Open Water Swimming

Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions there are currently no plans to run any OWS swim sessions this year, however please do read on to see what a normal year would look like – roll on 2021!!

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.

Open Water Swim Coordinator 2020

Our 2020 Open Water Swim Coordinator is Di Swanepoel. She can be contacted via OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk. Di is the point of contact for WOEC into Tri-Anglia and will be recruiting the volunteers to operate each of our club open water swims through 2020. Please contact Di to offer your assistance or with any queries.

Opening times

Saturdays – The Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre (WOEC) is open for signing in and changing from 07:45. Access to the water is available from 08:00 until 10:00. The centre closes to Tri-Anglia members at 10:30.

Wednesdays – The WOEC is open for signing in and changing from 17:45. Access to the water is available from 18:00 until 20:00 or dusk, whichever arrives soonest. Please see the table below for water clearance times at the end of the season. The Centre closes to Tri-Anglia members 30 minutes after we have to be out of the water, which normally means 20:30.

Session Costs

Each swim costs £** (price tbc for 2021 season) and the payment will be initiated following the scanning of the membership card barcode at the swim. Members each have their own attendance payment page.

What you will need

You need your membership card, a red swimming hat and a wetsuit. Please register at the check-in desk before getting changed and 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.

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, tea and biscuits, 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

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 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.


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 07:45. 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 17:45. 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 following the scanning of the barcode on your membership card as you sign in at the desk for each session.

We offer a 75m triangle for novice swimmers and a loop of 400m. From Saturday 16th May an additional loop of 800m is also available. You may swim as many or as few loops as you like. The last Saturday of each month we will operate an end to end swim rather than an 800m loop in addition to the 400m and novice loops.

We organise End-to-End swims on the last Saurday of every month during which swimmers can swim the whole length of the Broad (and back again, if they wish). See the events section of the site for details.

Yes, we are planning to offer informal aquathlons during the open water season. Please see the events section for 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 signatures prior to your session (any applications made in 2018 or 2019 will be carried forward, any applications made prior to 2018 will need to be resubmitted) 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.

The WA Centre has male and female changing rooms, hot showers, and lockers.

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.

Tri-Anglia swimming hats can be bought at the sign-in desk for the price of £5, card or cash payments.

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 WA we will post to our facebook group, tweet to twitter, put an item on our website and email members so please keep an eye on social media, the website and also check your inbox.

WA provides 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 forum 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 12 to 22 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 over 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.

OWS Operating Procedures 2021


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 WA Emergency Action Plan.

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.

Full 2021 season dates are as below and will be published here when they are announced.

The WA 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. Members to arrive (Saturday 07:45, Wednesday 17:45)
  3. Swimmers take to water (Saturday 08:00, Wednesday 18:00)
  4. Last swimmers to exit water (Saturday 10:00, Wednesday 20:00 or dusk)
  5. 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
  6. TA OWS co-ordinator and WA Duty manager review and close session (Saturday 10:20, Wednesday 20:20)
  7. TA to be clear of WA (Saturday 10:30, Wednesday 20:30)

Session Attendees:

Current members of Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club and on occasion visiting members from other triathlon clubs with open water swimming experience and only as guests approved by Tri-Anglia committee and/or club officers and/or OWS manager. Application form available from OWS@tri-anglia.co.uk (in advance of the session)


Will be worn unless an exception has been agreed in advance with the specific individual. A copy of this agreement will be held in the TA OWS file at WA during the Season. The non-wetsuit swimmer will be provided with details of water temperature at sign-on. Water must be 14 degrees or over for a non-wetsuit swim. The Swim Manager must make the WA Duty Manager aware of any non-wetsuit swimmers and all non-wetsuit swimmers must wear a blue swim hat.

Swimming Caps:

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

  • Red swim hat (we have nice Tri-Anglia ones) 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 may bring their own hat or purchase one on site for £5.


Briefing for each session will take place at the start of the swim, either 8am or 6pm as appropriate. Briefing will cover any change of course, unusual water quality or temperature, if threat of lightening then emergency procedure recap. New open water swimmers must be talked through session safety procedures by the Swim Manager. so it is really important new swimmers make themselves known at registration. That way we can arrange for a buddy to swim with you if you would like.

Check in and check out

All swimmers must have their membership card which is then scanned at the sign in desk at the front of the deck by a “Neoreader” App. (Members will then be emailed with options of how to pay / guests to pay £5 cash and a record kept) All swimmers will be issued with a numbered wristband and will leave their membership card/guest application form 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 OWSM 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

Water Evacuation Procedure:

Alarm to be a continuous sounding of whistles and/or horns. Swimmers to make their way to the south bank, the Flint Barn side and walk back to WA to be counted, return wrist bands and collect membership cards.

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. The swimming Manager must inform the WA Manager that there is a junior swimming.

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. An appropriate adult must be on the deck at all times for all juniors swimming.

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


End To End Swims

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

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