In Scotland swimmers have a right to swim as part of their right to responsible access, which means they can swim freely in open spaces. The law about swimming outdoors is more restrictive and often disputed in England and Wales. However, there are many places with a legal right of access to swim, many more where there are very strong arguments that the right exists, and numerous places where swimming is accepted.
With the rising popularity of outdoor swimming and the importance of outdoor swimming being open to all, campaigns for clear rights on where people can swim and to enable swimmers to access more swim spots responsibly are more important than ever, and need the support of swimmers.
Add your voice to the movement for better access to places to swim responsibly.
The OSS encourages responsible swimming, which involves respecting the environment, being considerate of other users and communities near where we swim or visit, and taking personal responsibility for safety, as outlined in the OSS Outdoor Swimmers Code.
With growing popularity, outdoor swimming is becoming more normalised. With wider recognition of the benefits of swimming for individuals and society, more landowners and authorities are beginning to see the benefits of better inland access, and to see that swimming is usually done responsibly with care for the environment. However, there have been temporary setbacks and closures prompted by some of the impacts of rising numbers at swim spots, and there is still much work to do.
The problem with unclear legal rights to enter and swim in the water is that swimmers might not have the confidence to assert their rights, and most would prefer not to face potential hassle, as one swimmer explains, in Breaking The Law To Swim. So swimmers can benefit from better access.
How to get involved: