In 2013, participants in the Great London Swim received a text message two days before the swim.
It read: “Urgent: Great London Swim has been moved to Millwall Dock due to water-quality issues.” Despite the last-minute change of venue, prompted by temporary Crossrail works that caused water issues, the event went ahead as if it was always planned to take place at Millwall.
Fast-forward to 2014. Again, the Great London Swim was beset by water quality issues. This time though the problems only manifested themselves the day before the event. It was too late to change venue and the swim was cancelled.
This year the Great London Swim returns to Royal Victoria Dock. And robust contingency plans are in place to prevent a repeat of 2014. Says Craig Barber of Great Swim: “We have the option of rolling the event over to Sunday should we need to. And an alternative venue to use if necessary, should we have sufficient notice to move the infrastructure.”
Why not hold the event in the River Thames? The lack of currents in the Dock make it a safer and less challenging swim for novice open water swimmers. And the choice of Royal Victoria Dock reflects Great Swim’s aim to grow the Great London Swim into the largest open water swim event in London. The Dock has the size and infrastructure to enable them to fulfil that ambition.
See also: Aqua Sphere extends commitment to Great Swim until 2018