Swim in river

I recently read about open water swimming and that the water quality at the river Wey (near to me) was fairly good.  I'm a fairly novice OW swimmer.  I usually do a kilometer at the lakes, sometimes more and always leave with gas in the tank. 

I was thinking about doing a section of the Wey, perhaps from just before St Catherine's Hill to the car park that leads into the main roundabout at the start of Guildford high street.  It's about 2Km.  I would have my stepson walking alongside the bank to help me, if I should need it image

Any thoughts?  Fun? image  Certain death? image Tell me what to do.  Run my life for me image

Seriously though, I don't mind a bit of risk, but wouldn't want to be doing something really stoooopid image  


  • FD, Go for it!  Here's a link to the OSS map if that's the area you're heading for!



  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Do it! 

  • Sounds like youre taking precautions, id say go for it.

    I would say make enquire whether its a known swimming / water sports location, even safe looking riders can have currents, hidden obstacles, weeds etc.


  • I guess the main question is do you believe your stepson would be able to help if you got into any serious trouble? If you are confident in his abilities and that he wouldn't panic should anything go wrong then as others have said, go for it.

  • It's a great question, and I've been meaning to ask people about this subject.

    I'm not sure what the precautions amount to.  If you went under, what would you expect your stepson to do?   Jump in? Or call 999 and wait 10+ minutes for a response?

    For me, I'm totally confused by why swimming in rivers and reservoirs takes so many lives... even strong swimmers.  I don't grasp what's going wrong.  I swam in rivers loads of times as a kid... big rivers... but I don't know now if I should be letting my daughter follow suit.

  • If you do it and I can fit it in, I'll walk the bank with you with a float on a rope if you like. Lifebelt if you can find one.

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Now there's an offer! I'm not farfrom the Wey. My understanding is that there is a part that is very popular with swimmers in the Summer around Guildford. Try the open water swimming society forum or their Facebook group, someone local with first hand knowledge might give you a bit of confidence and you'll find them there.

    With rivers in general, I swim the Arun and the Adur nd parts of the Thames and I've never had any problems or found them daunting to swim in though you obviOusly have to be aware of and avoid traffic, make sure you're visible and so on.


  • Thank you ever so much for your thoughts everyone.  So positive and helpful.

    Dustboy- thank you very much for your kind offer.  Chances are, my first go would probably just be a short one, so I'd hate to waste your time for a 15 minute swim.

    Snap- interesting to hear of your experience.  My impression of the Thames is that the water quality is poor and there are currents, so if that's worked out for you, it gives me confidence with my river.  I think getting in touch with the OSS might be a good move.

    If anyone would like to join me, feel free to get in contact image

  • SteadyCJSteadyCJ ✭✭✭

    I am nearish to Guildford, have never seen anyone swim in the river, have you found a place to get in and out at, that is easy. Snap makes a sensible suggestion along with Dustboy and his float on a rope idea.

    I thought that there was a weir at the end near to the bottom of Guildford High Street, by the theatre?  Is that near where all the boats for hire go from including the long/narrow boats?  Also what time of day would you go, as it may encourage idiots to try swimming in the river that are not as fit and able as yourself?

  • I can't remember which way the river flows in that part of town. Swim upstream away from the weir please!

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Well, you need to choose where you get in. 

    I need a flat. These come recommended: https://shopdesq.imgstg.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Product&CategoryID=3093&ProductID=31119&OrgID=10883

    Alternatively you could get a very big detergent bottle and paint it flourescent something or other and attach it with a piece of string. Seriously though, visibility is really important. Coloured swim hat (green or orange is best).

  • Runny Knows wrote (see)

    For me, I'm totally confused by why swimming in rivers and reservoirs takes so many lives... even strong swimmers.  I don't grasp what's going wrong.  I swam in rivers loads of times as a kid... big rivers... but I don't know now if I should be letting my daughter follow suit.

    Does it really?  we were bombarded by the press a couple of months ago telling us how many people had died in rivers and lakes.  How many of these were competent swimmers, knew what they were doing or took any precautions.

    Dont mean this to sound callous to those that lost their lives but almost without exception those dying are people who jump in to save a dog, a child, are drunk etc.  They are not 'swimmers'.

    Lakes & rivers are cold, even in summer, what looks like an easy 100 yards can be a long way if you try and swim to hard, get out of breath, your chest tightens due to the cold, etc.  There's also the cold panic people get when they jump in or go under, you only need a few mouthfuls of cold water & combined with panic then youre in trouble.

    Where I live there are about a dozen lakes, the council withdrew permission for the local tri club to swim a few years ago on account of a death /insurance concerns.  The death was a drunk man who thought it was a good idea to take a shortcut home at night in the middle of winter.  That was never going to end well but the nanny state meant the Council took the easy option.


  • Must admit, I was thinking about this last night and thought "weir" I also thought about water quality. NOWCA sites test their water before they let you swim in it. Common knowledge trick is the half bottle of Coke immediately after swim to kill the crap in the water you have just swallowed. (Well it worked for me at Outlaw)

    I love the fluorescent bottle on a string idea.

    I also thought about what a bloke on the side can do if it all goes tits up. Chucking a lifebelt in is one thing but if you have a wettie, on, you will float anyway so the purpose of the belt is to act as a winch for a conscious person in difficulty. Subject to the winch man anchoring themselves to not get pulled in.

    That aside, there is some risk in all walks of life and that is your call, but my offer still stands, 15 minutes or no. I don't live far that away and part of what we do here is to support others and encourage, albeit unoffficially. I am out of events till next year, so it would be nice to be involved for a short period to help out. I will however take the pissimage.

    If a few people fancied it, I could ask a guy I know if he wouldn't mind "standing guard" on the bank for an hour in exchange for a few bucks or something. He is a qualified lifeguard and a 10-11 hour Norseman. No promises though.

    I'll carry a couple of bottles of fat boy Coke for when you get out.


  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    They're still bombarding us - weren't their two people drowned in a reservoir two weeks ago? But BB makes a good point about lakes/rivers typically being colder than the sea. Worth bearing in mind while you decide whether to go skins or wettie.

    There are simple precautions and obvious hazards and your decision whether to swim or not and where should always err on the side of caution.

  • Dustboy wrote (see)

     Common knowledge trick is the half bottle of Coke immediately after swim to kill the crap in the water you have just swallowed. (Well it worked for me at Outlaw)


    which is an urban myth frankly.  Coke has a a very acidic pH which is why the myth emerged - the acid kills bugs.  Problem is that your stomach is naturally even more acidic (pH circa 2) - so any bug should get knocked out without the need to use Coke.

    if a bug is going to get past your stomach, it's going to get past - nothing you take after an O/W swim will alter that (bar a huge dose of antibiotics!!)

  • Dammit - I've been having my can of coke after every OW swim for years now ! I don't think I can change now !

    Re the swimming - I'd do as much research as I can before going in -




    Any use ?
  • FD - I think you'll need to recce your proposed course a little more.  I run along the river bank through the centre of (Guildford) town and it's all artificial banks.  There's no way of/where to pulling yourself out.  The weir is on one branch of the river, so I think it's avoidable.

  • I read recently that proprtionately a lot more people die in rivers & lakes whilst fishing than during swimming.

    As long as you take reasonable precautions, like just checking the river out first, access & egress points, the flow, water levels, things like weirs, other river users,.Not just jumping into the first bit of water you see.  If you are wearing a wetsuit you're very difficult to sink anyway. Water qaulity can be an issue, dont get in a within a few days of heavy rain, try to avoid know drain outfalls.

     I now use a chillswim drybag float on a leash around my waist. Can carry shoes & clothes, provides a very clear marker & could be used as a bouyancy aid.

  • I usually have someone walk the bank if i am swimming alone.but they have to be old enough to know and make decisions on what to do in ana emergency.......if they don't then you are being unfair to them to just be there to watch you die.....


    but i woukld recommend it to all.never got ill from swimming in the Taff which isn't the nicest of rivers.but i love it.....

    The coke thing is a myth but i still have a can straight after every swim.....just in case and i have never been illimage

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Slugs - I have a question... or two:

    How do you rate the Chillswim bag?

    What capacity do you have?

    Can it fit a pair of trainers, shorts, tshirt?

    Would you trust it with a mobile phone?

    Is it easy to carry? (ie, could I pack my wetsuit in it and jog home with it on my back?

    I'm thinking of getting one.

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Having unintentionally hijacked this thread, i'd just like to say to the OP:

    Do it. Be safe. Have fun.

  • Dustboy- if you can organise a get together, I'm 100% in.  Your Norseman mate sounds seriously overqualified for my couple of kilometres of frantic thrashing image  But yeah, if anyone else wants to come along- misery likes company image  Seriously though, it would be great.

    Ferrett- I haven't receed it at all yet.  I run it all the time, but I don't usually look at it with a mindset of swimming it.  What you're saying does sound right, I can't think of anywhere sensible at the Guildford end.  The only thing is, the banks are usually super high, so chances are there'd be something.  All sounds a bit monkey doesn't it image

    To all- everyone who's saying do research.... well that won't work out, because I don't really know what I'm doing.  Only really been swimming since the start of summer.  Just came back from Surrey Sports Park, having done a kilometer in a measly 21 minutes.  As for currents, tides and all that flow stuff- HGAFC image

    Snap- hijack away.  I've lost count of the threads I've derailed, so it's probably some for of Karms anyway image

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Cool. Let us know when you're going in. If it's a week day I might join you. and 21 mins for a klick is just fine. Middle of the pack i'd say!

  • If you don't know what you're doing then I'd not do rivers. Find an open water location that has some safety provisions - as you say - if you've not a clue then I dont think clueless and moving water are a brilliant combination.
  • http://www.h2openmagazine.com/editor-s-blog/is-sea-swimming-safer-than-inland-water-swimming.html

    Snap I got the medium 35 litre bag, yes no problem with a pair of trainers (size 12 here), shorts, t shirt towell. I almost trust it, although I do put car keys & phone in a seperate waterproof pouch inside the bag. There arent any carry straps to this bag, so it would be impractical for jogging, although easy to carry walking.

  • SteadyCJSteadyCJ ✭✭✭

    Cougie you do have a very valid point, I think that is why I have never thought about swimming in either the Wey or the Mole. I will stick to NOWCA approved places and put up with having to go early at the weekends.

    Although if an organised wildswim type event were to take place I would be interested.

  • Snap- I can do week days sometimes.  If anyone's interested, feel free to contact me.  I mean, it's not going to be a big deal.  Couple of kilometers at about the speed I mentioned (although I'm miles quicker with a wettie!). Couple of hours out of your day at most image I'm off the next couple of Saturdays too.

    n dot teddy (with an s in front of the last word) at sky dot com

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