Open water swimming is popular both recreationally and competitively, with the latest research from the Active Lives Survey by Sport England finding that nearly 2.68m people in England took part in open water swimming in 2021, with 408,000 regularly swimming in open water.

Outdoor swimming is a great way to challenge yourself mentally and physically, but as with any activities in, on or near water, it is really important to consider safety before heading out and having fun!

This blog post looks at top safety tips for open water swimming and accredited open water swimming venues in the UK.

Open Water Swimming Safety Tips

  • Plan your day – go to a lifeguarded, recognised venue.
  • Have the right equipment – a wetsuit, brightly coloured swimming cap, tow float and a flask of hot drink and clothing to warm you up after the swim - ALL are essential for your open water swimming kit bag.
  • Take a buddy with you – and make sure someone always knows where you are and when you expect to be back in case of an emergency.
  • Know your limits – only visit venues within your capability, stay close/swim parallel to a point of exit and ensure you familiarise yourself accessible exit routes.
  • Know how to stay safe and get help – familiarise yourself with the location of rescue equipment and survival techniques such as Float to Live.

You can find more open water safety tips and suggestions at

Open Water Swimming Venues

There are many open water swimming venues in the UK, with more opening all the time, so it can be tricky to determine whether an open water swimming venue is safe. Triathlon England, supported by Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), has created Beyond Swim - an accreditation scheme for open water venues to assist the open water swimming community.

The Beyond Swim accreditation process focuses on safety to ensure open water swimming operators are following best practice guidelines, implementing robust safety and standards of competence – reviewing working practises including permissions, insurances, risk assessments, Normal Operating Procedures (NOPs), Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) and staff qualifications, to ensure they meet the standards to achieve a Beyond Swim accreditation.

There are two stages that operators work through with the support of the Beyond Swim team:

Self-Declared open water venue – the open water venue completes the Beyond Swim Self-Declared Checklist to verify that their documentation reaches Beyond Swim minimum standards.

Beyond Swim Endorsed open water venue – Beyond Swim receives and reviews the venue’s documentation and then verifies and confirms that the venue’s documentation reaches or exceeds Beyond Swim’s minimum standards at the time of review.

Once an open water venue has achieved either level of accreditation, they get added to the Beyond Swim accredited venue list. To view the accredited open water venues in the scheme, visit:

Beyond Swim, Swim passes are available for £30 a year and provide various benefits, including 20% off each pay-as-you-go (PAYG) swim at Beyond Swim venues, a free swim hat, discounts at partner organisations and much more!

Click here to discover more about Beyond Swim

Remember, plan your visit and #EnjoyWaterSafely when you head out open water swimming!