Bristol Penguin Olympic Swimming Club

Open Water Swimming

Sign up here for 2023

Click here to sign up. 

Summer 2023 is on its way, so it must be open water season! Bristol Penguins are running open water sessions again this year. The sessions are open to all Swim England affiliated members who are at least ‘club’ level swimmers. Entry level is for swimmers at around Stage 9 of the National Plan for Teaching Swimming who are at least 10 years old. Sessions are for those who are new to open water as well as those who have previously swam in open water settings.



Once again, we will be using the beautiful clear waters at Cromhall (GL12 8AA) – located in the South Gloucestershire countryside about a 25-minute drive from Bristol. Sessions will take place on Sundays (weekly) from 21st MayThe goal of our open water swimming programme is for swimmers to develop their open water skills and confidence, to enjoy the experience and (for some) to use the sessions to help prepare for open water competitions. There will be three groups: -

● Senior Performance - 13 years +. 10 to 11am. For capable and experienced open water swimmers who are preparing for open water competitions such as regional and national swimming championships. Exceptional 12 year old swimmers may apply to join this group. Swimmers will join this group by way of a try out session.
● Seniors - 13 years +. 11.10 to 12pm. For those swimmers new to open water swimming and for those who wish to take part in open water swimming in a less competitive way.

● Juniors – 10 to 12 years. 12.10 to 12.55pm. For those new or relatively new to open water swimming.

Sessions are £13 per swimmer which covers the cost to swim at Cromhall, Penguin coaching and lifeguarding. Sessions will be led by open water swimming coach
John Ferguson. We will make use of our headsets so John can talk directly to swimmers in the open water.

Introductory Indoor Skills Sessions for Open Water Swimming

Hengrove Leisure Centre – select either Sunday 28th May or Sunday 11th June.
Class based session 3.00pm to 3.45pm and swim from 4.00pm to 5pm. Indoor Skills sessions are £10.

It is highly recommended that anyone new to open water swimming takes part in one of our indoor introduction to open water swimming sessions. The session includes a 45 minute class based session about open water swimming, how to stay safe when swimming in open water, information about wetsuits and a chance for parents and swimmers to ask any questions. This is followed by an hour long pool session where swimmers can learn some open water skills to help support them with forthcoming open water sessions.

Open Water Sessions at Cromhall (all Sundays) Juniors start on 11th June 23.

21st May, 28th May, 4th June, 11th June, 18th June, 2nd July, 9th July, 16th July, 23rd July, 20th August, 27th August, 3rd Sept, 10th Sept, 17th Sept, *1st October, 8th October & *15th October

*Sun 1st Oct- Bristol Penguins Open Water Swimming Champs. *15th Oct - session on cold water swimming.

By completing the form, please accept this as confirmation of your place. In the event of oversubscription, places will be allocated first come first serve. We will send a reminder email about each session 1-2 weeks before.

Sign up / Payments / Conditions

Sessions are £13 per swimmer. Sign up (see link and QR Code at top of page).

Bristol Penguin Members you will be billed this separately from club fees via TeamUnify. Do not pay by BACS.

In order to cancel a session and receive a refund, a minimum 14 days’ notice is required. Payments are non-refundable if fewer than 14 days’ notice is given. Swimmers may sign up for one, multiple or all sessions. You are encouraged to sign up in one go but you may complete the form more than once. E.g. sign up for some sessions early in the season and then more at a later date. You must sign up for any session at least two weeks in advance. Swimmers are not required to join Bristol Penguins to attend any of the sessions provided they have permission from their head coach. If head coach permission is not forthcoming, swimmers can still join the sessions and can be insured by joining Bristol Penguins (home club membership unaffected). To be insured for the sessions, their club must register swimmers with Swim England as an open water swimmer. Swimmers will not be able to join in sessions if they are not registered as open water swimmers and no refunds will be provided. Swimmers who are not currently Swim England registered may join the sessions but will be required to join Bristol Penguins to become Swim England affiliated. This will cost £16 and is subject to a further £20 if the swimmer wishes to then take part in competitions.

Non Bristol Penguin Members - please complete the following contacts and medical information form.


Use of wetsuits / temperature of water

We expect the water temperatures in May to be around 13 to 15 degrees with temperatures reaching around 20 oC during high summer. Swim England rules / guidance around wetsuits is based around water temperatures are as follows: -

  • ●  20oC and above – no wetsuit.

  • ●  18-19.9 oC – choose to wear a wetsuit or not. 16 to 17.9 oC – wetsuits are compulsory.

  • ●  Temperatures below 15.9 oC – we will risk assess if swimming can take place.

Swimmers will need a wetsuit for the outdoor sessions. Bristol Penguins have a small collection of wetsuits available for those who wish to borrow one (free of charge). Alternatively, wetsuits can be purchased or hired from a range of suppliers. For example: or

Other items to bring

For the outdoor sessions, swimmers should wear a swimming hat and swimmers should not wear watches or jewellery. Swimmers need to bring their swimming stuff, a warm change of clothes, two towels, drink and snack. Trainers or flip flops are needed to put on to wear before and after swimming. Swimmers may want to wear ear plugs and have an anti-chafe product – e.g. Vaseline.

Helpers needed

We ask parents to be in attendance for the outdoor sessions. For each session, we need some volunteers to assist with being a spotter. If you can help, please indicate this when completing the google form.

Competitions / Other Opportunities

  • ●  Swim England SW Open Water Championships. Sat 25th June. Lake 86 near Cirencester*

  • ●  Swim England National Open Water Age Group Champs. Sat 29th July. Thrybergh, Rotherham*

  • ●  Sat 9th Sept – Cotswold Big Swim. Lake 32 near Cirencester (see link above)

  • ●  Sun 24th Sept - Exmoor Open Water Swim 2023 Age 16+ only

  • ●  Sun 1st October – Bristol Penguin Open Water Championships. Cromhall – details to follow.

  • ●  Sun 15th October – specific session on cold water swimming – details to follow.

​If sign up is direct, please let us know you have entered. *Awaiting more information from organisers.

Queries Please email Bristol Penguin Open Water Coordinator Claire Ferguson – [email protected]