The Best Places to go Open Water Swimming in Manchester

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As we’re moving towards the warmer summer weather, many people will be heading out across the UK to enjoy an open water swim. You may think that living in a city would make it more difficult to access open water. But wherever you live, there is always an open water swimming location close by that you can make the most of. To make it easy for you to find the best wild swimming spots in Manchester, we’ve created this useful guide.

*Remember to follow safety advice when swimming in open water to reduce the dangers.*

Dock 9

  • Location: Salford Quays, west Manchester
  • Price: £7-10
  • Swim course length: 250m, 500m, 750m, & 1000m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Tow float/bag

Just west of Manchester city centre, you’ll find the Salford Quays. This wild swimming spot is quality water tested and located at Dock 9 at the Salford Quays. Swimming sessions here are organised and supervised by the USwim group and cost between £7 and £10 depending on whether you pre-book your swim or pay on the day. Wetsuits are optional at Dock 9 and are available to hire if you would prefer to use one.

Helly Hansen Watersports Centre

  • Location: Dock 8, Salford Quays, west Manchester
  • Price: £5
  • Swim course length: 300m & 500m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Wetsuit or tow float/bag (When water is 14 degrees or colder)

Also located at Salford Quays (at dock 8) is Helly Hansen Watersports Centre. There are less swim circuits at this dock and these circuits are shorter than the ones at Dock 9. However, 300m and 500m are still good swimming lengths and you could swim the circuit a couple of times if you wanted a longer swim. 

When the water temperature goes below 14 degrees, it’s a requirement to either wear a wetsuit or bring a tow float or dry bag into the water with you. If you need to store your belongings like a towel and change of clothes, there are lockers (bring £1) or cages (bring a padlock) where you can store them. However, we wouldn’t recommend storing your valuables here. Instead, it’s best to leave them at home, in your car or bring them in your dry bag.

Sale Water Park

Open Swim UK runs open water swimming sessions at the Trafford Watersports Centre at Sale Water Park between April and September (winter swimming sessions are available from October to March). When you go for your first swim at Sale Water Park, you will need to have a safety talk before getting in the water. A full introductory swimming session isn’t required, but is available along with training sessions for anyone who is less confident or new to wild swimming. Facilities at this venue include changing rooms, lockers, hot showers, and a cafe, making warming up after your swim a little easier.

Elton Reservoir

  • Location: Bury, north Manchester
  • Price: £5
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Wetsuit & brightly coloured swim hat

Guided swimming sessions are available at Elton Reservoir (officially called Manchester Bolton and Bury Reservoir) run by the Bolton Triathlon Club from May to September. Make sure you bring your wetsuit and bright swim cap otherwise you won’t be allowed in the water. After your swim, you can warm up in a hot shower before using the changing rooms to get ready to go home.

The Secret Lake

  • Location: Levenshulme, south-east Manchester
  • Supervised?: No

The Secret Lake (which isn’t that secret) is located next to a large industrial estate in Levenshulme - not where you’d expect to find a beautiful wild swimming spot. An 8 year long community project worked on the Secret Lake to make it swim safe. However, you do still need to be careful of any underwater debris, especially as there are no lifeguards at this location. To find this swim location, we recommend going along the charming Fallowfield Loop. However, it can also be accessed from Longford Lane.

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