Windrush Open Water Swimming Guidelines


Some open water swimming venues are starting to reopen which is great for those of us who have been missing being in the water! Open water can include rivers, lakes, natural pools and the sea. There is a big difference between swimming in a pool and swimming outdoors, which comes with its own set of dangers. As a British Triathlon affiliated club, we encourage following their advice.



  • Whilst open water swimming is permitted in England by the government, you should ask yourself whether you think it is a socially responsible thing for you to do; due to the inherent dangers, increased risk and pressure that this may cause the NHS and emergency services. Certainly, if you are new to open water swimming, it is not advisable that you go open water swimming outside of an operated and supervised venue which has a safety crew (many of these are not open currently). 
  • Are you sufficiently fit and healthy to participate in open water swimming? Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions that may compromise your safety in the water - if you are in any doubt it is recommended that you do not swim. DO NOT SWIM IF YOU ARE DISPLAYING ANY SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS.
  • Can you get to the venue safely/responsibly and without using public transport?
  • Venues are all new to social distancing and in order for them to stay open they need to be able to do this with confidence and not worry about swimmers.
  • 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. 
  • If you are cycling to the venue, make sure you have practiced the route before (with luggage as a wet wetsuit is a couple of kilos) and confident that you will be able to return with no assistance (as you will be tired after a cold swim).


  • If you do decide to swim, it is recommended that you wear a wetsuit in temperatures below 20 degrees. They will help to keep you warm but also improve buoyancy. Are you able to fasten your wetsuit up yourself? If not, it is safer to wait until the water temperature is warmer for you to swim.
  • Use of a tow float is also recommended, it increases your visibility in the water and gives you support of resting.
  • High visibility swim cap can again help with being seen.
  • Make sure you take enough water (even a hot drink) with you and a snack, it is vital you eat after cold swimming to help the body to recover quicker.


  • Even the most seasoned cold water swimmers will have lost most, if not all of their cold water acclimatisation. Swimming in cold water can lead to cold water shock, cramp, panic and hyperventilation-led drowning. 
  • You should enter the water slowly and in a safe way, that allows you to acclimatise to the water temperature (don’t jump in). Put your face in the water. Take some deep breaths. Gently tread water slowly moving your legs and arms.
  • You should give yourself the opportunity to get used to the water temperature and regulate your breathing close to your water entry points in case you panic and need to exit.  If you become nervous or uncomfortable, roll on to your back and float and breathe deeply until you regain control - your wetsuit and tow float will help keep you buoyant.
  • Practice breathing drills like Bubble, Bubble, Breathe to help you climatise. 
  • Cold water swimming does not replace pool training, it is more for relaxation so please only consider swimming as a form of exercise if you really need to.
  • Don’t wait until you’re too cold to get out, get out wanting more. 
  • Once you have finished swimming dry off and get changed as quickly as possible. Take more layers than you think you need (hats, gloves, thick socks recommended), especially the first few times, even a hot water bottle is recommended.


  • Make sure you keep 2m distance from other people at all times, including in the water.
  • Open water swimming is not like swimming in a pool. Not being able to see what’s underneath you or in front of you is a totally different experience. If you are new to it, or want a confidence boost, the Royal Docks will be offering coached open water skills sessions. Keep an eye on their website or download the ACTIO app-
  • If you are not swimming in an operated or supervised venue, do not swim alone.
  • We as a club love to swim in both open water and cold water so if you choose to go enjoy it and share your photos/top tips with us!


  • If you are cycling to the Royal Docks, please do not lock your bike up on the railings next to the docks as this is where the waiting line is now. There is a bike park just round the corner behind the Crystal, as illustrated on map below.
  • Blue - Dock Road Car Parking (type Nakhon Thai into Sat Nav).
  • Orange - Purpose built bike park.
  • Green - Changing space (be mindful of 2m).
  • Yellow - Waiting line.

Any questions please ask swim captains Alex B and Emily B

More information can be found here:

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