Open Water Swimming

Open water swimming is simply swimming in open bodies of water including the sea, lakes, reservoirs and rivers (but not  outdoor
swimming pools).

Originally the only form of swimming, it virtually died out in the UK as indoor pools were developed for the general public from the 1950s onwards. In recent years groups like the Outdoor Swimming Society encouraged people to rediscover swimming under an open sky, and triathlons have provided a competitive arena for open water swimming.

Open Water

Competitive open water swimming reached a wider audience in 2008 when a 10km race was held as part of the Beijing Olympics. Three of the six medals in this competition went to members of the Great Britain swimming team:  David Davies (silver),  Keri-Anne Payne (silver) and  Cassie Patten (bronze). Since then, public interest and participation in the sport has risen hugely. There are five annual races in the British Gas Great Swim Series.


They attract large numbers of swimmers keen to experience the thrill of open water swimming, with the reassurance that expert kayakers and safety boats are with them. Men and women compete alongside one another, with the natural elements often playing a part in determining the winner.