A new initiative called Beyond Swim has been launched to help provide the best possible open water experience.
The popularity of open-water swimming – and its proven physical and mental health benefits – has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic as people have adapted to restrictions by exercising in new ways.
Created by Triathlon England and supported by Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), the Beyond Swim initiative will enhance the safety of thousands of venues by providing swimmers with safe, enjoyable, and consistent experiences – regardless of ability.
Beyond Swim will provide accreditation for venues to ensure they comply with the highest standards of safety.
Andy Salmon, Chief Executive of Triathlon England, said: "Beyond Swim is all about establishing a network of venues across the country where safety is the first consideration.
"And it is also about creating a huge community of people who love open-water swimming, can go and connect with these accredited venues and be part of a wider open-water swimming family.
"The two fundamental pillars of Beyond Swim are providing safe venues and creating a community for open-water swimmers. This is about getting people into open-water swimming and sharing the joy of the sport.”
He added: “One of the benefits of Beyond Swim is that we can de-mystify, and take that apprehension out of people's minds, about getting involved in open-water swimming. It is about getting people really comfortable about getting into open water for a swim.
"Open-water swimming has something for everybody – and we're determined to make it completely accessible for everyone.”
Swimmers will receive high-quality experiences and industry-leading guidance at venues, with discounts being available at accredited waterways and lakes nationwide. They will also be able to choose from exclusive merchandise discounts after every 10 swims, with rewards such as planting trees or donating to charity also available.
Jon Glenn, Learn to Swim & Workforce Director at Swim England, believes prioritising safety will make a massive difference.
He said: "Open-water swimming makes you free and independent - and Beyond Swim will bring that open-water community together.
"I'll now know that if I go down to my local Beyond Swim centre, that the water quality is going to be okay, there's going to be a lifeguard and it's going to be run safely.
"We all want to make sure the sport is done in a nice, safe environment, and if we can help people make their way to those safe environments and enjoy open swimming there, then that's fantastic."
Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK, told Eurosport: "We feel it's really important to be able to support the growth of open-water swimming in a safe and considered way.
"We want to make sure people know they can go somewhere that's safe, well-managed and with safety considered to really help build a community.
"We want people to get into the water - and it's so crucial for us that the public feel confident to go and try these activities.
"Hopefully through Beyond Swim, people will see open-water swimming is a great activity to get involved in."