Bantham Swoosh

Saturday 24th June 2017 6km

Enter Bantham Swoosh

Now in its third year, the Swoosh is a world class 6km swim in a sandy bottomed estuary in Devon. Among the things that make it special is the fact the estuary we swim in is both shallow and sandy bottomed – so water is clear rather than muddy, and swimmers have a view of the sandy bed most of the way. The swim culminates in a “swoosh” as the ebbing tide is funnelled through a narrow section of river, speeding you along over the riverbed at up to four times your usual swimming speed. It can run at 8 knots. It’s exciting, invigorating, beautiful and fun.

The Bantham Swoosh 2017 will take place on Saturday 24th June. Swimmers can chose a Dawn or Dusk swim. Dawn swimmers are invited to join us on Bantham Ham to watch the sun rise at 4.30am, before swimming back to the beach for breakfast and a day on the sands.

Dusk swimmers will swim in to the twighlight and land back on Bantham Beach as the sun sets.

As of 21.4.17 there are a limited number of charity places remaining with a minimum fundraising commitment.

© Anna Barclay

The Swoosh is a very low key event with minimal event infrastructure, all the better to enjoy ending the swim on one of the Devon’s finest family surfing beaches, with picnics, family and friends. From the beach there are views of Bigbury Beach and Burgh Island, and at low tide there are miles of rock pools. The swim takes you from a narrow inland Devon river, surrounded by hills, into a different landscape on the edge of the sea.


We recommend that swimmers are able to swim 5km confidently. There’s a gentle pull on the estuary which  makes life easier, but a bad weather day (chop or a headwind) can counteract that, so come prepared.

A key test of the swim for most swimmers is the water temperature – in 2017 the swim is early in the season, so while water temperature is not the dissimilar to the end of season (12-15 degrees is expected), most swimmers aren’t so well acclimatised. Getting out in open water in May & June before the event is the way to prepare for this. The morning swim will be a few degrees colder than the evening swim; the estuary warms up over the day.

Please note – the swoosh occurs as the estuary narrows at the very end, you are not swooshed from start to finish! The swoosh is strongest later after high tide, meaning that the slower you swim, the more assistance you get from the swoosh. Everyone wins! This is a really approachable swim and an ideal first long outdoor event. Most swimmers take between 1.5-2 hours to complete the swim.

Vivienne Rickman Poole
Anna Barclay

Who can take part?

The minimum age for swimmers is 16. Those under 18 will need to bring someone with parental responsibility to registration with them to sign to provide parental consent.

Bantham Swoosh Dusk Dawn © Alamy

Suits & Skins

Skin swimming is a noble tradition and every year we welcome skin swimmers to OSS events. Skin swimmers do need to apply to swim in skins, with permission granted on the basis of prior proven experience of swims of this length and temperature, whether undertaken personally or as part of an event, and on the basis of current training. In granting permission to swim in skins, we are looking for evidence of similar prior experience and/or a recent monitored 90 minutes swim in similar temperature water. Please note that the morning Swoosh will be a few degrees colder than the evening Swoosh – the estuary warms up over the day.

Not all applications are permitted, and if yours is rejected you will need to swim in a wetsuit. Why? To keep you safe. Only those who have undergone a steady and committed programme of acclimatisation will be able to do a swim of this length in skins. Because safety cover is shared, rather than one to one, the Swoosh is not the place to test out your endurance to cold for the first time.

Please note that non-wetsuit permission cannot be guaranteed at entry because it depends on current training. Tickets are therefore sold as “wetsuits compulsory” in February,  with non-wetsuit application forms returned before the event. We then consider your application within ten days and communicate our decision back to applicants.

If you are not given permission you will need to swim in a wetsuit or transfer your ticket to another swimmer in a week-long window before the event. If you do not have your wetsuit on or permission for a skin-swim granted in advance, you will not be able to swim.


We welcome and can accommodate swimmers with disabilities, however the geography of this event – a sandy beach finish and steps on the headland – may mean wheelchair users do a slightly truncated swim, getting out at the Bantham Boathouse which is regrettably before the Swoosh. Feel free to talk to us about your needs – swimmers with physical disabilities who would like to swim should email the event manager ideally prior to registration, and will be accommodated within the existing water safety provision wherever possible (no separate arrangements can be made).

It is essential that those with disabilities or any concern about their ability to take part in this event should seek their doctor’s advice before taking part and declare anything which the lifeguards would need to be aware of on their swimmer disclaimer form.




No tow floats or fins

OSS events are tow-float free. We have ample safety cover who watch swimmers via their brightly coloured hats. Tow floats makes sighting swimmers harder, by doubling the number of brightly coloured objects in the water, and may entangle other swimmers.

It is sometimes stated that tow floats make retrieving an unconscious swimmer easier, however they are not tested or rated to act as a safety device in this way.

Snorkels and fins are not permitted as the hard edges risk injuring other swimmers at the swim start in particular.

Most swimmers with personal medication tuck it up the sleeve of their wetsuit. If this doesn’t cover your needs and you want to use a tow float for the purpose please contact the event manager.

Details and Event timings

The end of the swim (where parking, spectating and registration are also found!) is Bantham Beach near TQ7 3AN (Google map, or printable map) . Please do NOT rely on Sat-Nav to reach the event.

Dawn swimmers are invited to come and watch the sun rise with us from Bantham Ham from 4.30am. (Not obligatory, we are posting registrations packs to all dawn swimmers for a quicker registration on the day, so you can eek out those final moments in bed). You will board coaches upriver from 5.50am and enter the water at 7am. Swimmers will arrive back on Bantham Beach for breakfast with friends between 8-9.30am.

Dusk swimmers should arrive at Bantham from 4.30pm, in plenty of time to board coaches by 6.10pm. You’ll be back at Bantham after your swim between 8.25-9.55pm, and the estate closes at 10.30pm. Note that dusk swimmers are likely to have finished their swim after the pubs have stopped serving food. You can pre-book a Warrens Bakery pasty and pint of cider from Hunts or ale from Salcombe Brewery to collect at the finish line – select a Pasty & a Pint Ticket (£6.50) when you purchase your Swoosh tickets online.

Tickets are transferable (until 12th May) but non-refundable

After the statutory 14 day cooling off period, your ticket is yours to keep. Places cannot be exchanged, refunded or deferred for any reason, including injury, medical issues or factors outside of your control. You can transfer your ticket on payment of a fee to another OSS member during a transfer window that closes on 12 May (It’s free to become an OSS member) after which transfers are also not permitted.

Please note that should the event be cancelled due to extreme conditions which include (but are not limited to) high winds and heavy rain impeding the view of the swimmers by the safety cover on the day, or unexpected pollution in the water, no refunds will be given. Taking out event insurance that would allow refunds or a replacement event in this unlikely situation would add significantly to the ticket price and the view has been taken that it is better to have a lower ticket price and small risk. Please see our Event Terms for more information.

Insurance against extreme weather cancellation is available separately

For example from . Please note this is a totally separate organisation from the OSS and you can chose to buy insurance against the possibility of the event being cancelled due to extreme weather from this or any other company. Alternatively you can accept the small risk of not getting a refund in the case of event cancellation.


Our events are run, on the land, by a small army of volunteers. If you or your supporters would like to join the #OSSteam for the day or the weekend, please read this Bantham Swoosh volunteering factsheet and email Volunteer team members get a discount on their swim entry; access to early-bird tickets in future years, and make this swim possible for others.

Support Great Causes

Swimmers are free to raise money for any charity (or none), however the following organisations support the event and would be particularly worthy recipients of your fundraising.


Download the ‘3-months-to-go’ swimmers info email here.

You can ask (and answer) general questions with other swimmers at the Facebook event.

We publish answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

To make minor changes to your personal details, use the Updates Form:

If you have questions not answered above, need to make a complex change, or (for a fee, only possible until 12 May) want to transfer your place to another swimmer then you can contact Whilst we attempt to dedicate one day in each week (not necessarily the same day) to answering enquiries, it may take a while to get back to you.

A special thanks to all our partners: Alpkit, Bantham Estates, Aveton Gifford Community Pool, Swimcap, Clif Bars and Clipper (who we have to thank for the delicious hot chocolate at the finish). Your support is much appreciated.


Enter Bantham Swoosh