Skip to Content

Great East Swim

Set in the beautiful Alton Water reservoir, this peaceful part of the world is enjoyed all year round by walkers, cyclists and wildlife spotters. Enjoy the unspoilt outdoors and discover award winning beaches as well as a group of swimmers raring to dive into their open water challenge.

Please note that your safety in the open water is our number one priority. All of our swimming events have expert kayakers overseeing your progress with safety boats ready for the unlikely event of an emergency.

The Course

The Great East Swim course map is shown below including 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile and 5K distances


A wave that pits the best against the best. This wave is aimed at club swimmers and seasoned open water swimmers who are looking for a sub 30 minute time for the 1 mile distance. Trophy's will be awarded to the fastest male and female swimmers in this wave and presentations will take place along with the elite athletes on the Great Swim podium.

Course Map
The Start
The Finish

Event location

The Great East Swim takes place at the picturesque Alton Water reservoir near Ipswich, Suffolk. The reservoir provides the main source of drinking water for Ipswich and the southern part of Suffolk.

Alton Water offers the opportunity to do far more than swim – it’s the perfect location for walks, cycle rides, wildlife spotting and family picnics. With miles of unspoilt countryside, numerous award winning beaches and scores of enchanting towns and villages within reach of Alton Water, Suffolk makes an ideal choice for a short break. Only an hour’s train journey away from London Liverpool Street station. For more information, take a look at:

About Suffolk

The Great East Swim is staged at Alton Water Sports Centre near Ipswich. Suffolk IP9 2RY. How to get there:

By car:

Access to Alton Water will be signed from the A14 (exit at junction 56, A137). The entrance to Alton Water is off the B1080 (Holbrook Road) close to the village of Stutton.There will be limited car parking available on site. Please note: The surrounding roads are very narrow in places – please do not attempt on-road parking.If you intend to drive to the Great East Swim, have you considered car sharing?Why not leave the car at home and consider one of the alternative options to make getting to and from the Great East Swim as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

By train:

London Liverpool Street station is approximately a 60 minute train ride away, with direct trains running every half an hour to Manningtree-the nearest station to Alton Water. From here you can get a taxi to take you to the event site.If arriving at Ipswich main line station you will need to get a connecting train to Manningtree. Trains run every 30 minutes between Ipswich and Manningtree. From here you can get a taxi to take you to Alton Water.

By bike:

There are cycle routes to Alton Water. A bike park will be available and it will be staffed but we recommend that you bring a suitable bike lock and that you do not leave any valuables with your bike.


For all the information you need to ensure you have a Great Swim and a great stay in Suffolk, take a look at Visit Suffolk and All About Ipswich. For local information in Ipswich call 01473-258070.



Justine Paul
Suffolk Market Events – Delivering Award Winning Farmers’ Markets

Kiddie's Cakes
Homemade, freshly baked slices of delicious cake

Cambridge Gourmet Mallows
Gourmet marshmallows, handmade in Cambridge. Fat Free, additive free, gluten free but utterly indulgent!

Essex Bakery
Handmade chocolate brownies from Colchester using local ingredients where possible and the best quality chocolate.

Xpresso Coffee
The full range of coffees, freshly ground, including cappuccino, latte and mocha.

Handmade by Hadleys Ice Cream
Creamy, smooth and deeply satisfying Ice Creams and Sorbets created using all local ingredients. Fresh from the Colne Valley.

The Flying Chef
Traditional chargrilled sausages served in poppy seed buns.

Benson Blakes
Award winning burgers from Bury St Edmunds using high quality, local meat.

Colne Valley Tea
Specialty loose leaf teas.

Nuthouse Shortbread
Delicious homemade shortbreads, local honey and beeswax candles from Tendring, Essex.

Stokes Sauces
Delicious sauces using unique recipes prepared in small batches with great ingredients and all made at our “saucery” in the heart of rural Suffolk.

The Duck Truck
Aromatic crispy duck wraps and duck salads.

Award winning free range, rare breed pork pies and sausage rolls plus homemade tiffin, quiches and Florentines.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Charity promotion of local reserves, walks and events.

HoneyBee Natural Beauty
Handmade skin and spa products from a Suffolk Beekeeper based in East Bergholt.

Activities on the day


It’s important to be aware of the Great East Swim 2015 event timetable prior to the big day. Familiarise yourself with the information below and ensure you leave plenty of time to drop off any baggage, travel to the start line and get warmed up. You must check-in 30 minutes before your start time. If you miss it we may not be able to move you to another wave, so please don't be late.

Please see below for the 2015 event day timetable:

TimeSwim Hat Colour 
Saturday 20 June 2015 
08:00Red2 Mile Swim
09:00Green2 Mile Swim
10:00Pink1 Mile Swim
10:30Yellow1 Mile Swim
11:00Orange1 Mile Swim
11:30White1 Mile Swim
11:45 250m Kids Wave
12:30Red1/2 Mile Swim
13:00Green1 Mile Swim
13:30Pink1 Mile Swim
14:00Yellow1 Mile Swim (Challenger Wave)
14:30Orange5K Swim

*NB. All times are subject to change in the lead up to the event

Saturday 20 June 2015

How to enter

1/2 Mile

Price: £28 per entry (inc VAT of £4.67)
A great introduction to outdoor swimming.
Equivalent to around 32 lengths of a 25m pool.
Average completion time 20 min.
Suitable for under 16s - entrants must be 12 years old and above.


1 Mile

Price: £34 per entry (inc VAT of £5.67)
Suitable for swimmers of all abilities.
Equivalent to 64 lengths of a 25m pool.
Average completion time 40 min.
Take a leisurely breaststroke and enjoy the scenery or kick into crawl for a faster time.
Entrants must be 16 years old and above.


2 Miles

Price: £38 per entry (inc VAT of £6.34)
Perfect event for open water swimmers looking for a longer challenge.
Equivalent to around 125 lengths of a 25m pool.
Average completion time 1hr 15 min.
Entrants must be 16 years old and above.



Price: £40 per entry (inc VAT of £6.34)
This distance is suited to experienced swimmers looking to go that little bit further.
Equivalent to around 200 lengths of a 25m pool.
Cut off times apply, swimmers must be able to reach halfway (2500m) within 1 hour and finish within 2 hours.