Who can swim at the West Reservoir?

The good news is that you don’t need to be a member to swim at the West Reservoir. You do, however, need to like cold water and be an experienced open water swimmer!

A favourite with Hackney hipsters and a lifesaver for swimming enthusiasts during lockdown, most would agree that the Reservoir is quite unique. It’s been an urban sailing and kayaking destination for years but has gained popularity over the past two years as an outdoor swimming spot when indoor sports centres were closed and swimming fans were desperate to get back to the water.

Set on the edge of Woodberry Wetlands in Stoke Newington, apartment blocks and other buildings overlook the vast expanse of water but you’ll find yourself swimming in blissful silence, barring the swish of water.

Safety at the Reservoir

Safety is the top priority. The numbers in the water are carefully regulated, with all swimmers following a 200m loop during the winter months or 450m in the summer. Lifeguards in kayaks keep watch over swimmers, positioned at intervals around the loop. There’s also a 100m warm-up lane to acclimatise. Red swim caps are compulsory and the use of tow floats recommended (several available to borrow for free).

Need to get warm? Round off your swim with a warming coffee in the café.

Facts & Figures

Non-members pay £10 per swim. Pre-booking essential via the Better UK app.

Children – minimum age 14. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Tow floats and and green swim caps mandatory.

Wetsuits are no longer compulsory when the water temperature is below 16 degrees but they are recommended if the temperature dips below 14 degrees.