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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. Not only can you choose from multiple distances, we have a brand new Great East SwimRun for those who'd like to enjoy both land and water.

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.

If you, or anyone you know, might like the chance to volunteer at this event then just visit Sport and Event Volunteering for more information.

The Course

The Great East Swim course map is shown to the left including 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile and 5k distances.

In addition, this year's Great East Swim will also feature a brand new 10k marathon swim, which has now reached capacity.

Read more about the 10k swim in the section below.

Course Map

Great East Swim 10k

What will the course be?

The 10k course will consist of 6 laps of the Great Swim course. You will be constantly monitored by our safety team and have the opportunity to finish at the end of any lap should you need to on the day. Your time will stop when you go over the timing mat at the finish. 

If I don’t complete the 10k will I still get my finisher's pack?

Yes – lap counting is an honesty system and down to each individual swimmer. Regardless of when you come through the finish system you are still entitled to your finisher's pack.

Will there be a feed station?

There will be a small pontoon reserved for 10k swimmers that you will pass at the end of each lap. You can stop on any or all of your laps to have a drink of Aqua Pura or take on some Jelly Babies. We recommend you practice taking these on board in your training. To avoid polluting the lake we ask that people replace any bottles back on the pontoon.  

Can I get out or have a rest at any point?

The feed station will be in deep water. You won’t be able to stand up but you will be able to hold on and take a minute to get your breath and receive a few words of encouragement from our Great Swim team. There will not be space for you to exit the water unless you are withdrawing from the swim.

Can friends / family access the feed station?

The feed station is small and adjacent to deep water so only Great Swim staff will be able to access it.

Do I have to finish the Swim inside the 4 hour cut off time?

We will try and allow everyone to safely finish their swim. Due to the safety systems in place should people take longer than 4 hours we may have to ask them to finish a lap early, or have our safety teams bring them in. In addition to this we will be monitoring all swimmers and should our medical and safety team feel it is unsafe for any swimmer to continue at any point we may ask you to come in early. We will work with all swimmers to try and ensure they are able to finish the full 10k if it is safe to do so. Our priority is the well-being of swimmers.

If I’m not confident of completing the 10k distance can I drop down a distance? 

Subject to availability you can swap to a different distance, just email the customer services team at

Can I bring my own hydration and nutrition products for the event? 

Unfortunately we can’t cater for individual requirements as we have limited space on the feed station. Bottles of water and Jelly Babies will be made available for all swimmers. 



The Great Swim Series is delighted to announce a brand new challenge for those who enjoy long distance open water swimming. At the 2016 Great East Swim we will be introducing a newer, longer, bigger swim in Alton Water, which will give swimmers the chance to take on a 10k marathon swim. Yes, that's right.....a 10k!

Taking place on Saturday 18 June 2016 the 10k will take swimmers on six laps of the existing one mile course and will have a 'pit-stop' after each lap to allow swimmers to top up on drinking water and, if necessary, take a 5 minute breather before heading back in the water again.

The entry fee includes entry into the event, a 2016 Great Swim towel and event badge, as well as a finisher's pack and medal.


This swim is a challenging distance and should be considered carefully before entering.  Please read the following:

  1. You must be able to swim 10k, at least, in one session without stopping.
  2. You must be prepared to be in the water for a prolonged period of time.
  3. All swimmers taking on the 10k challenge must be able to complete the 10k swim continuously and unaided within four hours.
  4. If swimmers have not reached halfway (5k) within two hours they will not be allowed to continue.
  5. Swimmers should be aware that the safety team have the right to extract them from the water at any point around the course on safety and/or medical grounds.


Great East Swim 10k

Event location

About Suffolk

Suffolk has an extraordinary amount to offer visitors and a wide range of experiences to enjoy. It’s the first place in the country to see the sun as it rises over 50 miles of gorgeous coastline, and highlights the unspoilt countryside that inspired Constable and Gainsborough. 

With some of the most picturesque villages in Britain, practically unchanged since Tudor times, the county is also home to numerous lush river valleys that extend to its western extremity where the sun sets over the world-famous Newmarket racecourse. 

Within these borders, you’ll find a rich heritage, a thriving cultural and arts scene, countless gems both hidden and famous, excellent accommodation, and food and drink providers so skillful that their offering is practically an art form in its own right.

Suffolk is a unique county, one that’s full of charm. It is a place that often feels wild and remote yet has swift transport links to and from London which make it perfect for weekend breaks as well as longer holidays for visitors of all ages.



About Suffolk

Alton Water

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. 

Alton Water


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

By car:

The Great East Swim can be reached by following the postcode IP9 2RY.

There will be plenty of car parking available at Alton Water so there is no need to park along the roads.  Due to narrow stretches of road around the event venue please can we ask that you drive carefully through the lanes and the village of Stutton.  

If you intend to drive to the Great East Swim have you considered car sharing?

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.



About Suffolk

With a huge variety of quality self-catering accommodation, luxury hotels, outdoor camping experiences and unique places to stay to suit all ages and tastes, Suffolk is the ideal destination for multi-generational holidays. Go to Visit Suffolk for a round-up of the best places to stay and things to do for those using their holidays for extended family time. 

Ipswich - Suffolk’s vibrant and historic County Town – is just a few minutes drive from Alton Water. Ipswich has an excellent choice of accommodation – from small family run guest houses, through the well known brands, to a 4 Star boutique hotel with beautiful quayside views. For local information in Ipswich visit All About Ipswich or call 01473-258070.



It’s not all about swimming! 
Throughout the day a variety of cultural and sporting attractions, along with an opportunity to taste some of the county’s finest produce in the farmers market, will be available alongside the swim for the whole family to enjoy. A full programme and timetable of activities and attractions will be added over the coming months, so keep visiting to find out more.




Suffolk Market Events

Suffolk Market Events deliver award winning farmers’ markets across Suffolk and we are delighted to once again be a part of the Great East Swim.

Every year our fabulous Farmers’ Market lines the grass area at Alton Water providing hungry swimmers, and their spectators, the chance to enjoy some of the region’s very best, locally produced food......and it’s all organised personally, by Justine Paul, founder of Suffolk Market Events and the current title holder of Suffolk’s Food & Drink Hero.

Here at Suffolk Market Events we really do care about the provenance of our food. Everything that is sold in our markets has been produced by the person who is selling, and nothing will have travelled further than fifty miles to be at the event. We don’t do mass produced junk food. We showcase the highest quality, locally sourced food and we make it available all day so that the last swimmer out of the water gets the same choice as the first swimmer out.

In 2016 we will have at least twenty of the region’s best, small-scale producers ready to serve you at the Great East Swim, including award winning beef burgers made in Bury St Edmunds (using Suffolk beef); spit-roasted duck wraps - cooked on site using locally produced Gressingham ducks; Suffolk sausages served in a freshly baked bread roll; delicious vegetarian salads and vegan snacks all handmade near Bury St Edmunds; a fantastic range of Suffolk jams, preserves and pickles; delicious slabs of home baked cakes and biscuits from Diss; freshly made juices using organic, local fruit and vegetables; and award winning ice creams and shakes from Essex.   

For further information about all our Farmers’ Markets please contact Justine Paul on 07704 627973 or email

Take a look at the website -
Find Suffolk Market Events on Facebook  and Twitter 

Farmers' Market


This year’s Great East Swim elite race will form part of the European Championships senior and junior selection criteria.

The race will be held over 5KM (3 laps of the course) and feature the best of British swimmers.

Entries are based on the following selection criteria:

1500m male (current 12 months ranking 2016) Qualifying Criteria 
Athletes born 2001 and 2002 (14 and 15 years) 17:42
Athletes born 1999 and 2000 (16 and 17 years) 17:26
Athletes born 1997 and 1998 (18 and 19 years) 17:11
Seniors, althetes born 1996 and older 16:08


800m female (currents 12 months ranking 2016) Qualifying Criteria
Athletes born 2001 and 2002 (14 and 15 years) 09:31
Athletes born 1999 and 2000 (16 and 17 years) 09:24
Athletes born 1997 and 1998 (18 and 19 years) 09:10
Seniors, althetes born 1996 and older 08:56


400m Individual Medley Male (current 12 months rankings) Qualifying Criteria
Athletes born 2001 and 2002 (14 and 15 years) 04:57
Athletes born 1999 and 2000 (16 and 17 years) 04:46
Athletes born 1997 and 1998 (18 and 19 years) 04:40
Seniors, althetes born 1996 and older 04:29


400m Individual Medley Female (current 12 months rankings) Qualifying Criteria
Athletes born 2001 and 2002 (14 and 15 years) 05:11
Athletes born 1999 and 2000 (16 and 17 years) 05:09
Athletes born 1997 and 1998 (18 and 19 years) 05:07
Seniors, althetes born 1996 and older 04:53

Additional Criteria:

Top 15 finish at any OW FINA event within the 2014/2015 season
Top 10 at any OW LEN event within the 2014/2015 season

Consideration only will be given to:
Top 8 at any governing body sanctioned OW swimming international open race within the 2014/2015 season

Those who were/are invited or took part in the 2015 or 2016 National OW training camp

If you meet the above criteria please contact Elite Race Coordinator, Andy Nixon with provding your name, age group, club and time/location of your qualifying performance.

Entry Criteria


It’s important to be aware of the Great East Swim 2016 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 2016 event day timetable:

Time Swim Hat Colour  
Friday 17 June 2016 
18:00   SwimRun
Saturday 18 June 2016 
08:00 Red 5k Swim
08:05 Green 10k Swim
10:00 Pink 2 Mile Swim
11:00 Yellow 1 Mile Swim
11:30 Orange 1 Mile Swim
12:00 White 1 Mile Swim
12:30 Red 1 Mile Swim 
12:50 Green 250m Kids Wave 
13:30 Pink 1/2 Mile Swim
14:00 Yellow 1 Mile Swim
14:30 Orange 1 Mile Swim 
15:00 White 1 Mile Swim

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

Swim events 2016

How to enter

1/2 Mile

£28 per entry


1 Mile

£34 per entry


2 Miles

£38 per entry



£40 per entry



£65 per entry