Open Water Swimming – Winter 2023/2024

Our 2023/2024 winter swim season is now open for sessions.

These will follow on immediately after the last summer session, with the first “Winter” session being on Saturday 7th October 2023, between 09:00 to 10:00 (times may change to 11:00-12:00 from November onwards – look carefully at each session sign up page to confirm the time).

For the first few sessions there will be little difference in water temperature to the “summer” swims, and the usual 400m course will remain in use. Each week the water will gradually become colder, so these sessions give all the perfect opportunity to acclimatise to the cold: Each week that you get in, you may notice it is slightly cooler than the last week, but as you will have been swimming regularly, you will cope with it easily – Hey presto – you are acclimatised to the cold water. Once the water temp drops below around 12 degrees C we will use the shorter diamond course.

These sessions will follow the same procedures as the summer swims (as detailed below), with some subtle differences.

  1. We encourage members to join these sessions to benefit from the physical and mental health benefits that cold water swimming delivers. We request that attendees must be able to swim competently (minimum 100m) and we recommend that attendees have been regularly swimming throughout the Autumn and winter so that they are acclimatised to cold water.
  2. The 75m triangle will be available to swim around in an anti-clockwise direction,
  3. Beyond the triangle there will be an additional single bouy further into the lake, making a diamond course of approximately 150m for one loop, for those who want to swim a bit further.
  4. There will be a “dippers area” to the left of the 75m loop as you look from the deck across the lake, for people who just want to dip rather than swim.
  5. There will be the option of using the black ramp situated on the left hand side of the lake (as you look from the deck across the lake) for access and egress to the lake, to allow slower acclimatisation and easier egress from the water. If you use the ramp make sure you take your towel and dry gear to the ramp and leave them close to the waters edge – so you can dry and warm yourself as soon as you are out.
  6. Those who want to access or egress from the deck as normal still can, but be wary that this will be more difficult because of the cold (and the deeper water in Winter).
  7. The coloured swim cap system will remain as for the summer swims with the additional category of “warm hat” (bobble hat, wooly hat, etc), so please bring an appropriate coloured cap or hat as appropriate (there will be some swim caps available to borrow or buy), but ‘dippers’ must bring their own warm hat;
  • Red = Wetsuit
  • Purple = Novice
  • Green = Skins
  • Warm hat (bobble hat etc) = Dipper (will not immerse the head and will keep in the dippers area only)

NOTE: If you wish to go around the course you must have the appropriate coloured swim cap on, dippers in wooly hats should not be on the course (request of WA OEC staff).

8. In the event that the Great Broad is unavailable, we may use the Little Broad. In this instance we will still change on the deck, there will be a short walk to the Little Broad entrance where the registration desk will take your card and exchange for a band. Please bring suitable footwear (swim socks, sliders, etc) for the short walk, and warm clothes for after, these may be left with registration. After the swim return to the centre to warm up, change and have a hot drink and biccies.

Minimum kit = swim costume, appropriate coloured swim cap (or woolly hat for dippers), foot covering for the walk to the ramp (such as swim socks, flip flops, crocs, etc). Do not forget your MEMBERSHIP CARD!

Suggested additional kit = second swim hat or swim hood – must be beneath appropriate coloured cap, googles, swim vest, wetsuit, swim socks or boots, gloves, ear plugs, tow float.


• Must I wear a Wetsuit? – No..!! It is entirely optional! The idea is to have a chill swim or dip that is good for you and your wellbeing. We do not require a signed form for a skins swim as we do for the summer. By signing up for this session you are agreeing to be solely responsible for your choice of swim attire and that you will be following the guidance provided by the Outdoor Swimming Society as we have provided on the sign up page.

• Will there be a course? On the Great Broad we will have the 400m course until the water temperature drops to below 8 deg C. Then a short 75m triangle course (the summer warm up course) and a slightly longer 150m diamond will be available for those that want it. If we use the Little Broad shorter courses of c.580m, 440m, 220m and 50m (dippers area) will be available.

• Can I just dip? Absolutely, but these needs to be in the designated dippers area.

• Must I wear a swim cap? If you are going around the triangle or diamond course then yes you must wear the appropriate coloured swim cap. If you are dipping you can wear a warm wooly hat but you must remain in the dippers area and you cannot go onto the triangle or diamond course without the appropriate coloured swim cap.

• Will there be kayak cover – Yes the usual Whitlingham safety cover will be in place proportionate to participants.

• Anything else? Dry and sheltered changing area available on the deck or designated male and female changing rooms with warm showers (see point xi below). There will be hot drinks, biscuits, and a warm cabin (usually Cabin No.3) for warming up afterwards.


IMPORTANT – Warm up slowly and gradually.

i. Keep your swim hat on until the point that you are immediately ready to put on your dry warm hat (this helps conserve body heat whilst you dry and dress).

ii. To minimise the risk of afterdrop, dress immediately starting with the top half of your body.

iii. Dry yourself off ASAP – remove all wet layers and pat yourself dry. When dealing with a cold person always remove all their wet things.

iv. Layer up: in thermals, wool jumpers, insulated jackets, woolly hat and gloves, long coats, dry robes are great, or an old dressing gown. Silver foil blankets do not help swimmers – unlike runners, for example, swimmers are not radiating heat post swim, so there is no escaping heat for the silver foil blanket to trap.

v. Stand on something as you change if the banks are cold to avoid losing more heat from your feet – a changing mat, or wooden bath mat.

vi. Sip a warm drink: this helps warm the body gently from the inside.

vii. Eat something: we have plenty of biscuits available, sugar will help raise body temperature (not suitable for hypothermic swimmers).

viii. Sit in a warm environment, we have cabin No.3 which will be nice and warm and cosy.

ix. If you feel okay, walk around to generate body heat. It can take some time to warm properly.

x. If you feel unwell at this stage, sit down somewhere warm and let the TA swim manager or the WA staff know.

xi. Hot baths and showers can be tricky: they may make affect blood pressure and make you feel faint and unwell. A key is to have them warm, but not hot. The showers at Whitlingham have thermostatic valves so they can be as cold as you like!

xii. We recommend that you do not drive or cycle until you have fully warmed through, which may take around 30 minutes from after you changed into dry warm clothes.

Tri-Anglia’s Risk Assessment for the winter swim sessions can be accessed here – TA Cold Water Swim Risk Assessment



We may need to change the location for the swim to the Little Broad. This is a short walk from the deck where you normally change, and you will collect your band in exchange for your card at the desk temporarily set up at the Little Broad Entrance.

Course options:

a. Dippers area around a buoyed lane approx. 25m out and 25m back.

b. Anti-clockwise course around 6 yellow buoys approx. 580m including entry out to the course and back. Note each additional lap anti-clockwise course around 6 yellow buoys approx. 440m per lap.

c. Anti-clockwise course around 4 yellow buoys approx. 380m including start to the course and back. Note each additional lap anti-clockwise course around 4 yellow buoys approx. 240m per lap


Happy cold dipping !

Paul, Kevin, Janice, Kirsty – Winter OWS managers

Open Water Swimming Information

Tri-Anglia offer open water swimming sessions for club members in Whiltingham Country Park’s Great Broad. Sessions run every Saturday morning and Wednesday evening from the first Saturday in May until the last Saturday of August and then just Saturday mornings in September.

This page outlines the normal operating procedure for the Whitlingham Adventure (WA) provided Open Water Swim Sessions for Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club to be held during 2022. This page should be used in conjunction with WA Emergency Action Plan.

2023/24 Procedures: How To Book

Book Your Slot – IMPORTANT

All swims must be pre-booked and paid for on the website. Go to the Training -> Adult Training Sessions Page then click on the green ATTEND button.

Numbers will only be limited by the kayak cover in place. At busy times swimmers may have to wait for an earlier swimmer to exit the water before they can start their swim, but we will do our best to get the numbers right.

Online bookings for the month will be opened up, before the end of the month for the next block. Once sessions are full there will be a waiting list so if you sign up and then decide to cancel you may do so without charge up to 6pm the night before your swim. Keep your eyes on your Junk/spam email inbox as a lot of our automated waiting list confirmations are going to spam!

I will always aim to post on the club Facebook page when sessions are open to book.

Strictly no members to turn up to a session without booking.

Session Costs & Payment

Each swim costs £6 and the payment will be initiated following members booking up for a swim. Payment for sessions will be automatically taken via GoCardless Direct Debit. You will be notified by email that a payment will be attempted. Please ensure you have set up your GoCardless Direct Debit payment for training sessions. You can check to see if you have a valid Direct Debit set up by going to your Session Payments page.

2023/24 Procedures: What To Do On Arrival

Location and Parking

The swim starts from Whitlingham Adventure (WA), Trowse, Norwich, NR14 8TR, which is the series of cabins under the large white canopy at the end of the largest Broad.

Members who drive to Whitlingham are encouraged to park in the Whitlingham Country Park car parks rather than on Whitlingham Lane. In fact parking on Whitlingham Lane within the park will incur a fine and parking elsewhere on Whitlingham Lane leads to congestion. Tri-Anglia members are able to buy a year’s cark parking at a discounted rate, application forms from RCP Parking Ltd, 15 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DZ, or any enquires to cp@rcpparking.com. You must be able to show proof of current membership.

For more information: Parking (whitlinghamcountrypark.com)


 Please change before signing in, do not leave any equipment in the changing rooms. There is limited space on the deck to leave personal belongings, so please be mindful of others and their space. Put your bag in a clear area / locker / table space on the deck.

Check in and check out

Once ready to swim go to the sign in desk, hand over your membership card and collect a numbered wristband which must be worn at all times whilst in the water.

All swimmers must have their membership card which will be exchanged for a numbered wristband and placed in the correspondingly numbered pouch in the swimmers file. Upon exiting the water the swimmer must immediately return the band and retrieve their membership card. This will enable the OWS manager to check all swimmers in and out of the water and ensure that we hold appropriate medical and emergency contact details for those in the lake


Check out the safety information / water temperature on the board. If you are new to the lake, make yourself known to the TA Swim Manager who will be able to talk you through normal operating procedures.

Put on your swim hat and enter the water from the deck.

What you will need

You need your:

  • membership card,
  • Wetsuit (or exemption form)
  • a red, purple, blue or white swimming hat (SEE SWIM HAT SECTION FOR WHICH COLOUR TO BRING)


Are compulsory for the summer swims, unless a signed exemption form is in place for the individual. Copies of all completed exemption forms are held in the TA OWS file during the season. The non-wetsuit swimmers will be provided with details of water temperature at sign-in. Water must be 14 degrees or over for a non- wetsuit swim to be permitted. The non-wet suit swimmer must wear a Green hat.

Any swimmer signed off the previous year will be carried forward to the next year, all others swimmers will need to register as a non-wetsuit swimmer.

Swimming Caps:

A swim cap must be worn when swimming in the lake with specific colours indicating the following:

  • Red swim hat indicates a regular wetsuit swimmer partaking in normal swim session activities.
  • Purple indicates juniors and novice open water swimmers.
  • White swim hat indicates a participant within a training race.
  • Green swim hat indicates an approved non-wetsuit swimmer.
  • Other colours to be used to indicate other special requirements such as tethered swimmers and visually impaired swimmers. Use of other colours to be communicated to the WA Duty Manager by the TA Swim Manager.
  • Members should bring their own hat if possible.

Swimming Caps can now be bought via contactless payment on deck for £5

In The Water – Swimming Etiquette

Enjoy your swim and be considerate of other swimmers. Always leave space between yourself and other swimmers.

If you’re fast and skilled, use your skills and judgement to pass others wide and reduce your kick temporarily, give others space, don’t cut people up. The lake is large and there is space for everyone to enjoy their swim at their own pace.

Don’t draft – spread wide.

Do not stop or gather by the buoys,  if you do need to stop, please swim out of the loop slightly to not to become an obstacle.

If at any time you are in trouble, feel anxious or panic, put yourself on your back to float and wave your arms or call to attract the attention of the safety team on kayaks, the safety boat or watching from the pontoon – someone will come over to you and offer the necessary assistance.

In order to respect the safety of the OEC team we ask you to swim within your limits. Take it easy and enjoy being in the water.

At the end of your swim exit the water at the deck and go straight to the sign in/out desk, return your band, and collect your membership card. A warm shower is often a good idea especially in lower temperatures.

Tea and coffee will be available for you to make in Cabin 8, but please bring your own cup.

You will still be charged if you fail to attend or turn up too late for the start of your time slot. When you book a slot to swim, you are taking someone else’s chance.

OWS General Inforamtion

Dates of Tri-Anglia OWS 2023/24

Sessions will take place Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings between the first Saturday in May and the last Saturday in August plus the first three Saturday’s in September, dependant upon water quality and temperature.

The OEC is booked to Tri-Anglia from 07:30 until 10:30 on Saturdays with access to the water between 08:00 and 10:00; and from 17:30 until 20:30 on Wednesdays with access to the water between 18:00 and 20:00 (or dusk, whichever is first).

Itinerary for each session as follows:

  1. TA OWS manager and assistants to arrive and set up, meet with Duty Manager. DM to advise of water temperature and any water quality issues. (Saturday 07:30, Wednesday 17:30)
  2. Kayak support will begin escorting last swimmers towards the deck prior to finish times in order to ensure the water is clear by 10.00 / 20.00
  3. TA OWS co-ordinator and WA Duty manager review and close session (Saturday 10:20, Wednesday 20:20)
  4. TA to be clear of the deck (Saturday 10:30, Wednesday 20:30)


All swimmers will be briefed as they sign in. First time lake swimmers must identify themselves and will have the rules, the course and safety procedures explained to them. The usual briefing information will include: any change of course, any unusual water quality or temperature, if there is a threat of lightening what the emergency procedure is.

Swim Courses


We could not run any of our sessions without you as volunteers. Each session needs a swim manager for the duration of the whole session (Wednesday 5.30 – 8.30, and Saturday 7.30-10.30) and 2 helpers, half a session each (Wednesday 5.45-7.00 & 7.00-8.15, Saturday 7.45-9.00 & 9.00-10.15).

You will be rewarded with a free swim and the opportunity to gossip with everyone who has to cross your path. Full instructions can be emailed to you in advance, and all paperwork is available on site. Please offer your services to Di at OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk or sign up via the OWS Volunteer rota page.

Water Evacuation Procedure:

If it proves necessary to evacuate swimmers from the lake, then the alarm will be sounded. The alarm will be continuous sounding of whistles of and/or horns. Swimmers on hearing the alarm, MUST make their way to the South bank (or return to OEC deck or boat launch if closer), leave the water and walk back to the OEC to be counted.

Junior open water swimming rules and procedures

Junior swimmers who are new to open water must report to the OWS manager. All new juniors must swim with an adult.  Junior swimmers who are new to open water and their adult swim companion must swim together and the Junior must wear a purple swim hat.

Once the junior has gained open water swim experience and confidence they will be able to swim without their adult partner. This is at the discretion of the OWS manager, but an appropriate adult must remain on the deck at all times.

The TA swim manager has the right to refuse any junior to swim.


Risk Assessments from Whitlingham Adventure available on request.

End To End Swims (to return for 2022)

The End to End provides a rare opportunity to swim the full length of Whitlingham Broad, which is just under one mile.

Each End to End follows the same format and timings, with two mass starts, each with their own pre-swim briefing. This allows everyone the opportunity to swim E2E if they wish.

The E2E swim is roughly 2 miles long. You can if you wish exit the lake at the far end, after one mile and walk back to the WA. Shoes can be transported for you to the far end of the lake.

The WA/sign-in desk will be open from 7.45am.

Safety cover moves with the pack of swimmers, this means you will only be permitted to start swimming with one of the mass starts. We cannot allow any exceptions to this rule. So please ensure you get to the lake in good time to sign-in, change and attend the relevant swim briefing.

Swim Start Times

8.15am for any swimmers who wish to allow 35 minutes + to swim a mile. If you wish to join this start please ensure you have signed in by 8.00am and that you are ready to listen to the 8.10am briefing.

8.30am for swimmers aiming for sub 35 minute miles. Swim brief will take place at 8.25am.

All swimmers must be out of the lake by 10am.

End to End route


The swim starts from Whitlingham Adventure (WA), Trowse, Norwich, NR14 8TR, which is the series of cabins under the large white canopy at the end of the largest Broad

There are two pay and display car parks off Whitlingham Lane. Tri-Anglia members are able to buy a year’s car parking at a discounted rate cp@rcpparking.com . If you expect to make several visits in the year to the country park it can work out cheaper to buy a discounted annual pass than to pay per visit.

Saturdays – WA is open for signing in and changing from 07:5. Access to the water is available from 08:00 until 10:00. The centre closes to Tri-Anglia members at 10:30.

Wednesdays – WA is open for signing in and changing from 17:5. Access to the water is available from 18:00 until 20:00 (or dusk, whichever arrives soonest). The Centre closes to Tri-Anglia members at 20:30.

No, sorry, if you have not got your card you will not be allowed to swim. You need to allow two weeks for delivery of your membership card once you’ve joined the club; don’t leave it until the Friday night before the Saturday OWS session to join!

Payment will be requested once you have booked a swim session.

We offer a 75m triangle for novice swimmers and a loop of 400m, and an additional loop of 800m is normally also available. You may swim as many or as few loops as you like. The last Saturday of each month are planning to operate an end to end swim rather than an 800m loop in addition to the 400m and novice loops.

In the past we have organised End-to-End swims on the last Saturday of every month during which swimmers can swim the whole length of the Broad (and back again, if they wish).

We have lots of exciting new ideas for 2022, so keep your eyes on Transition Times. Also see the events section for future details, or keep your eyes open on our Facebook page.

You have to be a club member to swim. Visitors to the area who are members from another triathlon club may be allowed to swim as a guest at the discretion of the swim manager if spaces are available. Please email OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk in advance for more information.

No, sorry, due to insurance regulations you have to be a member to swim at our club sessions.

We welcome members who are new to open water, but all attendees must be competent swimmers, and able to complete the minimum distance of 1,500m in a pool. We recommend that you attend one of our club swim sessions at NHSG or Beccles Lido prior to coming to the lake to ensure competency.

If you are new to open water swimming please do introduce yourself to the registration desk and we will make sure that you are aware of the session procedures and we can normally find an experienced member to look after you. Take your time to acclimatize to the water and spend some time on the 75m novice loop closer to the deck, and on the shorter 400m loop before tackling the longer distances.

If you feel you have mitigating circumstances which requires non-wetsuit open water swimming, please fill in the Wetsuit Exemption Application Form and obtain the necessary signature prior to your session ( new applications from 2021 will be carried forward to 2022) The water temperature must be a minimum of 14 degrees for non-wetsuit swimming and you swim at your own risk. Non wet suit swimmers must wear a blue hat to identify themselves.

Yes, but do be aware that you will feel the cold much more and please accept that this is at your own risk.

Yes, we have male and female changing rooms and showers.

We provide free tea and coffee, but please bring your own cups, and biscuits to enjoy after your swim. You can help yourself from cabin 8, but please clean up after yourself and be aware that there may be other swimmers exiting the water after you and they will also need something to eat. Biscuits are for swimmers only. Please supervise children in this area. Or take a walk along to the Norwich Boat House where they have a volunteer run café serving bacon rolls and other goodies.

Please bring your own swim hat with you – Red for a regular swimmer. Or if Di is the swim manager they can be bought at the lake (card or phone payment only)

If we have to cancel a session due to poor water quality or temperature we will post the info on the club forum and facebook pages, so please do check before you leave home. If we have enough notice from the OEC we will post to our Facebook group, and put an item on our website so please keep an eye on social media and the website.

The team at the OEC provide safety cover in the form of boats and kayaks on the water. There are also spotters on deck keeping an eye on the swimmers. The water quality is monitored and tested regularly and the temperature is tested prior to each swim.

If any swimmer gets into difficulty they are to roll onto their back and raise one arm into the air; the rescue boat will assist them. If any swimmer sees a swimmer in difficulty they should stop and assist immediately, and stay with them until the rescue boat arrives.

The water is monitored for blue green alge levels regularly. Swims may be cancelled if the approved levels of toxicity are exceeded. Please look at the website and club Facebook page before leaving home, as this is where we will post details of last minute cancellations.

The temperature varies throughout the season and is monitored regularly. Staff at the desk will be able to tell you the current temperature. It can range from 11 to 22 degrees, swimming will not be permitted below 11 degrees

We don’t recommend or encourage it, especially if the water levels are low. If you are practising for a dive start event you may dive in providing you accept that you do so at your own risk, and have spoken to the OWS manager on the day. You must also ensure the water is clear of other swimmers and that the water is deep enough.

We welcome junior open water swimmers!

Junior swimmers who are new to open water must report to the OWS manager. All new juniors must swim with an adult.  Junior swimmers who are new to open water and their adult swim companion must swim together and the Junior must wear a purple swim hat.

Once the junior has gained open water swim experience and confidence they will be able to swim without their adult partner. This is at the discretion of the OWS manager, but an appropriate adult must remain on the deck at all times.

The TA swim manager has the right to refuse any junior to swim.

No, but our members sometimes have second hand suits to sell via our forum or Facebook group. For new suits you are best visiting (online or in the flesh) a triathlon shop. The nearest to us is Tri Harder in Dereham. In fact, Ben of Tri Harder is a member and if you ask nicely could even bring a suit along to the club sessions for you. (www.triharder.co.uk)

No, but Tri Harder in Dereham do. There are also postal wetsuit hire services in the UK.

Open Water Swim Coordinator 2022

Our 2022 Open Water Swim Coordinator is Di Swanepoel. She can be contacted via OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk. Di is the point of contact for Whitlingham Adventure into Tri-Anglia and will be recruiting the volunteers to operate each of our club open water swims through 2022. Please contact Di to offer your assistance or with any queries.

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