The Bantham Swoosh

A world class 6km swim in a sandy bottomed estuary in Devon

Tim Bridges
  • Enter The Bantham Swoosh
  • 6th July 2019

    Now in its fifth 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 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. 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 water at dawn will be a few degrees colder than the average for the time of year; 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.

    Graham Wynne

    Who can take part?

    The minimum age for full distance Swooshers is 16. Those under 18 will need someone with parental responsibility to sign to provide parental consent.

    Mini Swoosh for Children

    The Mini Swoosh is for all the supporting children keen to get in the water! Children aged between 6 and 16 years are invited to swim the final 500-600m of the course – the ‘swoosh’ – with an adult they know and trust (parent or friend). The Mini Swoosh will take place from the Bantham finish line after their adult has finished their full-distance swoosh event. Children (accompanied by their adult) will hop on a lifeguard’s powerboat or jet ski for a tow upriver, and swim (or float!) back through the Swoosh section of a few hundred metres back to the finish line.

    What they need to enter:

    • A responsible adult who is part of the event, and prepared to get back in the water to accompany them (one child, one adult). The mini Swoosh will take place after the main event has finished, so there is likely to be a wait between your swim finish and their swim entry. Adults may swim the mini Swoosh skins without special permission (so if you want to get out of your wetsuit, warm up and get dressed, then get back in in something else, you are welcome). If you have two children, you can take them both, just one at a time. 

    • A wetsuit (shortie or longer)

    • To be a competent swimmer, with some experience of swimming in moving and unheated water. We want to encourage the next generation so ask you to be cautious: the Swoosh will be fast by the time they enter and moving cold water is instinctively alarming to children without any experience of a current, or sea temperatures. If they’re not ready this year, there is plenty of time.

    • Flotation aids are welcome – life jackets, buoyancy aids, and other aids are suitable for less experienced open water junior swimmers.

    All children entered will receive a Swoosh Tshirt and a huge round of applause at the finish line!


    Suits & Skins

    The Bantham Swoosh is a wetsuit event, and tickets are sold on the basis that you must wear a full length  (“shoulder-to-ankle neoprene”) swimming or triathlon wetsuit.

    Skin swimming is a noble tradition and every year we do welcome skin swimmers to OSS events though. Skin swimmers were asked to apply for skin-swimming permission immediately after registering. The deadline to send in your skin swimming application is 15 May. No reminders are sent, put the date in your diary.

    On the day of the event, if you do not already have written skin swimming permission from the events team, then you will only be allowed to swim in a long john or longer (“shoulder-to-ankle neoprene”) swimming or triathlon wetsuit.

    If you are not happy to swim in a wetsuit and don’t already have written permission for a skin swim from the events team, your only option is transfer your ticket to another swimmer in the transfer window that runs from the day tickets sell out or until 15 May. If tickets do not sell out, there will not be the possibility to transfer. If you do not have your wetsuit on or permission for a skin-swim granted in advance, you will not be able to swim.


    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.


    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  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.


    Unwanted tickets and refund requests

    All tickets are sold on a strict “no refunds” basis, this is clearly outlined at all stages of the registration process. If you are no longer able to take part, your only option is to transfer to a friend, during a transfer window that will run from the day tickets sell out until 15 May. If tickets do not sell out, no transfers will be offered.

    Please see event FAQs for details of how to arrange a transfer of your ticket to a friend – deadline 15 May.

    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 worth considering, for example your travel insurance may cover you. (Check your small print!) Alternatively you can accept the small risk of not getting a refund in the case of event cancellation.

    Volunteer on the OSS team

    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 a future 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). Our primary charity partner is Level Water.


    Image result for Level Water logo

    Level Water provides one-to-one swimming lessons for children with disabilities.  Without their one-to-one swimming lessons, most of these children will never learn to swim. Level Water have half-price entries available now for the Bantham Swoosh with a fundraising commitment. Please contact Colette at Level Water for more information.

    Level Water is our primary partner charity.

    The event is also happy to secondarily support these local charities:


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


    If you have a swim entry for a coach transfer before your swim you have the option to camp the Friday night before your swim at Bantham Beach. This is offered by the Bantham Estate. No booking is required, and camping fees should be paid directly to the Bantham Estate on arrival. Camping at Bantham Beach is not possible if you have a ticket for coach transfer upriver after your swim.

    Bantham Estate is open for swimmers and spectators to camp over on Friday night with arrivals welcome from 3pm, last arrivals at 9pm. A camping field is provided for tents, whilst an area of the carpark will be reserved for campervans. Camping at the estate (available Friday night only) is charged at £15 per adult, £5 per child (car park fees wont apply), please bring cash only to pay on arrival. Please note only basic facilities are provided (toilets and standpipes), caravans aren’t permitted due to access issues, and card payments aren’t accepted.

    Higher Aunemouth camping is an extremely basic eco campsite at TQ7 3AD and popular with swimmers.

    Alternatively, contact Kingsbridge Tourist Information Centre at The Quay Kingsbridge, TQ7 1HS. Tel: 01548 853195.


    Tickets for 2019 will be released on 13 November 2018

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

    We publish answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

    Almost all swimmer questions have already been asked (and answered) through the links above, but our email address (for brand new enquiries specific to your personal registration) is



    A huge thank you for the continued support of our sponsors:

    Our primary sponsor is Alpkit, who produce outdoor clothing for people to go nice places and do good things.

    Every swimmer, runner and run-swimmer receives a clifbar at registration.

    We’re pleased to welcome Swimtrek to our community in 2019!





    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 (£7) when you purchase your Swoosh tickets online.

    Ticket types

    Please click “enter now” button below to see info on available ticket types.

    Enter The Bantham Swoosh