Open Water Swimming

Welcome to your new Open Water swimming page.

We live in the most stunning place in Great Britain…The English Lake District. We have the greatest opportunities for experiencing open water swimming right on our door step. Our lakes include the longest lake in England, the deepest lake; nestled at the foot of the highest mountain in England, the setting for the famous Swallows and Amazons adventure story and of course the settings for Donald Cambell’s world water speed records during the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite living in such a magical place there are still relatively few club swimmers participating in the sport…..THIS IS ABOUT TO CHANGE

On this page you will find advice on open water swimming, links to Swim England and Swim Northwest openwater events and links to other events in and around our county.


COWL Risk Assessment

Please see the attached for the Risk Assessment (RA) for this years COWL.  It has been updated to reflect that the organisers have outright responsibility for their events; this RA supplements their safety advice.

Follow this link to the Risk Assessment


Swim England North West Open Water Festival

Entries are now open for the above event to be held at Salford Quays on Saturday June 29th.

Follow this the link to the SENW webpage for the entry conditions and entry form.


Outdoor swimming and mental health 

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that outdoor swimming is good for your mental health. We’d like to share three articles that explore the link between outdoor swimming and mental health in more detail.


Derwent Water - Blue-green algae alert

Recently Keswick Mountain Festival organisers cancelled all swimming events in Derwent Water due to the presence of blue-green algae. This can cause rashes after skin contact and illnesses including skin rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle and joint pain in people who’ve swallowed or swam through algal scum. These haven’t led to long-term effects or death but, in some cases, the illnesses can be severe.

Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but you can’t tell just by looking at them, so it’s best to assume they are. Although algal scum isn’t always harmful, avoid contact with it and the water close to it.

For anyone who was thinking of a training swim in preparation for the COWL or for any other Open water events please avoid swimming in Derwent Water until further notice.

We will be monitoring the situation closely to mimimise any impacts to the COWL Swim series.


Cumbria Open Water League (COWL)

We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of the the inaugural Cumbria Open Water League (COWL) in 2019 to encourage participation in Open Water Swimming by members of Cumbria clubs. 

We have arranged with event organisers Epic Events Management Ltd to hold the COWL in conjunction with their Epic swim series. Details of the Epic swims are listed below.

Full REVISED entry conditions to the COWL are on the attached link
In order to be eligible for the COWL, swimmers must compete in at least two of the Epic swims. There are three age categories split over two distances for this years event which are:
1. 11 to 13 (supported by parental consent) - 500m
2. 14 to 15 (supported by parental consent)  - 1 mile
3. 16 and over (supported by parental consent for under 18 years) - 1 mile
This is a fantastic opportunity for the swimmers of Cumbrian clubs to compete in well organised events in amazing settings in our own county.

Further information is available from Mark Newby, email:

Events Calendar

Swim Northwest

June 29th – Swim England North West/Swim England North East OW Festival (incorporating SENW, SENE, and county Championships Start 08.00 – 14.00 at Salford Quays

June 15th – OW Taster & Training Sessions [1 hour] – Salford Quays. Follow this link for more details.

July 7th Openwater development day (14 & 15 yrs) – Salford Quays

July 14th – Openwater development day (16 - 18 yrs) – Salford Quays

Swim England North West Open Water Development day for swimmers have in previous years been by invitation only based on a set criteria which will be published shortly. Last year the invitations were based on the 800m and 1500m rankings following the Regional Championships.

The development day will include two open water sessions, land training and nutrition for distance athletes. Once swimmers have booked and registered onto the session, the full timetable together with any required documentation to be completed with be sent by email to the parent of the swimmer.

Epic Events
(500m, 1 mile, 3.8K)

Ullswater 16th June 2019

Derwent 7th July 2019

Coniston 18th Aug 2018

Windemere 15th Sept 2019

Great Swim Series (
250m 1/2M, 1M, 2M, 5K, 10K)

Windermere 7th to
9th June 2019


Openwater safety

Before everyone goes and jumps in the nearest puddle please follow the links and read up on openwater safety, impacts to the environment and potential hazards to health. It is important;

Biosecurity – Invasive non-native species

It is important to recognise the impact on the environment and local ecology that open water swimming can have. There is growing concern over the number, abundance and spread of freshwater invasive non-native species (FINNS), both plants and animals throughout the UK. FINNS are spread by people and equipment moving from one open water venue to another without proper care and cleaning of their equipment. Once transferred to another habitat the damage caused by a FINN can be devastating for the local ecology.

Follow this simple three step plan after every swim

  • Check and clean your wetsuit, clothing and equipment ON SITE of any animals and plant fragments.
  • Don’t take anything away with you!
  • Dry your clothing and equipment thoroughly before visiting your next venue. Some species can survive a long time in damp conditions.

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-Green Algae are a fresh water algae present in our lakes. During warm summer weather conditions these algae can bloom which then make them toxic and dangerous to pets, wild life and people.

Over the summer of 2018 there were four lakes affected by the Algae with public health warnings issued by the EA.

Before planning an open water please check the following websites for information



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