Summer is almost over, but there is still time to squeeze in some more open-water swimming before the temperature drops. I’ve enjoyed exploring different swimming venues over the past few triathlon seasons, here are five of my favourites:
Trifarm, Boreham, Essex
Trifarm is complete facility for triathlon training with a purpose built lake, 1km running track, transition area and 10km cycle route from the gate. The lake has a marked 800m course plus it’s fairly shallow, well-supervised and you are able to exit easily from any point around the perimeter. There’s changing rooms, portaloos and most importantly a variety of delicious cakes for sale!
Trifarm tends to be my first choice for open-water swimming and my most frequently visited facility as I’m not restricted by the opening times. The venue is open 5pm-8pm on weekdays and 8.30am-2pm on weekends, between April and October. Individual swims cost £7, but a season pass works out cheaper.
Redricks Lakes, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire
Redricks was a new swimming venue for me this summer, but RG Active have been running sessions there for a number of years. Coached sessions take place on Wednesdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 8.30am, although you can just turn up and swim on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. There’s changing rooms and a cafe on-site selling the all important post-swim snacks. The 750m swim course is marked by buoys in a triangular shape. I did find that the water was murky with tiny pieces of pond-weed, but otherwise a fairly pleasant swim.
Stubbers Adventure Centre, Upminster, Essex
Swim for Tri operate sessions at Stubbers on Saturday mornings for both beginners and advanced swimmers. It’s an early start- registration is from 6.30am, but worth it to watch the sun rise over the lake. The loop around the edge by the outer buoys totals almost a kilometre. After your swim, there’s hot drinks and biscuits plus shower and changing facilities. I’ve haven’t made it to Stubbers this summer, but it was firm favourite in 2014 and 2015. It’s £10 for an individual fitness swim or you can buy a block of sessions.
Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire
The former site of the 2012 Olympic canoe slalom makes for a stunning swimming venue. Although the course is fairly short at 500m, the water is very clear and shallow- you can see the bottom all the way around. They host an evening aquathlon which I’ve taken part in twice- the lake swim is followed by a 5.5km run along the Lee Valley canal. The lake is open for swimming every Tuesday 7pm-8pm, except when the aquathlon is held. It’s £5 per individual swim. The Terrace Bar and Cafe is lovely for relaxing after a swim and the changing facilities are the best of the venues I’ve visited.
London Royal Docks, London
Using the same body of water as the London Triathlon, the Royal Docks offer a 400, 750m or 1500m swim course. It’s necessary to buy an NOWCA wristband before your first swim at a cost of £10, then it is £8 per swim afterwards. The docks are open every day except Tuesday. Be aware there are no showers and the changing facilities are limited. If I worked in London, this would be an ideal venue to swim after a day at the office.
I’m also keen to try out the West Reservoir in Stoke Newington, London but haven’t managed to get there this season.
Do you have any favourite open-water swimming venues?