Five things we’re looking forward to at this weekend’s Henley Swim Festival

There’s so much more to do at the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival (13-14 July 2024) besides swimming this iconic stretch of the River Thames. Here are the top five things we’re looking forward to this weekend.

Celebrating 20 years of Henley Swim beside the river

It’s been 20 years since Tom Kean and Jeremy Laming made their first clandestine swim along the regatta course. They had no idea that open water swimming would explode as a sport, and that they would be at the forefront of it. This Saturday evening, festival goers will be gathering beside Temple Island Meadows on the River Thames to celebrate the anniversary with a supervised evening dip in the Lido, live music, food, drink and – of course – cake. Everyone is welcome, parking is free, so come on down between 6pm and 9pm to celebrate with the Henley Swim team.

Taking a cold water dunk in an ice bath

Celebrity wellbeing advisor and founder of Breatheolution, Kevin O’Neill will be offering visitors the chance to take part in transformative breathwork and cold water therapy sessions. With ice baths and saunas on site, Kevin will be guiding visitors through the therapeutic benefits and techniques to show you how to help reduce stress, improve mental clarity and boost your overall well-being. Find Kevin at the Exhale Coffee Wellness area. 

A chance to try before you buy

Buying swimwear and kit online has its limitations. Come along to the Retail Village at the Henley Swim Festival and you can try before you buy, and speak with the brands and their knowledgeable teams for expert advice before you make your next purchase. Expect your favourite independent brands such as Deakin & Blue, SOUL CAP, COOTS London and Wild Moose alongside leading swimming and open water brands such as ORCA and Zoggs

A dip in the Lido

The supervised Lido is a real highlight of the Henley Swim Festival, a chance to take a dip in the Thames with the security of a lifeguard on hand. But there’s much more going on here, including synchronised swimming displays and the chance to play around on the water with zorbs, water rollers, aquabikes and Water-Peddlerz. We’re looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere at this bustling spot this weekend!

Explore the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside by paddleboard

This year, The SUP Life will be offering 40-minute paddleboarding lessons, paddling upstream from the festival site into the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside. It’s a chance to get a unique perspective on the river and a break from the riverbank hustle and bustle. Suitable for 8 years and over, with no experience required and buoyancy aid included, the sessions can be booked in advance and cost £22pp (age 8+). As SUP lessons often cost around £40, this is a fantastic way to try out paddleboarding for the first time and to explore the area around Temple Island Meadows from the river.

Join us this weekend for the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival. Festival entry is FREE all weekend and you don’t need to book – except to participate in one of our swims where pre registration and payment can be made on the website. Swimming events from £30, camping £21 in advance and paddleboarding sessions for £22. Camping from 3pm Friday 12 July. Festival from 2pm Saturday 13 July. All in-river events Sunday 14 July 2024. Find out more.

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.