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Make waves at the 2020 John West Great East Swim on Saturday 20 June


Entries for the 2020 event are open!

The event takes place at Alton Water and offers a great day out for swimmers, families and spectators. With farmers' markets, plenty of musical entertainment and swim distances ranging from 250 metres* right up to a 10k, there really is something for everyone!


Check the timetable here >



Which Distance?

1/2 mile

John West 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 John West 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 20 June 2020
Where: The scenic setting of Alton Water in Suffolk
Who: Anyone aged 8 years old and over, suitable for all abilities
How much: £16 per entry
John West 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 11 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 - 11 years old the entry payment is £16 and accompanying adults must also purchase an entry at a cost of £16.
Places are limited for this fun, family-focussed event so make sure you secure yours today!



8 - 11 year olds sign up here  

12 years old and over sign up here  


Great East Swim250

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 John West 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

Wetsuit Policy

Wetsuit use is optional at all John West Great Swim events for water temperatures of 15⁰C or above. Swimmers choosing not to wear a wetsuit MUST use an approved high visibility tow float. This only applies to swimmers aged over 16 years old. Swimmers aged under 16 will be required to wear a wetsuit.

We’ve teamed up with 2XU to provide a wetsuit hire service, to learn more click here

John West Great East Swim 10k


The John West Great Swim Series is delighted to confirm that the 10k challenge will return to Alton Water on Saturday 20 June 2020.

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 2020 John West Great Swim 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.

If you would like to enter the 10k, click here >

Great East Swim 10k

What will the course be?

The 10k course will consist of 6 laps of the John West 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 John West 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 John West 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. 


Swim for Macmillan

We are proud to have Macmillan on board as the Official Charity for our John West Great Swim Series. If you're looking for ways to raise money for charity and you'd like to choose to swim for Macmillan all you need to do is click below:


Swim for Macmillan  

Swim for Macmillan

Suffolk Market Events

Suffolk Market Events

Suffolk Market Events deliver award winning farmers’ markets across Suffolk and we are delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with the John West Great East Swim.

Once again we'll be bringing a range of fantastic traders to Alton Water, providing hungry swimmers and spectators a chance to enjoy some of the region’s very best, locally produced food and drink.... and it's all unique to the John West Great East Swim!

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 one.

This year, the below traders will be at the John West Great East Swim:

  • Flying Chef - Hot Dogs
  • Hadleys Ice Cream 
  • Colne Valley Tea Co. - Tea, herbal and fruit blends; roasted coffees and cold drinks
  • Mac St Kitchen - Macaroni Cheese
  • Mena's Indian Banquet - homemade samosas, bhajis, paneer roll, naan, curries, spicepacks
  • Crepe de Paris - Sweet and savoury crepes including gluten free and veggie options; breakfast rolls; tea/coffee/hot choc and cold drinks.
  • Suffolk Coffee Pod - coffee, tea, hot and cold drinks.
  • Samu Kitchen - Salads, sandwiches, beetroot tarte tatin, shallot tart.
  • Dovecote Bakery - Artisan sourdough loaves, yeasted tins, chelsea/belgian buns
  • Alex's Artisan Bakery -  Homemade cakes, brownies, flapjacks, shortbread, rocky roads. 
  • YumYum Tree Fudge - Luxury fudge with samples and water and cashback.
  • Beachbox Café - Coffee, tea, hot and cold drinks.
  • Your Kitchen My Place - Gourmet burgers.
  • Fox in the Field - Fruit and Veg smoothies.
  • DHJ Events - Traditional lemonade, orange and lemon zing, iced lemon tea, mangle (lemon/orange/mango).
  • GoodtoGo - Salad jars including falafel/feta, granola/bircher pots, homemade snacks, energy bars and muffins.
Find Suffolk Market Events on Facebook and Twitter 

Farmers' Market


Click on the links below to download useful event information: