Open Water Swimming

Open Water Swimming

We have Open water swim coaching available through our head coach Jo Watkinson.

A number of club members regularly meet for social swims and coffee at Denham on saturday mornings too.

We also haver indoor pool swim training three times a week. Click here for details 

Open Water Swim Training

Open Water Swimming

Several club members also swim at other lakes locally - usually Denham Lake, Merchant Taylors Lake or Box End Water Park.  If you are thinking of going to any of the venues to swim, let club members know and they may want to join you.  Denham also has food and drink available!

Scroll to the bottom of the page to read what to expect.

The open water swim Venues we would recomend to use are listed below

Denham Lake

N Orbital Road, Denham, Uxbridge, UB9 5HE

Denham Lake open water swimming

Merchant Taylors School

Sandy Lodge, Northwood, MiddlesexHA6 2HT

Merchant Taylors School open water swimming

Box End Park

Box End Road, Bedford, MK43 8RQ

Box End open water swimming


Top tips for preparing for open water swimming in the pool

If you have never swum in open water, it can be quite differnet from the swimming pool.  Firstly, it's likely to be quite a lot colder. Secondly, you are not likley to be able to see as much when you are underwater as you can in a pool.  Thirdly, there are other things to consider like entry and exit from the water, wildlife and weather.  Don't let any of that put you off - open water swimming is exhilarating and fun.  Once you get the hang of it, you'll love it.  If you are thinking of getting in the open water for the first time, let us know and we can help you prepare.

Most open water swimmers wear a wetsuit (although you don't have to) and have open water specfic goggles.  These don't need to cost the earth.  Some open water venues have wetsuits that you can borrow or hire.  If in doubt, ask the Coaches, Activators or your club mates who will be more than happy to give you some advice.

Jumping into a large body of (maybe cold) water for the first time can be a bit of a shock. So, we have compiled some top tips to what you can do in the pool to prepare.

Preparing for open water swimming: strokes

  1. It is vital to be comfortable with your stroke in open water. Most open water swimmers choose front crawl, so start by making sure yours is in good shape in the pool.
  2. Try get competent in another stroke, such as breaststroke. You may need to recover in open water and breaststroke uses less energy than front crawl.
  3. Open water swimming is no splash and dash. They are at least 500m. Use pool time to ensure you can confidently swim further than the event you are entering without having to put your feet down.

Preparing for open water swimming: techniques

So you’re front crawl is awesome and your endurance off the chart. But you need to prepare for a few more surprises open water can spring on you.


  • In the open water there are no lane lines. You need to practice looking ahead during your swim to find a marker in the distance to follow.
  • Looking up is a simple thing to practice in the pool. Try perfecting it so you don’t disrupt your rhythm.
  • Practise swimming in a straight line. Close your eyes while swimming and see whether you veer left or right (most people do). Try tweaking your stroke to straighten your natural line.

Treading water

  • There is no wall to hold or kick off from in open water. Use pool time to get used to treading water in the deep end. You could spend a lot of time treading water in open water.


  • Most events will involve turning around a marker buoy, often four or five times a race. If you have space in the pool and a willing practice-mate, swim up to and round your friend without touching the walls or bottom of the pool.

Breathing Both Ways

  • Breathing on alternative sides (sometimes called bilateral breathing) in open water events is a necessity. It may not feel natural at first, but focus on your technique in the pool and it will become more comfortable.
  • Let your head and spine join the rotation of your shoulders, inhale sharply then turn your face smoothly back in time with your shoulder rotation.

Group Swimming

  • Lots of people swimming together can come as a bit of a shock the first time you swim in an open water event. Practise group swimming with four or five of your friends in one lane of the pool to help get used to the feeling.