As we come towards the end of May many lakes and reservoirs have now opened their waters to swimmers of all abilities and backgrounds to come and dip their toes.
It isn’t only triathletes that jump in and swim open water, preparing for their upcoming triathlon seasons, you also get cold water swimmers who don’t use wetsuits, jumping in only their trunks and of course the dedicated open water swimmers who only race in open water events.
Training in open water is an excellent addition to any training plan and if possible should be one of the staple sessions each week! It serves many purposes, from allowing less confident swimmers to overcome their fears prior to race day or to hone their open water skills such as drafting, turning buoys, sighting and mass starts.
However, swimming in open water is very different from swimming in a warm swimming pool with lines and lane ropes to help guide you; therefore, preparing for open water swimming is critical. You will require a wetsuit which is a completely different experience to swimming without one, added buoyancy, tight fitting and resistance in the arms all make it a different experience for first-timers.
The Zone3 range of wetsuits is designed and made to give you the best possible experience in open water. Zone3 work closely with many open water venues across the UK where you can head on down and give open water swimming a go for the first time or use it as your regular swim venue.
Here are a few venues that Zone 3 work with:
Shepperton Lake, Middlesex - http://sheppertonopenwaterswim.co.uk/
Services - Wetsuit hire, swim kit sales, RLSS qualified staff, running track, coaching, events.
This lake is all about swimming first and benefits from not being shared with other water users. Whether you just want to do a leisurely 400m loop or are training for a cross-channel attempt, you will be able to take advantage of a relaxed atmosphere. The site also offers free parking, refreshments and indoor changing facilities. Rental wetsuits are available for hire at £5.
Race Hub, Sixhills Leicester - https://www.racehub.uk/swim/
Services – Coaching, winter and summer swimming, used by British Triathlon, Race Team, wetsuit hire.
Race Hub is a fantastic open water swimming venue used by British Triathlon, local triathlon clubs and swimmers. With great water quality and safety in place for every session, they welcome swimmers of all abilities. 600m swim loop.
London Docklands - http://www.londonroyaldocksows.co.uk
Services – Wetsuit hire, coaching, swim squads, kids swimming, all abilities welcome.
With a full safety system in place, the docklands together with a thorough water testing program makes open water swimming an amazing experience.
Chasewater, Cannock – https://www.chaseopenwater.com
Services – Wetsuit hire, all abilities, events, children and adult sessions, non-wetsuit swimming.
Chasewater offers open water swimming/Go Tri’s/Aquathlons and lots of fun for all abilities with wetsuit hire and various other pieces of kit also for hire. Swim as much or as little as you like and there is a shallow area for you to start in.Young swimmers must be accompanied by an adult.
Box End Park, Nr Milton Keynes – In conjunction with Tri Sports Letchworth
Services – Wetsuit Hire, safety crews, off-road running and cycling, coaching, events.
Box End Park is the perfect training venue for open water swimming and off road running and cycling. The lakes are spring fed, making the water incredibly clean and safe for swimmers. The site is fully serviced with free, secure car parking, changing rooms, lockers and warm showers. They have a full range of rental wetsuits available for hire priced at £5.
Boundary Park and Salford Quays, Manchester – http://www.uswimopenwater.com
Services – Wetsuit hire, swim kit sales, changing facilities, events
They offer a range of coaching activities to help you master the beautiful sport of swimming, with experienced qualified staff, all abilities are welcome at this great venue.
They can supply you with all the kit and equipment required to enjoy your open water swimming from hiring wetsuits, swim caps to goggles and natural glide protection.
Betchworth, Surrey Hills – http://www.thesurreyhillsadventurecompany.com/p/wild-swimming.html
Services – All abilities welcome, maximum of 3 metres deep, open water swimming courses, events, wetsuit hire, lifeguards.
Their open water swim course is a 400m loop and is ideal for experienced open water swimmers and beginners alike. The course is laid out to be no further than 10m - 15m away from the edge at any point and is patrolled by our RLSS Open Water qualified Lifeguards. The water is crystal clear and only 3m deep at its deepest point so is one of the safest open water swim venues in the country.
Divers Cove, Godstone, Surrey – https://www.diverscove.co.uk/about-us
Services – Scuba diving, triathlon training, safety crews, multi-course, lake hire.
A beautiful 7.3-acre reservoir with exceptional water quality due to its natural biodiversity and sandy bottom. Having two circuits (450m and 650m) both clearly marked by large buoys and having a minimum of one fully trained safety crew on the water at all times together with one spotter on the pontoon with direct access to a safety boat.
Barrs Bay, Northern Ireland
Services – Salt Water man-made lake, coaching
The largest saltwater tidal Lough in the U.K., Strangford Lough hosts swimming sessions twice weekly, on Tuesday at 7 am and Thursday at 7 pm.
There's no better feeling than swimming in the great outdoors, so come and try one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. Whether you're training for a triathlon, want to improve your technique, or just experience open water swimming, zone3 will help you achieve your goals with our industry-leading kit.
Written by Jase Walkley
Cover Image by ActivImage