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Who can swim here?

The minimum age for swimmers is 8. 

Children between 8 and 12 must be accompanied in the water by a competent adult.

Depending on conditions or the assessed competence of the young swimmer, the swim director may refuse access to the lake.

You don’t need to be a fast or competitive swimmer to come and enjoy swimming with us. We welcome everyone, we do however ask that you are a competent swimmer for your own safety.

You may only swim at your allocated time.

Please note the cost of swimming does NOT include car parking, this is pay and display at both venues. 


All swimmers must wear a brightly coloured swim hat for safety reasons, no exceptions. These can be borrowed from the swim team if you don't have one. 

Wet suits are optional - although we do recommend them for warmth and additional buoyancy.

If you swim without a wet-suit, a tow float is mandatory. These can be purchased from the pop-up shop. 

Can I just turn up and swim?

No, sorry! All swimmers must pre-book via the booking website, sessions book up quickly but there are often cancellations so it’s worth keeping checking the website.

What should I do on arrival?

Please arrive ready to swim or get changed using a modesty robe or similar (please bear in mind the parks are open to the public and nudity must be avoided). Once you are ready, please head down to near the swim entry point. The volunteer team will check you in on the list before you enter the water.

When you leave the water there will be a volunteer to check you out on the list too.


You may swim for the full session or get in/out partway through – the choice is yours. You will then need to change/make yourself comfortable before either staying and enjoying the park or heading home. 

Please be aware if you are parked on the grass area at Sywell and wish to stay at the park beyond your swim time you will need to move your vehicle into one of the two main car parks as the gate to the grass area is locked at 11.30 am on a Saturday and 7.30 pm on a Wednesday.

How do I book?

Please visit the booking tab on this website to book your session. 

Are there lifeguards?

Yes, we have on-shore lifeguards, plus on water support. If you are concerned, please speak to the Swim Director who will point them out to you. 

Is it safe?

The venue is as safe as we can make it, but there are natural risks involved in the activity. 

The venue has extensive safety procedures in place and if you have specific concerns, please do speak to the swim director and they will answer any questions that you have.

Please note that the lakes are deep, and in most areas, you will be unable to touch the bottom so Tow floats are great to hang on to if you need a rest.

What if I get in trouble or panic while in the water?

Please roll on to your back, and put your hand in their air to attract the attention of the on-water support team. The kayaks and paddle-boarders are trained to assist swimmers out of the water safely and do so on a weekly basis. Please do not hesitate to ask/shout/wave for help. A tow float can act as a safety device and is recommended for less experienced open water swimmers even if you are wearing a wet-suit.

Is the water tested?

Yes, we undertake regular water quality checks to ensure its safe for you to swim with us. Please ask a member of the on-shore team if you’d like to know more.

Are there weeds/wildlife?

Yes, depending on the time of the year you swim with us this can vary. As the water warms up the weeds will start to grow but normally only in the shallow areas and our on-shore teams will be able to advise you where they are and how best to avoid or tackle them as required.

What are the parking arrangements?

The park operates a pay and display car parks, at the time of writing is £3.20 for up to 4hrs. The machines accept cards although we advise trying to carry cash as a backup in case the card reader is out of service.

The parking for swimming is on the grass in front of the lake. Please be aware the gates to this area will be closed and locked by 11.30 am Saturdays and 8 pm on Wednesday evenings. If you plan to remain in the park longer than this, please use the main car park near the cafe. 

I cannot make it anymore; can I give my slot to my friend?

No, you must not give your space to a friend.

Can someone kayak/paddle-board while I swim?

Not at this time. We do have water safety teams, and they would be delighted to speak to anyone who would like to get involved with that area of the volunteer team.

In what conditions would a swim be cancelled/stopped? And how would I know?

There are circumstances when it is necessary to cancel a swim, this might be in good time and will be posted on the Facebook page. It may be last minute as the safety team arrive at the lake and make that decision. We will always do everything we can to get the message out as soon as possible and please do check the Facebook pages if you are concerned it might be cancelled.

In the three years that we have been operating at Sywell we have stopped swimming just once and this was partway through the morning when it was deemed unsafe to continue. In this case, the Swim Director and Safety Team make the call and a ‘horn’ will sound and the Safety Team will calmly assist in getting everyone out of the water.


Blue-Green Algae can appear without warning; this has caused disruption in the past again we will do everything we can to let swimmers know the session are unable to run. We do swim in the rain so please don’t let that put you off, its often drier in the lake on a wet day than on the side!

What is the etiquette?

The lakes are open for all swimmers from those wishing to swim with friends chatting and admiring the views to those training for triathlons, competitive and charity swims.

Please be respectful of other swimmers and watch where you are swimming. There is plenty of room for all.


There is no ‘safe’ bag drop. Items are left shore side at your own risk. You can buy Tow floats that have compartments for valuables and many swimmers find these useful.

How far do I have to swim?

As far as you like within your time slot! The full lap is approx. 500m, with a shorter approx. 250m loop available, please speak to a member of the volunteer team if you would like to swim less or are worried about the distance and they will support and advise you on what your options are.

Is it cold?

This depends on what you are used to! To most yes, it is cold. Even in the summer months, the lake will feel cold. You will find the more regularly you swim in open water you will become used to this. The team would have taken the temperature before the start of the session so you can ask what it is before you get in.

You will gradually acclimatize to the cold and there are many products out there to keep you warm. A wet-suit is a great start, you can also buy neoprene hats, gloves and socks. All will help keep you warm and protect you from the cold water. Please speak to the shore-side volunteers if you are concerned, they are there to help you get the most out of your swim and keep you safe.

Where do I buy a wet-suit from?

You can purchase direct from the 'Zone 3 partners' page on this website for great discounts.

There are many online retailers that sell Wet-suits specifically for swimming.

A good fit is important so please do check out the size guides for all the different brands.

The swim directors at both venues will be able to offer advice and guidance on wear to buy a wet-suit from and what sorts would be best for what you’d like to do.

Do you hire out wet-suits?

No, I’m afraid we are unable to offer wet-suit hire but there are companies that do hire them. A quick google search will bring them up.

I’d like to volunteer

Fabulous, please speak to one of the volunteers at the lake and they will point you in the right direction to sign up.

Can I swim outside of the booking slots?

No! You are only able to swim in either lake during the official swim sessions.

Are there refreshments available?

Yes, there is a cafe open from 10 am

Can I bring a family member or friend?

The park is are open to the public, so friends and family are welcome to the venues while swimming is taking place. Dogs are also welcome but please do remember to be responsible and clear up after it and follow any signage.

Can I cancel a booking?

Unfortunately not, we have to operate a ‘no refunds’ policy to keep our administration costs to a minimum as a charity. If for any reason we have to cancel the sessions then we will credit you for the swim you’ve missed.

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