Open water swimming

We know that for some people, indoor swimming just isn't their thing. The open waters across our network often seem like inviting, cool places to grab some exercise.

However, open water swimming can be dangerous.  Some risks are obvious, but there are also potential hidden dangers. These include submerged debris, reeds and unexpected cold-water shock. Some of our water spaces, in particular canals, are just not safe or appropriate for open water swimming, and it remains a breach of the Trust’s byelaws to swim in these spaces.

Nonetheless, we recognise the many reported health and wellbeing benefits of open water swimming and have identified certain inland water spaces that may be suitable for this activity.

Open water swimmer Open water swimmer

No unauthorised swimming

If you are interested in open water swimming, you must make sure you have licensed supervision and support from a club. Any swims that do not take place with a licensed club are unauthorised.

Swimming clubs

Clubs will provide support while swimming and can advise and possibly provide you with the right gear.  Find your nearest club by searching here. Remember, swimming at club sites without their supervision is not authorised.

If you are a triathlon or a recreational club and would like to use one of our reservoirs, please contact your regional team who'll be able to talk you through everything from the nearest venue to the licence application process and the insurance you'll need.

Beyond Swim

Beyond Swim is a joint venture between British Triathlon, Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS). Beyond Swim promotes water safety and enjoyment with accredited open water swimming and triathlon clubs. We're working as part of this initiative to create safe swimming venues across our reservoirs.


We refer to Beyond Swim guidelines that describe how everyone should approach open water swimming in England and Wales. Beyond Swim is responsible for accrediting open water swimming clubs to operate on our network. You can find their up to date guidance on open water swimming and coronavirus.

This includes information about what to do on arrival, social distancing, what to do when leaving and advice for anyone who has previously contracted the virus.

How to set up a new open water swimming club

The Trust welcomes enquiries about forming new swimming clubs year-round. We help enquirers to start the process. Sh2out manages accreditation. Finally, we issue the required legal agreement. This process can take several months, so we advise that initial enquiries are made as soon as possible.

  1. Contact us to make an enquiry
  2. Meet with Trust
  3. Planning permission
  4. Approval to proceed
  5. Beyond Swim accreditation process
  6. Legal agreement between the Trust and new club

More information about open water swimming

You can also visit the following websites for advice and more information about open water swimming:

Last date edited: 18 July 2022