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Great North Swim

The Great North Swim is Europe’s biggest open water swimming event with around 10,000 participants.

Over three days, participants of all abilities take the plunge in stunning Windermere over a range of distances. The event also features thrilling elite races with some of the world’s best swimmers. Get your family and friends along to make a weekend of it in the picturesque surroundings of the Lake District National Park.

The Course

The Great North 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
Site Map

Event location

Windermere is England's largest lake at 10.5 miles long (17km), stretching from Ambleside in the North to Newby Bridge in the South.

Surrounded by some of the nation’s most spectacular natural scenery - the Lake District National Park - the Great North Swim is an inspiring outdoor swim. With large screens around the event site, family and friends can watch all the action.

Make a weekend of it in the Lakes

Why not turn your trip into a great weekend away. Take time to explore the land that has inspired world-renowned poets and writers such as Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. The breathtaking scenery of the Lake District acts as a natural adventure playground - as well as Windermere being England's longest lake, it also boasts England's highest mountain (Scafell Pike), deepest lake (Wastwater) and steepest road (Hardknott Pass). Where else could you find such a variety of world-class outdoor activities in such an accessible and compact region?

Top 5 Attractions in the Lake District National Park:

  1. Mountain Biking-The Loughrigg fell tour - The Lake District is one of the most exciting places in the world to come mountain biking. If you want to challenge yourself on England's highest peaks, to enjoy an epic day out over endless miles of stunning countryside, or to journey for several days, barely touching tarmac, this is the place to visit.The fells just west of Ambleside are gentler than the higher fells and offer a good introduction to those new to the Lake District. The Loughrigg Fell circular mountain bike tour takes in the pretty mix of lakes, woodland fells and lanes that surround the base of Loughrigg Fell.
  2. Rydal Mount and Gardens- Rydal, Ambleside, Cumbria - Rydal Mount, Wordsworth's best loved home for 37 years. Here he wrote many of his poems and revised and improved much of his earlier works including the Prelude and the famous 'Daffodils' poem. This historic home offers, large beautiful terraced gardens landscaped by the poet, magnificent views of lake Windermere and Rydal Water.
  3. Derwent Water Marina - Keswick, Cumbria - This busy marina on Derwentwater offers watersports tuition, boat hire, sailing, kayaking and canoeing.
  4. The World of Beatrix Potter - Bowness-on-Windermere Windermere, Cumbria - A magical indoor attraction that brings to life all 23 Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit tales. Meet all your favourite characters and find out more about Beatrix Potter herself.
  5. Townend -Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria - A real Lakeland hidden treasure set in the beautiful village of Troutbeck, this 17thC solid stone and slate house sits imposingly on the hillside, its huge chimneys typical of the area

About Windermere

The Great North Swim takes place at the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina, Lake Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LP.

How to get there?

Due to the number of swimmers and spectators visiting the site, traffic around Windermere and Ambleside will be extremely busy. In order to minimise congestion there will be NO parking or dropping off at the event site.

By train:

Travelling to the event on the West Coast Mainline? Then take advantage of the exclusive Virgin Trains discount: For you, your friends and family... whether you’re travelling to an event on your own or up to groups of nine, you can all get up to 50% off Virgin Trains Advance Fares. This exclusive discount on Virgin Trains is the cheapest, easiest and most comfortable way of getting you and your supporters to the start line. Click here to book now -

Park, Sail and Walk:

You should have received your Sail Discount Voucher in your event pack. This entitles each swimmer to use Windermere Lake Cruises services operating from Bowness to Brockhole and Ambleside to Bowness piers at a discounted rate. The voucher is valid for:-Swimmer/competitor to sail at the discounted rate of to be confirmed. Up to 4 persons accompanying the swimmer to sail at the reduced return fares of: to be confirmed.From Brockhole Pier it is just less than a one mile walk to the event site. See back of voucher for more information and sail operating times.

  1. Please allow one hour travelling time from Bowness to the start area;
  2. Follow the car-parking signs in Bowness (applicable car parking rates apply);
  3. Take the Windermere Lake Cruises boat from Bowness to Brockhole;
  4. Follow the signs at Brockhole and walk to the event site (approximately 1 mile);

Note all return departures to Bowness will be from Ambleside Pier only which is a one mile walk north of the event site.

Park and Walk:

It is highly recommended that you use the Park and Sail service, however limited parking is available in Ambleside/Waterhead. Follow the event parking signs. It is a one mile walk to the event site. Applicable car parking rates apply.


A bike park will be available and it will be staffed but we recommend that you bring a suitable bike lock and do not leave any valuables with your bike.


The Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina is proud to host the Great North Swim. We look forward to welcoming participants and supporters to the shore of Lake Windermere. For assistance before the event, telephone 08458 503 502 or visit



Please see below for the 2015 event day timetable:

TimeSwim Hat Colour 
Friday 12 June 2015 
Friday 12:00 5k Swim
Friday 14:00Red5k Swim
Friday 16:00Green2 Mile Swim
Friday 17:00Pink2 Mile Swim

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

Friday 12 June 2015

Please see below for the 2015 event day timetable:

TimeSwim Hat Colour 
Saturday 13 June
Saturday 9:00RedHalf Mile Swim
Saturday 9:30Green1 mile Swim
Saturday 10:00Pink1 mile Swim
Saturday 10:30Yellow1 mile Swim
Saturday 11:00Orange1 mile Swim
Saturday 11:30White1 mile Swim
Saturday 13:05Red1 mile Swim
Saturday 13:30Green1 mile Swim
Saturday 14:00Pink1 mile Swim
Saturday 14:30Yellow1 mile Swim
Saturday 15:00Orange1 mile Swim
Saturday 15:30White1 mile Swim (Challenger Wave)
Saturday 16:15 Elite Women5K 
Saturday 17:30 Elite Men5K 

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

Saturday 13 June 2015

Please see below for the 2015 event day timetable:

TimeSwim Hat Colour 
Sunday 14 June
Sunday 9:00RedHalf Mile
Sunday 9:30Green1 mile swim
Sunday 10:00Pink1 mile swim
Sunday 10:30Yellow1 mile swim
Sunday 11:00Orange2 mile swim
Sunday 12:00White2 mile swim

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

Sunday 14 June 2015


This year’s Great North 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 with a strong selection of selected international athletes.

Entries are based on the following selection criteria:

1500m male (current 12 months ranking 2015)Qualifying Criteria 
Youth (15 and 16 yrs ages as at 31st December)17:14
Junior (17 and 18 yrs ages as at 31st December)16:57

800m female (currents 12 months ranking 2015)Qualifying Criteria
Youth (15 and 16 yrs ages as at 31st December)09:25
Junior (17 and 18 yrs ages as at 31st December)09:23

400m Individual Medley Male (current 12 months rankings)Qualifying Criteria
Youth (15 and 16yrs ages as at 31st December)04:50
Junior (17 and 18yrs ages as at 31st December04:42
400m Individual Medley Female (current 12 months rankings)Qualifying Criteria
Youth (15 and 16yrs ages as at 31st December)05:05
Junior (17 and 18yrs ages as at 31st December)05:05

Additional Criteria:

Top 15 finish at any OW FINA event within the 2013/2014 season
Top 10 at any OW LEN event within the 2013/2014 season

Consideration only will be given to:
Top 8 at any governing body sanctioned OW swimming international open race within the 2013/2014 season

Those who were/are invited or took part in the 2014 or 2015 National OW training camp

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

(male and female races)
Entry Criteria


Click on the links below to download useful event information:

How to enter

1/2 Mile

Price: £35 per entry (inc VAT of £5.83)
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: £40 per entry (inc VAT of £6.66)
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: £47 per entry (inc VAT of £7.83)
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: £48 per entry (inc VAT of £8)
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.