The Outdoor Swimmer’s Code

Kate Rew

How swimmers can respect surroundings and others they come across when exploring rivers, lakes, ponds and seas.

Consideration for others

  • Be considerate of your effect on other water users such as fishermen/women, boaters, nesting birds. Be courteous to them and be courteous of their rights.
  • Be as quiet as possible so as not to spoil the enjoyment of others.
  • Keep a good distance from anglers and avoid their lines. Leave them ample room to cast. Pass by quickly and quietly, creating as little disturbance as possible and do not loiter in fishing pools.
  • Encourage others to participate. Do not force them.
  • Be considerate about skinny-dipping.

Personal safety

  • You are responsible for your own safety. Respect the safety of others and swim responsibly at all times.
  • Plan ahead, obtain local knowledge if possible and follow any signs.
  • Check the weather beforehand and don’t be afraid to abandon your swim if adverse conditions arise.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.
  • Except in an emergency, launch or land only at recognised access places.
  • Always swim with someone.
  • Be honest about your abilities and understand your limitations.

Look after your environment

  • Protect nature and look after the environment you are using, especially around areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Do not disturb wildlife.
  • Keep clear of gravel shoals and islands during the spring when birds may be nesting.
  • Keep clear of nesting birds, areas important for fish breeding and spawning and salient otter sites.
  • Do not pick up, uproot, or trample wild plants and trees.
  • Do not remove rocks or wilfully change or disturb land features.
  • Be mindful of bankside vegetation.
  • Take care not to disturb waterweed and gravel beds.
  • Leave no trace. Take all litter with you.

Local conditions, law and order

  • Leave gates and property as you find them.
  • Park considerately and walk to swimming locations. Be aware of neighbouring residential areas and ensure there is still local and emergency service access.
  • Do not trespass on private banks.
  • Use recognized paths where possible.
  • Keep dogs under close control at all times and on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July as per the Countryside Code.
  • Comply with any byelaws.
  • Leave the water if requested to do so by an Environment Agency Officer. Such a request will only be made where there is a real risk of disturbance.

Finally…

  • Enjoy the privilege of outdoor swimming!

Anna Morrell