The Big Cotswold Swim took part on 16th September 2017 at 8.30am. Taking part in the beautiful Cotswold Water park.

Swimmers have a choice of 1 or 2 mile laps of the lake. With the race entry you got:

-Chip timing

-Medal at finish

-A swim hat to determine which wave you were in (for the mile it was a lovely red one!)


The swim is one big lap of the clear gravel bottomed lake for the 1 mile race and 2 laps for the 2 mile race.

The route was fairly simple and straightforward, you just had to follow the big yellow buoys. Following the big loop, there were swimmers everywhere that you could follow and kayakers that would show you the way.

They make it very clear that you have to keep swimming when you get past the island to get to the yellow buoy in the distance. Getting around this island was probably the harder part of the course. It was a little bit choppy and for some reason felt like you were just swimming slower at this section of the course.

The only section that caused confusion was the last buoy before the final 100m. You had to get the yellow boy to make a left turn to a pink buoy that was going away from the finish. A few people skipped this pink buoy and went straight to the finish, others skipped the yellow buoy and went straight to the pink. It was quite clear and obvious but when you are swimming in the route.

The end section was very clearly marked with a big finishing sign and two marshals in the water screaming and waving to the swimmers coming in. This was also the bit that those swimming the 2 mile route would continue around.

Very simple to follow, a great route.


The race started at 8:30 on a beautiful cold morning, the sun was reflecting on the lake which was a total of 15 degrees.

Wetsuits were strongly recommended for this race but you were allowed to go in without if you chose to. I think I only saw one man without a wetsuit. You weren’t allowed to wear boots or socks on your feet – I spent most of the race thinking how cold my feet were!

We were able to warm up 5 minutes before the race but then had to get out for a bit of a long briefing. The lady was making sure that we knew the route but repeated it a few times and by this stage, we were wet and getting cold standing out in the air. She was stood in the group rather than in front of all of us and was just kind of pointing at places which I think some people got confused about. Once you were in the water it was pretty clear.

The race set off and it was a mass start, which was a bit hectic. You had to run/walk into the water and start swimming, you didn’t start in the water. People were swimming on top of each other, you couldn’t swim faster or slower because someone would swim on you. It was like this until past the first buoy which was met with people swimming on my legs.

The rest of the race was pretty calm, if you stuck to your pace and your route everything went smoothly and you didn’t need to worry about anything else.

The only downside I would say was on the final stretch, the sun was out and reflecting against the water which made it very hard to see the buoys. I did have to keep suddenly stopping for a second to see where I needed to go. It was great the sun was out because it was warm when you finished, but you just struggled to see the way you were going.

The finish was good, they were saying the names over the tannoy and cheering you on as you ran over the finish line.

Personal race

I went into this race just wanting to enjoy it, I haven’t competed in a open water race before in a unfamiliar lake/open water, and so I was aiming to just finish it and have a good swim.

The first part of the race was a bit hectic, I got caught up in the mass and couldn’t swim anywhere properly without swimming on top of other swimmers or getting swam on top of. Even the first buoy I had a few people almost crawling/swimming over me and my legs until it started to spread out towards the second buoy.

I have always had a bit of a fear of unknown open water and when I have done all my previous training it has been in the same places that I am familiar with. The lake was fine though, it was sandy(ish) at the bottom and there were no obvious weeds floating around. I didn’t panic during this whole race, I put my head down, closed my eyes (yes I swim with my eyes closed!) and just swam and enjoyed it.

I don’t know what I was doing by the 2nd corner but I was going on a little bit of an adventure, I had the buoy in my sites but closer I got, the more I realised I was really far out from it. I could see the kayakers coming towards me to show me the right way, I was never too far out as I could still see swimmers close to me. I had just taken my own route but made sure for the rest of it that I kept closer to the line.

I carried on swimming in a straightish line for the rest of the race, following two guys, one in a orange wetsuit and one in a green who kept me in line for the rest of it.

I had a really good race, I was enjoying it and swam front crawl for the whole thing with no resting. I felt like I was swimming faster and stronger, I just was really enjoying it all! I saw the finish line and decided to try and do a fast/sprint finish. It was great because of the two guys shouting and waving to show the finish really helped for that final sprint.

I don’t think my family were expecting me to come over the finish line when I did, they were unprepared and didn’t get any photos! I wanted to keep swimming a bit further in but the 3 people in front of me all stood up and started walking, so I couldn’t go any further and had to stand up and run too. The final sprint over the finish line was great as your name was read over the tannoy and you were rewarded with your medal.

I would definitely do this race again, it was well run, a beautiful day and a great race. This is good for all abilities, ages and times!