NOWCA’s Sub10 Club encourages new swimmers to try winter waters

New to winter swimming? NOWCA’s Sub10 Club invites newcomers to try cold water for the first time in a safe environment, with lifeguards on hand for advice and assistance. 

The temperature has really dropped in the past few weeks, with water temperatures in UK inland waters dropping below 10ºC for the first time this season. 

But don’t let that put you off swimming through the winter, says NOWCA, the UK’s largest network of safe open water venues. The message they are trying to share with newcomers is that open water swimming can be safe and enjoyable all year round, so long as you are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to stay safe. 

NOWCA’s introduced the Sub10 Club several years ago to enable cold water swimming in a safe environment. For those new to winter swimming, the Sub10 Club means you can swim at safely managed venues where there are often lifeguards on hand for advice, guidance and assistance. It’s also a chance to get to know other swimmers who are trying out winter swimming for the first time.  

Encouraging safe swim practices over the colder months

“Our Sub10 Club is a really fun but also important part of our winter swimming programme,” said Francesca ‘Chess’  Roffe Ridgard, NOWCA’s Head of Development. “We developed this Club a few years ago to encourage safe swim practices over the colder months, to support our affiliated venues, and to bring the cold water swimming community together.”

“ It was important to create an initiative that is safe, which is why our Sub10 Club doesn’t require completion of a specific distance or time. We reward swimmers for simply getting in the water. We’ve seen a massive increase in the number of swims from our last two seasons, and each year we have more venues wanting to join the Sub10 Club.” 

Ninety percent of the NOWCA affiliated venues that are open during this winter are participating in the Sub10 Club including Taplow Lakeside, St Andrews Lakes, Queenford Lakes, Manley Mere, H2O Reading Lake, Longside Lake Watersports, Pillaton Hall Farm, Watersedge Watersports, Chasewater Lake, Bicester Outdoor Swimming Lake, and various Love Open Water venues.

There is no joining fee or registration forms to fill out, however you do need to be a NOWCA member to take part. You simply book your swim at a participating venue and if the water temperature drops below 10°C for your swim, you will automatically be added to the Sub10 Club. Your swim will be recorded on the Sub10 scoreboard, which is published on the NOWCA website each month. 

As an extra bonus and to help keep participants motivated throughout the season, swimmers will receive a Sub10 badge every time they achieve a swim milestone in either the wetsuit or skins category (milestones for 10, 25 and 50 swims). 

A cold water course

Chess, who is a cold water lover herself, said: “Education is key to keeping yourself and others around you safe in the water. If you would like to test your cold water knowledge, you can take our Cold Water Swimming Master Quiz or the Mini Quiz. It’s free and a good way to find out how much you really know about the effects of cold water and whether it’s time to refresh your cold water swimming skills.” 

For those who are completely new to cold water swimming – or those who feel in need a refresher – NOWCA also offers a Cold Water Induction course. The course is available online and is made up of short modules, which means you can complete it at your own pace. You will learn about how cold water affects your body, identifying risks, how to manage your swim safely, and what equipment you’ll need. NOWCA’s online course costs £16.75 but members get 70% off at NOWCA Perks. 

Find out more about the Sub10 Club and find your nearest NOWCA venue. Some venues require swimmers to complete a Cold Water Induction before you can swim during winter so it’s important to check with your venue before booking.

Photos: (top)Taplow Lakeside; (below) Love Open Water

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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.