Open water swimming returns to Bristol Harbour

Following the success of our Bristol Harbour swimming pilot earlier this year, we have been working with local partners All-Aboard Water Sports, Open Minds Active CIC, and Swim Bristol Harbour to look at options for continuing these open water swim sessions.

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities, spoke to local and national media during our initial test swim in March, when we launched the Harbour swimming pilot.

Our spring pilot swims were hugely popular receiving a total of 920 bookings and all sessions selling out in advance. Initial feedback from the more than 650 swimmers was very positive with the majority being very satisfied with their Harbour swimming experience and keen to return for more sessions in the future.

I’m delighted that we’re now able to bring another round of public swim sessions to the harbour for four more weekends starting on 9 September.

The swim sessions will run as they did during the pilot earlier this year – 8am to 10am Saturdays and Sundays in Baltic Wharf, this time for a fee of £7.50 per person, covering the costs of improving the registration system with wristbands on top of the provision of water safety measures. All swim sessions must be booked in advance via the Wild booking platform.

These additional sessions will allow us to monitor interest in swims during the cooler months, as we move towards the Autumn, alongside costs, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment throughout our harbour.

Bristol Harbour is pictured, open water swimmer are seen, surrounded with safety equipment for the safe swimming pilot.

Together with other members of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership, our harbour staff will continue to monitor any unpermitted swimming and other dangerous behaviour of people entering the water outside of the harbour swimming arrangements, helping to prevent accidents and maintain a safe waterway.

If demand and interest in the swims continues, and we’re able to maintain a safe and financially self-sustaining open water swimming area in Bristol Harbour, we will look into options for how we can provide swim sessions on a regular basis for Spring/Summer 2024.

Please remember that outside of the permitted harbour swimming times and the designated area, it remains unsafe and against the bylaws to swim in the Harbour, Cumberland Basin, or other waterways in Bristol. Our city’s many pools continue to offer swimming all year-round.

If you would like to volunteer to be part of the team setting up and running the swimming sessions, please email – there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

An open water swimmer is pictured with Bristol harbour in the background. Safety equipment for open water swimming can be seen.