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The 2017 Great East Swim on Saturday 17 June is now closed!

Good luck to everyone taking part this weekend, we'll see you on the start line!

The event takes place on Saturday 17 June in Alton Water and is a great day out for swimmers, families and spectators. With farmers' markets, plenty of musical entertainment and swim distances ranging from a half mile right up to a 10k, there really is something for everyone!




It’s important to be aware of the Great East Swim 2017 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 2017 event day timetable:

Time Swim Hat Colour  
Saturday 17 June 2017
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 250 metre swim (8 yrs old +)
12:55 YELLOW School Swim250
13:30 PINK 1/2 mile swim
14:00 YELLOW 1 mile swim
14:30 ORANGE 1 mile swim 

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

Swim events 2017

Suffolk Market Events

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 food village lines the grass area at Alton Water, providing hungry swimmers and their spectators the chance to enjoy some the region’s very best local produce.

Here are 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 2017 we will have twenty of the region’s best, small scale producers ready to serve you at the Great East Swim including gourmet steak burgers made in Bury St Edmunds using Suffolk beef, freshly baked rolls, pitta and pretzels stuffed with a fantastic range of fillings from Suffolk sausages, lamb, vegetables and your choice of relishes, sauces and slaw or sweet potato fries, delicious vegetarian salads, vegan snacks and gluten free sweets and savouries handmade near Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, plus delicious slabs of fresh, home baked cakes and chocolate brownies from Colchester, fabulous Suffolk artisan fudge  and award winning handmade ice creams and sorbets from Lavenham.  

What better way to kick off National Picnic Week than by dropping into our food village and tucking into a fantastically tasty picnic by the water? We can’t wait to see you all on Saturday!

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


Farmers' Market

Event location


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

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

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.


New for 2017: Great East SwimRun

Great North SwimRun

Runners and swimmers from across the UK, and triathletes seeking a change from the traditional triathlon format will enjoy stepping up to a new challenge.

Based on teamwork, passion, and closeness to nature, teams of two embark on a seamless journey across the landscape, taking on land and water, as they navigate their way around the course.

The Great East SwimRun is an opportunity to ditch the roads and the pool; limber up and embrace an off-road, open-water island-hopping adventure!


New for 2017: Great East SwimRun

Swim Secure

Swim Secure® products are used by competent swimmers to increase visibility in the open water. They are suitable for use by open water swimmers, triathletes, recreational swimmers, families and everyone in between. BE SAFER . BE SEEN
Find out more >

Swim Secure® will be at the Great East Swim this year offering swimmers the chance to purchase open water swim products, including tow floats.

Pop over to the Swim Secure pop-up tent this weekend where you can buy a used tow float for £10, or return it and receive a £5 refund.

The development of Swim Secure® products was pioneered by Swim Secure® in the UK and Europe.

Swim Secure

Great East Swim250

If you’re keen to try an open water swim, but don’t know where to start, then why not have a go at our brand new Great East Swim250 event?
What is it?
250 metres (the equivalent of 10 lengths of a standard 25 metre pool) of open water swimming/splashing/doggy-paddling in the bay area of Alton Water.
When: Saturday 17 June 2017
Where: The scenic setting of Alton Water in Suffolk
Who: Anyone aged 8 years old and over, suitable for all abilities
How much: £20 per entry
Great East Swim250 is the ideal event for new or nervous swimmers, families, and children aged 8 and over, where you can literally test the water and get a feel for swimming in the great outdoors. 
Please note:

Wetsuits are compulsory and every child aged 12 and under must be accompanied by one adult (per child). Anyone aged 18+ years old is classified as an adult.

Payment information

For children aged 8 - 12 years old the entry payment is £20, which includes the entry of one adult per child. For anyone aged 13 years old and over the entry is £20 per entry.
Places are limited for this fun, family-focussed event so make sure you secure yours today!

Now closed  

Now closed  

Great East Swim250

Aqua Sphere Lido

Be inspired to become England's most active county.....for free!

Come along to 'test the water' in the Aqua Sphere Lido where you can extend your warm-up before the main event or drop in afterwards for a well-deserved cool-down. 

The Lido is not just for swimmers taking part, if you have family and friends who would like to give open water swimming a go then they can borrow a wetsuit (free of charge) from Aqua Sphere, subject to availability. 

The Aqua Sphere Lido will be located near the finish area in front of the main lawn, wetsuits are compulsory and swimmers under the age of 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. You must be a competent swimmer to enter the Lido. The Aqua Sphere Lido will be open throughout the day subject to demand and lifeguard availability. The Lido is offered free of charge but donations to charity will be gratefully received.

Try it out for FREE!


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

The Great East Swim 10k is also back by popular demand and will be 6 laps of the standard 1 mile course.

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


Click on the links below to download useful event information: