Experience the joys of open water swimming safely. 

3.6m people took part in open water swimming in the last year, with 606,800 open water swimming in the last month, an increase of 48% on 2020/21. Source: Active Lives Data (2021/22).
Here are our top tips to enjoy water safely whilst swimming outdoors
Plan your day
  • Think about the water temperature and weather
  • Plan your exit before you get into the water. Consider any currents, the tidal flow and wind direction
  • Use a recognised venue, preferably lifeguarded
  • Research the area – make sure it is safe and you know where to get in and out of the water
  • Take time to read the warning and guidance signs and research location advice
Have the right equipment
  • Wetsuits aid exposure to cold water
  • Wear a brightly coloured swimming hat
  • Take a Tow float
  • Warm dry clothes ready – dryrobes are widely used by open water swimmers
  • Warm drink
  • Always wear a buoyancy aid or lifejacket for activities on the water or at the water’s edge
  • Take something to refuel

Essential open water swimming equipment

Take a buddy with you
  • Swim with a friend or open water swimming group, it's more fun and they can help in an emergency
  • Tell someone else where you are going and how long you expect to be
Know your limits
  • Reduce the impact of cold water shock, acclimatise in the home environment and enter the water slowly
  • Unless you are a competent open water swimmer, used to swimming in a particular environment, you should swim under the supervision of lifeguards
  • Swim parallel to the shoreline, wherever possible stay away from deeper water, which will be colder
  • Plan and be aware of your exit points
  • Avoid drifting in the currents
Know how to stay safe and get help
  • If you get into trouble or feel overwhelmed – Float to Live
  • Fight your instinct to thrash around
  • Lean back
  • Catch your breath
  • Now think about getting out
  • Familarise yourself with any rescue support or public rescue equipment
  • To understand basic self-survival and rescue, take our free online water safety toolkit
If someone is in difficulty in the water
  • Shout reassurance to them and shout for help, and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
  • Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, or item of clothing, lie down or stay secure Alternatively, throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part-filled plastic container, ball, or anything that will float
  • Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance, urging them to propel themselves to safety
  • Do not enter the water yourself

Fancy a dip? Why not try out our Sponge to Plunge programme?