The Best Open Water Swimming Venues in Essex

The Best Open Water Swimming Venues in Essex

As we’re approaching the open water swimming season between April and September, the weather (and the water) is starting to get warmer. Instead of joining the crowd flocking to the busy indoor swimming pools, head out into nature and experience the peace and quiet of swimming outdoors.

*Remember that open water swimming can be dangerous. It’s always important to be aware of the risks and how to stay safe.*

Lake Swimming

Hadleigh Country Park

  • Location: Hadleigh, Benfleet
  • Price: £6.50
  • Swim course length: 380m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, goggles, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband

Make the most of the summer warmth with a wild swim at Hadleigh Country Park. Qualified lifeguards and the NOWCA wristbands make swimming at this location safer (as well as giving you the opportunity to track your swimming time and distance). There are also changing facilities and hot showers which are a great bonus after getting out of the cold water. To swim at this lake you will need to pre-book using the Actio app.

Gosfield Lake

  • Location: Gosfield, Colchester
  • Price: £5
  • Swim course length: 300m, 1,200m, & 1,500m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Tow float/bag & Gosfield Lake swim cap (£5)

Swimming at Gosfield Lake gives you the option of different distance swim courses so you can use this venue for a quick dip or a longer swim. The depth of this lake is only 5 feet so most people will be able to stand up in the water. You might notice that the water at this lake is muddy, however it is safe to swim in. You can also use the changing facilities, hot showers and cafe at the venue after your swim.

Stubbers Adventure Centre

  • Location: Upminster
  • Skills session price: £25
  • Fitness session price: £12
  • Swim course length: 750m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Wetsuit, bright coloured swim hat (not red), & Lakemate band (£10) or PoolMate Plus.

The lake at Stubbers Adventure Centre is man-made with a variety of useful facilities including toilets, showers, a car park, hot drinks and biscuits, great for warming up after your swim. If you are a new open water swimmer, you’ll need to take at least one skills session (between May-July) before you can join the fitness sessions. The fitness sessions allow you to swim in the open water with the safety of staff supervision.

Mersea Boating Lake

  • Location: Mersea Island
  • Price: £5
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Tow float/bag

As one of the only open water swimming lakes in Essex that is open all year round, Monday to Friday, the Mersea Boating Lake is an excellent place for your open water swim. Not only can you go for a leisurely swim at this venue, you can also take part in an introduction session or private coaching. Looking for something a bit different? Here you can have a bit of fun with specific event days for swimming with your dog and family fun swimming sessions.

Swim Lakeside

  • Location: Thurrock
  • Price: £8.50
  • Swim course length: 40m, 100m, 150m, 200m, & 400m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband

Located at Alexandra Lake next to Intu Lakeside shopping centre, this wild swimming venue has great changing and showering facilities as well as lockers (bring a padlock). Like Hadleigh Country Park, to swim at Swim Lakeside you’ll need the Actio app and a NOWCA wristband. This lake is ideal if you’re not very confident or new to open water swimming due to the shortest swim course being a distance of only 40m.

River Swimming

Dedham Vale

  • Location: Flatford Mill or Fen Bridge, near Dedham
  • Supervised?: No

On the outskirts of Essex you’ll find a couple of beautiful outdoor swimming locations along the River Stour. The first of these is Flatford Mill, popular for rowing and wild swimming. The second location is Fen Bridge with its 2 metre deep river pools. At Fen Bridge you need to be careful of weeds and the water is Grade C due to fertiliser content. Despite this, it is safe to swim here and is a beautiful location (but we would recommend using a nose clip and ear plugs).

River Chelmer

  • Location: Ulting, Hatfield Peverel
  • Supervised?: No

Like in the River Stour, there are multiple beautiful open water swimming locations along the River Chelmer. The best swimming locations in the River Chelmer are around Hoe Mill Lock. The 2 mile stretch of river going downstream from the Hoe Mill Lock is great for wild swimming. On the other hand, you could walk upstream and go for a dip in the river opposite the Ulting church.

Sea Swimming

Chalkwell Beach

  • Location: Chalkwell, Southend-on-Sea
  • Supervised?: No

If swimming in the sea appeals to you more than rivers or lakes, Chalkwell Beach is ideal. There are many open water swimming groups that swim off of Chalkwell Beach that you could join, including the Southend Seals, the Chalkwell Redcaps, the Bluetits, and the mens Bluebells. Or you could go swimming with a friend or alone (make sure you follow safety advice).

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