Best Places for Open Water Swimming in London

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In the built up city of London, you wouldn’t imagine there are many (if any) large bodies of water that are clean and safe enough to swim in. However, luckily for the people of London, there are many beautiful open water swimming locations within the capital.

*It’s important to remember that open water swimming can be very dangerous. To minimise these dangers, we strongly recommend that you follow our safety advice.*

West Reservoir Centre

  • Location: Hackney, north-east London
  • Price: £5-11
  • Swim course length: 25m, 100m, 200m & 400m (depending on weather conditions)
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Red, orange, or pink swimming cap & a wetsuit or a tow float/bag

West Reservoir Centre in the north-east of London has 23 acres of water, facilities like changing rooms and toilets, and offers a variety of swim circuits depending on the weather. As well as being a popular London location for open water swimming, this centre also runs other water sport activities like sailing and kayaking.

Hampstead Heath Ponds

  • Location: Hampstead Heath, north London
  • Price: £4
  • Supervised?: Yes

Open most days between February and September, Hampstead Heath Ponds is made up of 3 open water swimming ponds: Kenwood Ladies Pond, Highgate Mens Pond, and Hampstead Mixed Pond. With showers and changing facilities, you can enjoy bringing the whole family swimming or you could sneak away for a peaceful swim alone (under the safe watch of the lifeguards).

Beckenham Park Place Lake

  • Location: Beckenham, south-east London
  • Price: £5-6
  • Swim course length: 350m-450m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Tow float/bag

Located towards the southern outskirts of London, Beckenham Park Place Lake is a purpose built wild swimming lake. Set within 96 hectares of beautiful nature, the 285m long and 3.5m deep lake sits alongside an ancient woodland. This location is ideal for a day of fun strolling through the woods before going for a quick dip in the lake.

Royal Docks

  • Location: Newham, east London
  • Price: £8
  • Swim course length: 150m-750m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: NOWCA wristband, brightly coloured hat, & a tow float/bag

There’s so much going on at the Royal Docks and one of those things is open water swimming! Who would’ve thought you could swim outside in the centre of London, right next to the Thames, while being supervised by lifeguards and in clean water. With a swimming area of 150-170m, this location is great if you want to swim shorter distances or don’t mind doing laps.

Canary Wharf

  • Location: Near Isle of Dogs, east London
  • Price: £8
  • Swim course length: 600m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: NOWCA wristband

Go slightly further upstream along the Thames and you’ll come across another open water swimming venue in the centre of London. Canary Wharf has a bigger swimming area with a distance of 600m so you have more freedom to swim a bigger circuit or longer laps.

Serpentine Lido

  • Location: Hyde Park, Central London
  • Price: £2-7
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap

Running through Hyde Park, the Serpentine has an area designated for open water swimmers (however, you may have to share the water with the ducks). Although you would usually need to be a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club (currently not accepting new members), between June and September, the public are allowed to swim in the Serpentine.

Merchant Taylors Lake

  • Location: Moor Park, Hertfordshire
  • Price: £8
  • Swim course length: 150m, 300m, 500m, 750m, & 1000m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap

Merchant Taylors Lake is a freshwater lake attached to the Merchant Taylors School. Open to the public in the peak summer season, wild swimmers have 5 different swim circuit distances to choose from ranging from 150m to 1km. Take a dip here and enjoy the tranquil blue waters.

River Colne

  • Location: Ricksmansworth, Hertfordshire
  • Supervised?: No

For a river swim on the north west outskirts of London, the River Colne is a beautiful spot. Step into a peaceful oasis surrounded by nature - you’d have no idea you were anywhere near a city. Simply follow the path between Bury Lake and Stocker’s Lake until you reach the River Colne. The river is shallow here but it’s fast. This is a beautiful swim but we recommend that only experienced open water swimmers swim in this river as the fast water gets gradually deeper as you go downstream.

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