With the rising temperatures, many swimming enthusiasts are flocking to outdoor pools for a refreshing dip. But why not go one step further and explore the beauty and tranquillity of open water swimming? From April to September, you can partake in this liberating activity and feel the extraordinary sensation of gliding through freshwater or saltwater.
However, safety must be taken seriously, always consider your skill level and keep up-to-date with English open water guidance.
Hadleigh Country Park
Location: Hadleigh, Benfleet
Swim course length: 380m
Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, goggles, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband
Embrace the warmth of summer with an adventurous swim at Hadleigh Country Park! It provides the perfect blend of safety and pleasure - lifeguards keep an eye on swimmers, and wristbands from NOWCA track your time and distance in the water. After swimming, you can use the changing facilities and hot showers to warm up. Before jumping in, though, remember to book your swim through the Actio app.
Location: Gosfield, Colchester
Swim course length: 300m, 1,200m, & 1,500m
Requirements: Tow float/bag & Gosfield Lake swim cap (£5)
Gosfield Lake makes for an idyllic swimming spot whether you're looking for a quick splash or an extended dip. Its shallowness - only 5 feet deep - means most swimmers can stand up in the water, but be aware that it can be muddy. Don't let that put you off though, as the lake is perfectly safe to swim in, and afterwards you can take advantage of all the facilities on offer such as changing rooms, hot showers and a café too.
Stubbers Adventure Centre
Skills session price: £25
Fitness session price: £12
Swim course length: 750m
Requirements: Wetsuit, bright coloured swim hat (not red), & Lakemate band (£10) or PoolMate Plus.
Spend the day in nature at Stubbers Adventure Centre! There’s something for everyone, from novice swimmers to experienced open water adventurers. The lake is man-made and features excellent amenities such as toilets, showers, a car park and even hot drinks and biscuits – perfect for restoring after your swim. What’s more, beginners will have the chance to get up to speed quickly with skills sessions taking place between May and July. Experienced swimmers can take advantage of the fitness sessions held under supervision from expert staff.
Mersea Boating Lake
Location: Mersea Island
Requirements: Tow float/bag
If you're looking for the perfect spot to enjoy open water swimming, look no further than the Mersea Boating Lake in Essex. Not only is it open all year round, Monday to Friday, you can also join introduction or private coaching sessions and indulge in a bit of fun with their event days. Bring along your canine companion and make a splash at the special swimming-with-your-dog events, or gather your family and head down for one of their family fun swimming sessions - no matter what you choose to do, you certainly won't regret it!
Swim course length: 40m, 100m, 150m, 200m, & 400m
Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband
If you're looking to tackle open water swimming, Swim Lakeside is the perfect place to start. Located near Intu Lakeside Shopping Centre near Alexandra Lake, the lake offers an array of facilities such as changing and showering areas as well as lockers - just remember to bring your trusty padlock! You'll also need a NOWCA wristband and Actio app handy to get access to the lake. Don't worry if you are new or not confident, either; the shortest swim course here is only 40m so it's great for those starting out in this activity.
Location: Flatford Mill or Fen Bridge, near Dedham
On the edges of Essex, there exist a couple of charming outdoor swimming spots situated along the River Stour. The first one is Flatford Mill, which is a well-known spot for rowing and wild swimming. The second location is Fen Bridge, featuring river pools that reach a depth of 2 meters. However, caution must be exercised when swimming at Fen Bridge, as the water may contain fertilizers that place it in Grade C. Nonetheless, it is still safe to swim there, and the scenery is stunning (although the use of a nose clip and ear plugs is recommended).
Location: Ulting, Hatfield Peverel
For those looking for a peaceful and scenic open water swimming experience, the River Chelmer is where it's at. Around Hoe Mill Lock lies a stretch of river spanning two miles that offer beautiful views as well as ample opportunity to take a dip. Further upstream, Ulting Church overlooks a beautiful area of the river which is perfect for swimming. With so many lovely locations there is plenty to explore along this picturesque river.
Location: Chalkwell, Southend-on-Sea
If you're a fan of sea swimming, Chalkwell Beach is the place to be. There's an abundance of open water swimming groups operating off the beach like the Southend Seals, Chalkwell Redcaps and Bluetits to work out with, or why not invite a friend along? Just make sure to observe safety precautions at all times whichever option you choose. With its crystal clear waters and miles of pristine coastline, Chalkwell Beach is an amazing spot for swimming.