Open Water Swimming at Trifarm

With the triathlon season soon starting, the swimming lakes are starting to reopen and it’s time to take my pool-based training into the open water.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the reopening of Trifarm after swimming there a few times last summer. It’s a great facility with an 800m swimming lake, 10km cycling route and 1km running track. Plus they sell cake and bacon sandwiches for after your swim!

I booked onto a coaching session lead by Tri ‘n’ Swim Well (love that name) along with Glen and my friends Hayley and Andy from Havering Tri. We were split into intermediate and novice groups and coaxed into the 13 degree water.

Open Water Swimming Trifarm

The temperature was definitely bracing and it took a while to acclimatise. We started swimming towards the first buoy straight away to keep moving and avoid getting too cold. It was Glen’s first time in open-water and he struggled to breathe as the cold water can be a shock to the system.

Our coaches instructed and followed us from a kayak, at least they got to keep dry and warm (ish)!  We swam as a group to each buoy and stopped to listen to feedback and instructions. 
The lake is lovely and clean, and its shallow enough at the edges to stand up. We stood on the squishy, slimy lakebed to warm our feet and tried not to think about what might be down there!

Throughout the session we went through different skills such as sighting, swimming alongside a partner and stroke technique. The instructor complimented me on my sighting skills- it was nice to have some good feedback on my swimming! I picked up some tips such as sighting wide of the buoy when the wind is creating a current in the lake, so that way you will navigate on course towards the buoy. 

Another challenge was swimming in a straight line- it’s so easy to veer off course without the lanes of a swimming pool to guide you. We swam with our eyes closed to see if we could stay on a straight path. As expected I pulled over to the right, my stroke is quite imbalanced and I have a stronger pull with my left arm. It’s something for me to work on!

Open Water Swimming Trifarm


Glen is a strong swimmer and soon shot to the front of the pack, once his body had acclimatised to the cold water. I find swimming in a wetsuit very tiring, the rubber sleeves provide more resistance and each stroke seems to take more effort. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the session!

We spent an hour swimming two laps of the lake, totaling 1600m (1 mile). Our group joined up with the novice swimmers, and we set off on a mass start to simulate race day at a triathlon. Drafting on the swim saves a great deal of energy (it’s said up to 25-30%) for the rest of the race. I swam behind Hayley and had the benefit of being pulled along in her slipstream!


Open Water Swimming Trifarm
Glen and I had brought our bikes to make the most of the session at Trifarm, so we set off on a ride around the country lanes. Our cycle involved a lot of stopping and starting as we were unfamiliar with the route and had to check the map regularly. We took a few wrong turns but it all added to the mileage. It was a hilly route and I pushed to keep up with Glen’s pace. We arrived back at Trifarm after 27.3 miles, and we did think about going for a run but decided against it!

Open Water Swimming Trifarm


I’ll hopefully get in a few more sessions at Trifarm before my first big race of the season. I’d thoroughly recommend Tri ‘n’ Swim Well sessions to anyone new to open water swimming. It was £17 for the session and they are running throughout the summer. They also hire and sell HUUB wetsuits, which are considered to be the best on the market.

Spending the morning at the lake, meant that I missed out on the buzz of spectating at the London Marathon. I had a lot of catching up and congratulating to do on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram when I got home! 

Have you ever tried open water swimming? Did you watch the marathon over the weekend?

10 Comments

  1. December 1, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    You are brave! I am still diving but in a dry suit. Looked at the temperature of my local marine lake today and decided that 2.5deg was just a little too cold for me. Think my open water swimming is done now until the spring!!!

    • December 1, 2016 / 7:40 pm

      Definitely, there’s no way I’d swim in 2.5 degrees! I think 12-13 is the lowest temperature I’ve ever been in, which is around April/May time.

  2. December 1, 2016 / 9:56 am

    Oh my goodness, I had to check the date of your post when I started reading! I have just come in from my morning miles and I thought ‘open swimming season is in December?!’ and was relieved to see that it is an older post!! Phew!

    I am a lover of swimming in really choppy water and the sea, but haven’t really had the opportunity to do swimming so much in recent years. I would really love to give it another go though and £17 is not a bad price for it either. Hmm, something to think about for next year. (definitely not now!!)

    • December 1, 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Oh god no, there’s no way I’d swim in December! The lakes open around April time but even then it’s pretty chilly!

  3. November 30, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    I am a massive wimp and can only manage an old lady style breaststroke so think that the open water is beyond me! Sounds like a great facility though and so helpful for your training.

    • December 1, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      You’re definitely not a wimp for swimming breaststroke! I had years of swimming lessons to get up to a decent standard with my front crawl to be able to attempt open-water, so don’t feel like it’s beyond you. Trifarm is an awesome facility though, I’m looking forward to it’s reopening in the summer.

  4. November 29, 2016 / 12:08 pm

    This looks incredible, would love to do more open water swimming (ad eventually a triathlon) but only a short one, running is not my forte, tragically!

    • December 1, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      Running is not my forte either unfortunately! It’s definitely my weakest of the three areas, but I don’t let that stop me!

  5. November 29, 2016 / 7:12 am

    Swimming lakes! What an interesting concept – I’ve never heard of such a thing. I never heard of wild swimming either until I moved to the UK. I grew up in rural Canada and every lake was a swimming lake – there were very few and far between public pools as folk swam in the sea or in the lakes at any beach. Love the idea of these swimming lakes though, especially inland. Trifarm sounds like a great place to train. Love your logo, by the way! New follower here! 🙂

    • December 1, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Yes there are quite a few swimming lakes near me. I love the idea of wild swimming but just feel like it’s safer at a special facility. It must be amazing swimming in Canada. Thanks for following 🙂

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