How to choose a good swim spot
Time and time again, we see the same questions being asked in the various forums that we visit. One of the most common (after, where can I swim near me?) is how do I choose a good swim spot?
Well, on any swim holiday or coaching day that you come and have with us, we hope to answer that question, whether you are up for a Wet Weekend, or whether you stay for the Pleasure of Adventure you will definitely go home with a much better idea of how to choose a good swim spot.
There are several online resources that are there to help the wild swimmer, the first and most obvious is of course the Wild Swim Map which is a database of swim locations all around the world.
If you are swimming in the sea, then you definitely should check out the tide times to make sure that there is going to be water where you want to swim, and that you won't get cut off. It would also be useful to check the weather forecast, both the normal version and the marine inshore waters forecast. Although if you are heading up into the mountains, there is a specific mountain forecast available too.
Another useful resource for river swimming is from the kayaking and canoeing fraternity - of the UK Rivers Guidebook often abbreviated to the UKRGB. Kayakers and canoers grade rivers - and for a nice swim, you are definitely looking for an "Easy Touring River" of Grade 1 or Grade 2. Anything more than that, is swimmable, but only with very specific extra training - which we can definitely provide, if you are that adrenaline junky that fancies swimming Grade 3 or 4!
A great website from the kayaking world is Rain Chasers which cleverly uses Environment Agency data and cross references it to provide a good indication of what rivers are running at what levels... live!
In the last couple of years, the Environment Agency have put more and more data online, and now there is quite a useful resource available. Of particular interest to outdoor swimmers are the river levels information (updated every 15 minutes), river pollution information (that seems to be mostly several years out of date - despite monthly testing), and the bathing water quality information.
Finally, Bing Maps in the UK now provide Ordanance Survey mapping - which is great for planning a swim safari that is accessible by public footpaths and bridalways. Just ensure you choose "Ordnance Survey" from the drop down menu in the top right corner of the map. Note that you do have to get quite zoomed in before the OS maps appear.
Have fun, and stay safe.