Open Water Swimming Events

Open Water | Training | Health Benefits | Safety | Top Swimming Events

What are Open Water Swimming Events?

With open water swimming events gaining momentum across the world, a large number of people are signing up to take the plunge in open water lakes, canals, rivers and seas. Swimming in open waters are a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but is a different ballgame altogether as compared to swimming in a pool. 

Open water swimming events

The history of open water swimming dates back to 1896 when the modern Olympic Games’ swimming competition was held in open water Bay of Zea. Over the years it seemed to fall out of fashion somewhat, but recently there has been somewhat of a resurgence in this sport and more and more people seem to wanting to try out this exciting sport. 

Getting to know Open Waters

Due to harsh weatherwater conditions and lower visibility, wild swimming is considerably more challenging when compared to swimming in a clean, maintained pool. Even the most experienced indoor swimmers can find it tough to transition to swimming in an open sealake or river. One key difference is that a swimmer has to rely a lot more on their sight and other senses to swim safely in the open waters. In a normal pool the water is a fixed length, width and depth and you very quickly become familiar with your surroundings. 

With a lake or river this is not the case - these kinds of things are decided by nature. And because it is beyond our control - the depth, wildlife and other properties of the water can be ever changing. You will need to be aware of where you are to ensure you don't get lost, and be prepared to deal with the nature around you. The first time you go in to lake for example you will have to get used to the temperature of the water, possible underwater plants, fish, rocks and other objects in the water. 

The salinity (how salty the water is) of the water can also take some getting used too. Most swimmers will be accomplished at making sure they do not get any chlorinated water in their mouths or nose, but very salty water can be just as bad and you don't want to coughing or spluttering in the middle of the sea. 

After your first time however you will quickly learn to love the outdoor freedom that comes with wild swimming. There are many wonderful places where you can enjoy your hobby and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. 

Breathing Technique

There is not a great deal of difference between breathing technique in open water compared to pools - the main difference comes with combating any waves in the water. Waves, be they coming at you or pushing you forward can cause instability in your swimming and can interupt your breathing pattern. Again this is just something you will learn to adapt to as you do more and more outdoor swimming. You may find however that it is a little easier to breath with open water swimming as most people tend to rotate their strokes a bit more and pop they heads up more often to help keep a track of where they are. 

Health Benefits

Swimming is a great workout for those who want to keep up a fitness regime, are looking for a new exercise or if you want to shed some extra pounds. Open water swimming is an effective way to build stamina and muscle as swimmers have to overcome tides and unfavorable water conditions - and once you're out you have to keep going as there is no chance to rest by the side of the pool. Consequently, it improves swimmers' flexibility, focus, endurance and co-ordination. 

Whilst swimming in pools is generally easier to do, as most towns and cities have at least two or three swimming pools you can visit - there are a lot of upsides to outdoor swimming compared to pools. First is the water quality - indoors you are subjected to chlorinated water. Whilst the chlorine levels are accepted to be safe, it is still a toxic poison put in to the water to kill germs -and it also has a nasty effect on your eyes, throat and mouth too. Open water on the other hand is fresh, naturally clean and full of vitamins from the nature around it.

Being outdoors also removes air pollution too - lakes, rivers and seas can be peaceful serene places to relax and enjoy your swim rather than tolerating crowded pools and stuffy air. You will also get to experience a lot more of the place around the water too. Whilst some clubs may make the pool area nice, nothing can beat getting out of the water and seeing green fields or lovely woodland. 

Safety Precautions

If you are a new to the sport or a seasoned swimmer, you should take note of the following to keep safe whilst wild swimming:

  • If you are swimming in the sea, try to ensure you never swim without the presence of a lifeguard. Lifeguards patrol beaches for days or months and are familiar with the water conditions and terrain and will be able to assist if you get in to trouble.
  • Be aware of the surroundings, including weather conditions, water depth and temperature, presence of other swimmers, lifeguards, boats, warning signs at the beach, etc.
  • Swim with other people you know - if you get caught in a tide you'll want someone to notice you're missing!
  • If you are caught in a fast-moving river current, do not panic. Remember to breathe. Roll onto your back and then swim ahead once the current loses it's intensity.
  • Wear appropriate gear including goggles and a cap. 
  • Try to plan your route - you don't want to get to the other side of a lake or river and not know how to get back!  

Top Open Water Swimming Events in 2018

We have chosen the best swimming events taking place in 2018. We have lots more listings availbale, just click on the 'Open Water Swimming Events' tab at the top of this page to find them.

Great Scottish Swim

With multiple distances available from 0.5 Miles to 10KM this open water swimming event caters for swimmers of all abilities. Taking place at Lock Lomond you are sure to find some great scenery along with fantistic event setup from the renound event providers Great Swim.

Find out more about the Great Scottish Swim event.

KidsOpen Water Swimming

Great North Swim


£15 - £85

07/06/2019, 09/06/2019

RunningCyclingKidsTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

Woburn Abbey Triathlon


£19 - £140

07/09/2019, 08/09/2019

Open Water Swimming

Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim


£10 - £30



RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

Cotswolds End Of Season Standard Triathlon

£49 - £64


RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

Cotswolds Lake 62 Standard Triathlon

£48 - £62


RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

Cotswolds Lake 62 Novice Triathlon

Ashton Keynes



Open Water Swimming

The Wales Swim



1.2 - 2.4M


Open Water Swimming



29/03/2019, 30/03/2019, 31/03/2019

RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

Fugitive Half Iron Distance Triathlon


£125 - £140


Open Water Swimming

Marlow Classic River Swim



1.5 - 3KM


RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

The Brutal Extreme Triathlons


£156 - £660


RunningCyclingTriathlonsOpen Water Swimming

The Wirral Triathlon