Open Water Swimming – 2021

No swimming at the moment due to Blue -Green Algae in the lake. We will update as we get more news.

IMPORTANT: Anyone attending a training session or Open Water Session for the first time since 29th March 2021 MUST complete a Return to Play Form.
Adult members can complete the online form. Junior members must complete the Young Persons Return To Play form and email it to the Covid Officer in advance.

Di – your OWS manager

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 for the first three Saturdays’ 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 2021. This page should be used in conjunction with OEC Emergency Action Plan.

2021 Procedures: How To Book & Returning To Play

Whilst we are very much looking forward to welcoming you all back to the lake it is going to look rather different this year.

Return To Play Form

All members attending this session MUST complete a Return to Play Form and send it to covidofficer@tri-anglia.co.uk  24 hours beforehand, and confirm the following:

  • Has not had confirmed COVID-19 infection within the last 5 months, or if they have Medical advice has been sought and confirms that they may return to training.
    • Has not had exposure to anyone with confirmed of suspected COVID-19 within the last two weeks.
    • Does not have any underlying medical conditions that makes them more susceptible to poor outcomes with COVID-19 without approval from their medical practitioner.
    • Does not live with or knowingly comes into close contact with someone currently “shielding”.
    • Confirms that they have read and understands the information presented in the BTF COVID-19 Returning to Training information – https://www.britishtriathlon.org/return-to-play/individual-training
    • Will communicate to the OWS co-ordinator Di Swanepoel at ows@tri-anglia.co.uk if they develop COVID-19 within 7 days of attending a session.

Book Your Slot – IMPORTANT

PLEASE only book ONE slot per session. All swims must be pre-booked and paid for on the website. (Go to the Training -> Adult Training Sessions Page). Choose a free slot, click on the session and then click on the green ATTEND button.

Numbers will be limited initially (30 swimmers in the lake at any one time) but this will be under review as guidance from the BTF changes. Until then we have no choice but to follow BTF rules for insurance purposes.

Online bookings will be opened up, normally about a week and a day prior to each session, and closed 24h before the start of the session (i.e. all swim slots for the Wednesday 6-8pm session will be released by the preceding Wednesday evening and closed at 6pm on Tuesday). 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 24 hours before your swim. Please only sign up for a maximum of ONE swim slot, or TWO waiting list slots, and if you do get allocated a swim from a waitng list, remember to remove yourself from the other waiting list. ALso 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.

Entry Time Slots will initially be every 15 minutes with 10 places available per slot, for example, on Wednesdays, 6.00 – 6.15, 6.15 – 6.30, 6.30 – 6.45 up until 45 minutes before then end of the session, ie 7.15 – 7.30, then we have a final 30 minute session to start no earlier than 7.30pm / 9.30am, out of the water by 8pm / 10am. Your pre-booked time slot will be the only time you will be allowed to enter the OEC.

Strictly no members to turn up to a session without booking. Covid procedures must be followed as guided by Whitingham OEC

Session Costs & Payment

Each swim costs £5 (2021 season) 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.

2021 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)


Get changed by your car / outside the OEC and arrive ready to swim (5-minute walk from the car park). Do not enter the OEC until your allotted time slot

Check in and check out

Follow the “in” arrows and go straight 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


There is very limited space on the deck to leave personal belongings, so please be mindful of others and their space. Put your towel/shoes in a clear area / table space on the deck.

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. Always leave 2m between yourself and the person in front of you.

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)

Please register at the check-in desk before entering the water. You must let us know on the desk if this is your first Tri-Anglia open water session and we will be able to give you all of the extra information needed. See our Open Water Swimming at Whitlingham Board article (from 2015) and our OWS Frequently asked Questions page pages for more detailed information.


Are compulsory, unless a signed exemption form is in place for the individual. Copies of all completed exemption forms are held in the TA OWS file at OEC 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 blue hat.

Any swimmer signed off in 2019 will be carried forward to 2021.

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.
  • Blue 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 OEC DM by the Swim Manager.
  • Members must bring their own hat.

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

In The Water

Max time in the water will be 45 minutes if you enter the water promptly at the start of your session, (eg for the 6.00-6.15 slot, you must be out of the water by 6.45). You must leave the water by the end of your slot as other swimmers will be waiting. Do not start off on a new big loop if you will not be able to complete it comfortably, stay closer to the deck on the 75m loop.

Exit the water at the end of your swim at the deck remembering to keep 2m from other swimmers entering / exiting the water. Go straight to the sign in/out desk, return your band, and collect your membership card. Collect all of your belongings and then return to your car to get changed. Please do not remain on the deck to socialise.

We are asking all swimmers to behave with consideration for others, if you do not leave the water on time others will be left waiting. Initially you will be given one warning for being late to leave the water, a second late will result in you not being allowed to book for another session for a period of 3 weeks.

We will ask you to adhere to social distancing measures at all times whilst on the deck, acclimatising to the water and swimming.

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.

We will not be opening the changing rooms / showers so you will need to change before and after your swim by your car/bike, whatever the weather. The toilet will be open, but you must wear a mask when going in the building.

OWS General Inforamtion

Dates of Tri-Anglia OWS 2021

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 (in the past) 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 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.


End To End Swims (not at the moment we are afraid – but watch this space)

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 during “normal” times an additional loop of 800m is also available. (tbc under new COVID regulations) You may swim as many or as few loops as you like. The last Saturday of each month we have traditionally operated an end to end swim rather than an 800m loop in addition to the 400m and novice loops, but again we will wait and see in 2021

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). tbc post COVID

None are planned at the moment, but as guidance relaxes things may change. Please 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. 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.

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 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 will 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 to be made for all in 2021) 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.

Changing rooms and showers are available post swim only.

In normal times:

We provide free tea and coffee and biscuits to enjoy after your swim. You can help yourself from the end cabin, 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.

COVID times – no we are afraid not

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, tweet to twitter 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 must 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 but request that you read the Junior Open Water Swimming information and bring the required documents along.

No, but our members sometimes have second hand suits to sell via our forum. 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 2021

Our 2021 Open Water Swim Coordinator is Di Swanepoel. She can be contacted via OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk. Di is the point of contact for OEC into Tri-Anglia and will be recruiting the volunteers to operate each of our club open water swims through 2021. Please contact Di to offer your assistance or with any queries.

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