To enlarge the font, hold down the 'Ctrl' and '+' buttons on a PC or 'Cmd' and '+' buttons on a Mac.


Swim Wales Open Water Guidance

Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming , Water Polo, Education
National, Performance

Over the last couple of weeks we have been answering questions from the public and our members about Open Water Swimming mainly:

a) Is open water swimming allowed now some restrictions have been lifted in Wales?

b) Is it safe to do so?

We thought the following guidance would help with this.

This guidance has been developed in partnership with SH₂OUT and we are very grateful to Swim England, British Triathlon & the RLSS for their ongoing collaboration with Swim Wales in this exciting and growing aquatic activity.

Swim Wales acknowledges the nuances between UK & Welsh government guidance and legislation, however as the recognised National Governing Body in Wales any guidance we provide will be aligned to Welsh Government and its latest guidance which can be found here;

Our swimmers

The aim is to give our open water swimmers guidance on how to approach open water swimming in the current climate. If you do decide to go open water swimming, we recommend the following:

  • Never swim alone
  • Adhere to social distancing requirements throughout your swim, including arrival, changing and post swim
  • Let someone in your household know where you are, what you are doing and expected time to return
  • It is your responsibility that you are sufficiently fit and healthy to participate in open water swimming. You should think about any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have and if you are in any doubt, we recommend that you do not swim

In terms of sea swimming, there are no RNLI lifeguards operating presently. Volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational but those partaking in sea swimming must understand the risks and take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe. This will help reduce the demand on lifeboat crews and other emergency services.

Please note - If you are not used to swimming in open water, we strongly urge you NOT to start now unless you can do so under supervision and guidance.

For venues & facilities –

Open water venues can include rivers, lakes, natural pools and the sea. There is a big difference between swimming in a pool and swimming outdoors and there is an even higher risk of drowning when swimming in the sea.

Open water sites across Wales, including beaches, are NOT currently supervised. There is no one to help you if you get in trouble and emergency services may not be able to get to you in time.

The RNLI has warned that there are currently no lifeguards on beaches and anyone who goes sea swimming must understand the risks and take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.

If you are an experienced open water swimmer we recommend that you only swim in an operated and supervised open water venue. You can find a list of accredited SH₂OUT venues below. A SH₂OUT accredited venue is one that has had its documentation, procedures, water safety provision and operations approved by SH₂OUT in 2019.

You can find another list of open water venues in Wales here;

If you decide to swim in an open water venue that is not operated or supervised, then you should carefully plan the location based on the following;

  • Check out local knowledge and advice (speak to clubs or other swimmers)
  • Make sure you have permission to swim at your chosen spot
  • Look out for safety signs and online information/feedback
  • Avoid weirs, locks and other structures.
  • If a sign says “no swimming” and/or “danger” do not swim there
  • Think about the water quality – is the water potentially polluted (e.g. looks dirty, is a strange colour or smells) or has any pipes running into it
  • Do not swim in stagnant water
  • Think about water temperature and the weather, as outlined below
  • Be aware of tides and currents. A strong current can easily prevent you reaching where you want to swim, or it could pull you away from your planned exit point

Finally, please note that Swim Wales do not endorse or promote swimming at these venues, and cannot guarantee the level of safety at these venues. It is advised to contact the venue that you plan to swim at prior to arrival to ensure that the venue is open and operating swimming.

Some venues will require a pre-booking prior to swimming to enable them to maintain social distancing at their venue and whilst swimming. We are providing guidance and support to venues to operate whilst implementing COVID-19 advice.

Please stay safe!

Aquatic Development Team

Swim Wales

3rd June 2020