Swimming Events Guide 2024

Is it safe to swim in reservoirs?

Take part in a new independent survey to gather information about how safe – or risky – it is to swim in UK reservoirs. 

Is it safe to swim in reservoirs? The truth is, we don’t actually know for sure. There is little or no reliable public information about reservoir hazards, says the team behind a new independent survey.

“Reservoir operators do not have this information or do not share it publicly,” writes the team behind the ‘Swimmers’ Reservoir Hazards Survey’. “However, they often prohibit swimming, based on known or claimed hazards that cannot be seen. Many swimmers mistrust claims about ‘underwater machinery’ and other hazards, but lack reliable information or evidence to counter these claims and keep themselves safe. This survey recognises that swimmers are a powerful force for ‘crowdsourcing’ the information we need.”

Take the survey

A dry summer is a great time for people to gather information about potential hazards in reservoirs that may affect swimmers. The survey involves visiting your local reservoir and documenting hazards and signage, then answering questions online after your visit.

Survey aims

  • Swimmers will be able to keep themselves safer with the findings from this survey.
  • The findings will be collated and made public, to provide reliable evidence (including photographs) about reservoir hazards, or the lack of them.
  • The information may also help swimmers to negotiate better swimming access, particularly at their local reservoirs. 

Finding out the results

Fiona Weir, an independent researcher and an outdoor swimmer, designed the survey in collaboration with members of the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Inland Access Group. Fiona is a member of the Social Research Association and follows its research ethics guidance. This survey is being carried out by individual volunteers for the benefit of our swimming community as a whole. No-one is being paid for any part of this survey. 

After the survey is complete, the information will be collated and analysed by a team of volunteer researchers. Findings will then be made public. 

Find out more about the survey by clicking this link. The survey closes at the end of August 2022.

Photo: Mat Fascione

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.