Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Or unsure about something? Have a look at our FAQ's first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can swim here?

The minimum age for swimmers is 8, children between 8 and 16 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 do not 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.

What does it cost?

Swimming costs £3 +50p booking fee at both venues. Swimming must be prebooked via the booking website (Open Water Swimming | Race Sign Up)

You may only swim at your allocated time.

Please note this does NOT include car parking, this is pay and display at both venues. Sywell is £3.20 (card facilities exist but please bring cash in case it is not working correctly) and Daventry is £2 (Cash only).

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 11.30am on a Saturday and 7.30pm on a Wednesday.

Can I just turn up and swim?

No, I'm afraid not. All swimmers must prebook via the booking website(Open Water Swimming | Race Sign Up) sessions book up quick but there is often cancellations so worth keep checking back.

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 (please observe any covid guidelines in place at the time) the volunteer team will invite you to get in at your time and take your name to tick you off the list and mark you as having entered the lake. When you get out there will be a volunteer to mark you as having left the water. You may swim for the full session or get in/out part way through the choice is yours. You will then need to change/make yourself comfortable before either staying and enjoying the park or heading home. Both parks have beautiful walks and a café.

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 11.30am on a Saturday and 7.30pm on a Wednesday.

What equipment do I need?

All swimmers need a brightly coloured swim hat that can easily be spotted by the shore and water-based safety teams.

Wetsuits are encouraged but not mandatory. If you chose to swim without one you MUST swim with a tow float.

So, your options are:

  • Wetsuit and brightly coloured swim hat
  • Swimsuit, brightly coloured swim hat and tow float.

*Sywell* Hats, tow floats and other open water swim equipment including wetsuits (no stock wetsuits are kept and are ordered on request) are available to buy from the Swim Director.

*Daventry* Tow floats and Swim Hats will be available to buy from the Swim Director very soon.

Wetsuits, Swim Hats and Tow floats are widely available from a variety of retailers online. A wetsuit designed specifically for swimming is advised although any wetsuit will help keep you warm.

How do we book?

Yes, please visit the booking website(Open Water Swimming | Race Sign Up) find the Open Water Swimming session and venue you would like and follow instructions. Slots book up quickly

Are there lifeguards?

Yes, we have on water and on shore lifeguards, if you are concerned, please speak to the swim director who will point them out to you. We also have an extensive on and off water safety team looking out for you.

Is it safe?

The venues are as safe as we can make them but there are risks involved in the activity and it should only be attempted by competent swimmers.

The venues have 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. Tow floats are a great to hang on to if you need a rest.

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

Please 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 recommend for less experienced open water swimmers even if you are wearing a wetsuit.

Is the water tested?

Yes, both our venues have regular water quality checks to ensure its safe for you to swim with us. Please ask a member of the 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. But so far no one has experienced any unwanted attention from the wildlife we share the lake with. As the water warms up the weeds will start to grow but normally only in the shallow areas and our onshore 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?

Both venues operate a pay and display car parks, at time of writing Daventry is £2 (all Day) and Sywell is £3.20 (4hrs). Sywell machines accept cards although try and have cash as a backup in case the card reader is out of service. Daventry is cash only. Both parks offer a parking season ticket which is available through their websites.

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 11.30am on a Saturday and 7.30pm on a Wednesday.

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

No, you must not give your space to a friend. You can withdraw from your booking and get a credit for a future swim. (see 'Can I Cancel a booking' for all the information and time restrictions to do this.) This would make a space available for your friend to book.

Can someone Kayak/Paddleboard while I swim?

No, I'm afraid neither venue currently permit this. We do have on 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 maybe 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 the 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 calmy assist getting everyone out of the water. 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 dryer 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 competitive and charity swims. Please be respectful of other swimmers and watch where you are swimming. There is plenty of room for all.

You must 'sign in' at swim entry and 'sign out' at swim exit.

If you get into difficulty, please roll onto your back and shout/signal for help.

If you spot a swimmer in distress, please do stop and help them attract the attention of the water safety team.

Please look out for your fellow swimmers.

Please arrive 'swim ready' as there is limited changing facilities. Most people change by their vehicles and use modesty robes. Both venues are public parks that are open when we use them so, please do refrain from nudity while changing. Both parks have toilet facilities that you can use but please do bear in mind that at currently (May 2021) there is strict limits on how many people can use these at one time and they are open to the public as well.

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.

Is it just for fast swimmers?

Absolutely not, we welcome all speeds of swimmers - we just ask that you are a competent swimmer. There are very few places in either lake where you will be able to stand up.

How far do I have to swim?

The full lap at both venues is 500m, with a shorter 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 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 more 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 wetsuit 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.

Is there a minimum age?

Yes 12 is the preferred minimum age however over 8 is allowed but all children will be asked to swim for the Swim Director so that they are happy with the child's ability. All under 16's MUST be accompanied in the water by an adult (over 18) who must swim with them.

Where do I buy a wetsuit from?

There are many online retailers that sell Wetsuits specifically for swimming. Zone 3, Huub, Wiggle, Speedhub (also has a physical store in Lutterworth) and many more. 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 guidenece on wear to buy a wetsuit from and what sorts would be best for what you'd like to do.

Do you hire out wetsuits?

No, I'm afraid we are unable to offer wetsuit 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. Both lakes are 100% ran by volunteers and are always on the lookout for fab new members.

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 changing rooms?

No, swimmers are advised to come ready to swim and use a modesty gown (Dryrobe, toweling robe etc) when changing afterwards. Please remember the parks are open to the public and nudity must be avoided. Please change at your vehicle or lake side using a modesty robe.

Are there Toilets?

Yes, both sites have public toilets, please observe any social distancing instructions in place.

Are there refreshments available?

Yes, both sites have coffee shops

Can I bring a family member or friend?

The parks are open to the public, so friends and family are welcome to the venues while swimming is taking place. Please do however respect the Covid guidelines that are in place at the time and avoid congregating at swim entry/exit. Dogs are also welcome at both venues but please do remember to be responsible and clear up after it and follow any signage. Both parks have lots of wildlife and at times you may be requested to follow specific instructions that are not necessarily in place all year round.

Can I cancel a booking?

Yes, you can withdraw from a session. To receive a credit for a future swim you must withdraw by the cut off times shown below:

  • Saturday swims must be cancelled by 6pm on the preceding Thursday
  • Sunday Swims must be cancelled by 6pm on the preceding Friday
  • Wednesday swims must be cancelled by 6pm on the preceding Monday

Please do cancel at your earliest opportunity to allow the spot to be booked by another swimmer.

Is it competitive?

No, the venues are open to all swimmers. There will be those training for competitive events but also plenty who just want to enjoy the benefits of open water swimming.

Do you hold competitive events at the venue?

Yes, although at currently just at our Sywell venue. We hold regular events throughout the year including charity swims, duathlons, aquathons and triathlons, please visit Events | Northamptonshire Sport for more information.

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