The Swim Safe Code

Many people and water craft use the lakes in the Lake District, swimmers can potentially be sharing the waters with divers, skiers, speed boats, ferries, sailing boats, fishermen, canoes and hire boats. To help everyone enjoy themselves and stay safe in the Lake District the national park introduced some guidelines – the Lake District swim safe code.

#1 Be Seen, have support

Hat, Float, Flag, Boat!

•Wear a bright swim cap and tow a bright float so you are more obvious to other lake users.
Remember you may be able to see the boaters, but they may not be able to see you.

•Never swim alone. As a minimum have a safety spotter on the shore.

•Show other lake users that there is a swimmer in the water by displaying an Alpha flag on your boat.

•Have a safety boat if going out into open water, they can help you if you start to struggle and boaters will see your safety boat well before they see you.

#2 Be Water wise

Temperature, Depth, Quality

•Enter the water slowly to get used to it. The water temperature is colder lower down below the surface and can still be very cold on a hot day.

•Exposure to cool water can unexpectedly and rapidly lead to hypothermia. We strongly recommend you wear a wetsuit, to keep you warmer and more buoyant.

•Don’t jump in. Jumping into shallow water can cause serious injuries, always check the depth and the water bed by walking in with caution.

•Check water quality through local sources and the Environment Agency. If the quality appears deficient in any way, don’t swim. If blue green algae is found during the summer months do not swim in these areas. Look out for signs which usually alert you to the presence of  blue-green algae.

#3 Be Informed

Know the dangers, reduce the risk

•Remember Windermere, Coniston Water, Derwentwater, and Ullswater are busy with lots of different boats on them. The other lakes in the National Park do not permit them so are much quieter.

•People on boats may struggle to see you. They may have restrictions in visibility due to weather, water conditions and their task of managing the vessel.

•A collision with any boat could be fatal.

•Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Let them know when you return so they know that you are safe and well.

•Stay aware of your surroundings.

#4 Be Mindful

Where? When?

•Check maps, guides and access info and choose one of the quieter lakes that do not allow boats.

•Avoid mooring areas, marinas and jetties used by boats, ferry routes and boating channels. Choose suitable entry and exit points.

•Be aware boaters may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.

•Only swim when weather conditions are suitable and remember they can change quickly so check the forecast. Wind chill, strength and air temperature can massively reduce your normal level of ability.

•Never swim after drinking alcohol or eating a heavy meal.

In an emergency

Call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

The Lake District Swim Safe code is a voluntary code to help keep all water users safe. Remember swimmers and boaters can be using the lakes at any time of day or night. Happy & safe swimming.

Swim the Lakes, the Lake Districts open water swimming specialists are based in Ambleside at the top of Lake windermere, come and pick up a swim tow float or bright swim cap .

Now you’re ready to swim you’ll need some suggestions for where to swim in the Lake District and a list of Lakes you’re allowed to swim in.