safe logoSwim Safe 2021

Thousands of free water safety sessions for youngsters are available to book as the popular Swim Safe programme returns to venues across the country.

The free sessions are aimed at anyone aged between seven and 14 years old who can swim at least 25 metres. They last for approximately 45 minutes and include:

  • Interactive water safety advice for parents and children
  • Up to 20 minutes in-water tuition with qualified instructors
  • Kit for swimming outdoors, including swimming hats, wetsuits and floatation equipment.

View details.

Swim England Outdoor Swimming Ambassadors

Meet the new Swim England's ambassadors who are helping with its campaigning work for cleaner waters, better access to waters and safer waters.

Beyond Swim

Beyond SwimBeyond Swim is the brainchild of Triathlon England and supported by Swim England and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK). View details of the Beyond Swim Pass which allows you to get the best possible experience from open water swimming.

Download Triathlon England's 'Organised Open Water Swimming' resource developed with guidance from the Amateur Swimming Association to establish and develop safer venues to support mass participation.

Free Webinars

We publicised Swim England Mar 2021 launch of a series of free webinars focusing on outdoor swimming! The sessions aim to inspire and engage those interested in swimming outdoors or returning to the activity. Find out more information about the series including dates, topics and how to book a place here. The launch of the series was so popular that the webinars sold out in just one day!

Join English Channel soloist, FINA’s Open Water Swim Consultant and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee Colin Hill on Monday 19 July 2021 (7.30 – 8.30pm) for a talk about preparing for open water races and long distance swim challenges. Book here.

Video: How open water swimming can improve mental health.

Excerpt from BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries, February 2017 extolling the benefits of cold water swimming.

Tide Times