Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question about booking a swim and how things work on one of my swim sessions, or just wild swimming in general, the answer should be here. If not, please email me and I will be happy to answer your query.
How do I book?
Please email me to book one-to-one and private swims. For all group swims please register on the event page and you will receive details by email.
Group swims are currently on hold and will be back in early summer 2021.
How do I pay?
You can pay by bank transfer, PayPal, or by card. These details will be emailed to you when you have booked in.
Can I bring my partner/kids/dog to watch?
A friend, partner or relative is welcome to come along to watch providing they won’t be a distraction to you. Dogs are also welcome with someone to look after them whilst you swim. Children can come along with another adult with them to supervise them. I prefer people not to bring children as even the best behaved kids can be a distraction. It is important that you are able to fully concentrate on your swim, and have some time for yourself.
Do I need to be a strong swimmer?
That depends what you want to achieve. If you are coming to a beginner session I will be teaching you the basics of swimming outdoors, not asking you to swim the length of a lake. For more advanced sessions you should be able to make steady forward progress without feeling overly tired for at least 500m.
My swims are relaxed leisure swims. We are not swimming for winning times or over long distances. I set up the business as a direct result of swimmers feeling excluded from open water because they were not a triathlete, they did not want to swim round a course, get togged up head-to-toe in neoprene, or swim crawl. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these types of swimmer. But if you are looking for a leisurely amble, you have come to the right place.
I’m just a dipper, can I come too?
You are never “just” anything. Dippers, swimmers, wallowers etc are all welcome. Check the type of swim you are interested in before you book; some are exclusively for dippers whilst others you will need to be able to swim a certain distance. If you are a dipper who would like to increase the length of their dips and go for longer swims, this can be done as a one-to-one session or with my intermediate sessions.
Do you need to swim crawl? I can only swim head-up breaststroke.
I do not entertain the idea that breaststroke is a lesser stroke and actively promote it as one of the best ways to swim outdoors. I have a gold medal in breaststroke, and I have swum the length of six lakes doing breaststroke. My swims are designed to be welcoming to all swimmers with an emphasis on breaststroke being the best stroke!
How far should I be able to swim?
For a beginner session, you should be able to swim 50m without stopping.
For other sessions such as intermediate group swims the distance required will be advertised. None of my swims are further than one mile.
If you are not sure how far you can swim, go to your local pool and see how many lengths you can swim before you feel the need to stop and rest, and see how far you can swim overall during your session.
If you have any concerns about your ability to take part in a certain swim, please contact me before booking in.
I’m worried I will be at the back. What if I am too slow?
The back of what? It’s not a race! My swims are inclusive and often there is no set distance so you swim as much or as little as you want. On group swims where we swim down a river or over a set distance there will inevitably be people swimming at different paces. And so what? The slower you swim, the longer you enjoy being in the water for!
Is it cold?
Mostly, yes But don’t let that put you off. UK waters range from pleasant in the summer months to perishing in winter.
I can’t tell you what the temperature on any given day will be because I don’t take it. Unless you have prior experience of submerging your body at certain temperatures, then telling you a water temperature is largely pointless, especially with no other information such as wind speed and air temperature.
Instead I look at the overall conditions, the “feels like” temperature, your ability and your body type. Most people cope better with cold water than they expect to, and if you have a particular health condition that means you get cold quickly I can provide thermal swim accessories to help.
What if the weather is bad, do we still swim?
What kit do I need?
The kit required differs depending on what swim you have booked and a kit list will be emailed to you when you book in. Wetsuits are provided in my beginner sessions so as long as you have a swimsuit you should not have to buy anything especially to take part. For all other swims wetsuits can be hired. If you have forgotten anything I usually have a supply of caps, swim gloves, tow floats etc in my van. There is nothing in my hire equipment that I wouldn’t wear myself. You can expect high quality Blue Seventy wetsuits, C-Skins socks and gloves, Zone 3 thermal wear, Swim Secure tow floats etc.
Are wetsuits mandatory?
Not always. If you are new to open water then it’s a good idea to start off in a wetsuit, You can always take it off later and continue to swim; it doesn’t work if you do it the other way round.
How do I know what size wetsuit I need?
Wetsuits are not sized like your regular clothes so if you tell me you are a size 12/14 this means nothing in wetsuit terms. I will need your height and accurate weight, plus any other relevant info such as being large chested, gifted in the behind, or you have a short body relative to your overall height. There is a wetsuit for every shape and with this kind of info I can make sure you have the right one for your session.
If you want to buy your own wetsuit, I recommend getting in touch with Swim the Lakes who are based in Ambleside and offer a bespoke fitting service and a nice cup of tea.
I’m carrying a few extra pounds, will you have a wetsuit to fit me?
I have wetsuits to fit swimmers up to 21 stone.
Do I need goggles?
It’s always a good idea to bring goggles so you can see what you are swimming over; there might be rocks or branches in the water that we need to keep an eye out for. If you wear contacts you should wear goggles to protect your lenses and bring your glasses as a back up for when we leave the water.
I am scared of putting my face in. Do I have to?
I'm scared of putting my face in sometimes! Most outdoor swimmers are scared of something whether they admit it or not. There is no law that says you have to put your face in and a lot of my swims are breaststroke and head-up breaststroke. But you should remember, there is nothing scary underwater. No monsters! If you want to face your fear, I can help you with that. If it is a severe affliction it might be best for you to book a one-to-one session so you don’t need to worry about other swimmers.
Can I start swimming in skins straight away?
It’s easier if you start in the warmer months but not impossible at other times of year. For beginner sessions I nearly always start you off in a wetsuit so you can find your feet, staying warm and buoyant. There is always an option to take your suit off towards the end of the session and try swimming without. If you are currently swim in a wetsuit and would like to make the transition to skins, I can help with this - group and 1:1 sessions are available all year round.
What does ‘skins’ mean?
In open water terms, suit means wetsuit and skins means swimsuit. Weird I know but no one has come up with a better term yet!
Can you train me to be a cold water swimmer?
Yes I can! Swimming in winter is one of my specialty areas and I run group sessions between November and March. You can also book a one-to-one to have a cold water sessions tailored to your ability and experience.
I am very slim, how do I stay warm?
People with a low percentage of body fat will feel colder quicker and may find they can’t spend as long in the water as they would like. I can provide thermal accessories such as neoprene vests, thermal swim socks and gloves, and neoprene caps to name a few.
Why should I hire a guide? Wild swimming is free isn’t it?
Wild swimming is free and I don’t believe you need always need a guide. However if you are just starting out it’s a good idea to learn from an expert before plunging in. As a swim guide I am qualified to look after you in and around the water, manage your safety, and provide emergency assistance if required. I have researched many locations to walk and swim. I know all the best places!
First time wild swimmers might feel nervous joining a group for their first swim and as a guide I can help you build your confidence and offer hire equipment.
If you have done a bit of wild swimming before I can tailor an experience to your ability, help you push your boundaries, and explore hidden areas of the Lakes.
How long are the walks?
For most beginner sessions the walk is around 10 to 15 minutes. A short walk helps us warm up and prepare for your swim. If you need a shorter distance this can be arranged. On other sessions like swim hikes we might walk for 3-4 hours over the course of the day with time built in for swims, snacks and a picnic lunch. I plan the walk so that it compliments the swim, and is not too strenuous. All walk distances and difficulties are advertised in the walk description. If you have any concerns, please contact me before booking.
How do you know where to get in?
All the locations I take swimmers to are places I have risk assessed them in all seasons so I know what state they will be in all conditions.
Is there anything dangerous in the water?
It’s quite reasonable to have a fear of the unknown - stepping into open water is quite literally a step into the unknown. But there is nothing to be really scared of. Currents are barely noticeable in a lake but care should be taken in rivers. Fish will dart away at the first glance of a swimmer and, despite many myths about pike, there are no recorded cases of fish attacking swimmers in the UK. The main danger is other water users, pleasure boats, and litter in the shallows. One of the many reasons for hiring a swim guide is to help you navigate the risk and behave accordingly.
Will I get Weil’s Disease?
Fewer than 100 cases of Weil’s Disease are recorded in the UK each year. The risk is low but it’s important to be prepared. Avoid ingesting a lot of water especially in areas around farmland. Make sure cuts or broken skin is covered before entering the water, then clean the area and apply a fresh dressing after your swim.
Is cake provided?
Yes! Or a pie. A hot drink and a slice of something tasty is included on all one-to-one and private sessions. Post-swim refreshment is an important part of the experience. I will ask you for your preference at the time of booking. I make the tray bakes myself, and buy pies on the day so if you are planning to bring your own please let me know to save wastage. On some group experiences we might go to a cafe or pub, or take a packed lunch. The refreshment requirement will be stated on all experiences so you know what to bring.
Can you recommend somewhere for me to stay?
Click on this link to view a list of accommodation in the areas I work in. Please note these suggestions are based on proximity to my swim locations and recommendation by my customers who have stayed there. I have not stayed in any of these places myself.
Can you teach me to swim?
No, I am not a swimming teacher. My sessions are for people who can already swim. If you have a specific issue such as building confidence swimming out of your depth or fear putting your face in, I can help with this. If you have concerns about your swimming ability please check with me before you book in.
Can my children come for a swim?
Unfortunately I am not qualified or insured to take under 18s swimming. I can recommend Colin Hill who is based at Another Place on Ullswater who caters for child-friendly swims and splashes.
I’m coming to the Lakes for a holiday, can you tell me some good places to swim?
Absolutely! Click this link to find out more.
Would you consider being an ambassador for our brand?
I am happy to consider ambassador opportunities providing they align with my personality and values. Enquiries from purveyors of fine pies are welcome to get in touch. Promoters of supplements and “health food” bars, gels and drinks can get in the bin.
I have sent you an email, I hope you are well?
When I was learning conversational Polish, my teacher explained there was no direct translation for “how are you?” because it was considered a very personal question that most Poles would not be prepared to answer in a casual conversation or as a greeting.
Please take this as permission to never use “I hope you are well” ever again.
Can we call you Suzy?
What about Sue?
Can we meet Rosie?
Rosie has retired from guiding now so you won't get to meet her on a swim, but you can follow her on instagram which is probably safer for all concerned.