Swim in river

Should I do it?

1 to 20 of 28 messages
27/08/2013 at 21:34

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 

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

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

27/08/2013 at 21:46

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



27/08/2013 at 21:50

Do it! 

Bouncing Barlist    pirate
27/08/2013 at 22:06

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.


Symes    pirate
27/08/2013 at 23:18

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.

27/08/2013 at 23:23

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.

Dustboy    pirate
28/08/2013 at 00:32

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.

28/08/2013 at 04:25

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.


28/08/2013 at 05:24

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 

28/08/2013 at 08:03

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?

Cortina5    pirate
28/08/2013 at 08:55

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

28/08/2013 at 09:14

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).

Bouncing Barlist    pirate
28/08/2013 at 09:41
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.


Edited: 28/08/2013 at 09:44
Dustboy    pirate
28/08/2013 at 10:20

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 piss.

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.


28/08/2013 at 10:23

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.

28/08/2013 at 10:49
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!!)

Edited: 28/08/2013 at 10:49
cougie    pirate
28/08/2013 at 11:11
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 ?
28/08/2013 at 11:19

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.

28/08/2013 at 14:10

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.

seren nos    pirate
28/08/2013 at 14:14

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 ill

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