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Open water swimming


Safety advice for open water swimming from British Triathlon.

Detailed guidance about outdoor swimming in different conditions from the Outdoor Swimming Society. There are guides on swimming in different temperatures: summer / cold water / ice, types of water: rivers / lakes & quarries / sea, etc.

Check water quality of the River Dee and around the UK coastline with the Safer Seas Service Interactive Map, plotting CSOs (combined sewage overflows).

Check the tides in the rivers and around the coast at Natural Resources Wales. This shows the flow of the water – the peaks are high tides which change the direction of the flow. It is not recommended to swim in the Dee when the flow is reversed.

River Dee safety tips for swimmers

Report from a meeting of various user groups to discuss safety on the River Dee: 2024.04.02 – Safety for all users of the River Dee

If you are new to swimming on the River Dee and fancy going in for a dip (or a long swim), then always remember:

  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Don’t swim alone – why not join the Chester Tri WhatsApp group to find a fellow swimmer:
  • 🚨 Always wear a brightly coloured hat and tow-float and keep a watch-out for boat traffic.
  • 🚣‍♂️ Best place to swim is from Eccleston Ferry as this is least busy with boat traffic.
  • 🚣‍♂️ Friday night is the quietest night on the river for rowing boats so must be the best time for swimmers. 😊
  • 🚣‍♂️ Swim on the left-hand side of the river, as you will then be facing any boat traffic coming towards you.
  • ✅ If the flow is low, then swim upriver against the flow and then have a speedy swim back to the car park.
  • ✅ Watch out for overhanging branches and anything under the water to avoid getting snagged.
  • 🌊 Because of high tides every 2 to 5 days each month, the direction of flow on the river changes. This can be impossible to swim against so always check the tide tables. As a rule of thumb, if the tide is over 9m in Liverpool then the water will flow over the weir at Chester and reach as far up as Eccleston Ferry and beyond. So don’t get caught out and learn where to get out of the river just in case (consider carrying footwear in your tow-float.
  • ✅ Check the water level of the river here 
  • ⛴ Give the Lady Diana and Mark Twain a wave as they go by but remember these river cruisers take a long time to stop, so don’t get in the way.
  • 💩 If you’re worried about pollution in the river then download the Surfers Against Sewage app which updates if there has been a discharge alert.  Rule of thumb is don’t swim after rain as this is most likely when there is an alert and potential for run-off from the fields and storm drains.
  • 💙 Have a great time swimming in a beautiful river, enjoy the dragonflies and kingfishers as they dart past your head and most of all look after our river so it is there for everyone to enjoy.

Local Venues

Our most local venue is the River Dee at Eccleston. However, this is unmanned and only recommended if you are familiar with the river and the risks. If you plan to swim in the river, we recommend swimming with others – you might find a buddy to swim with on the club’s OW what’s app group. We also suggest to use the emergency contact sheet where everyone can log their details, just in case:

River Dee swim emergency contact details Google sheet

Here are some of our other local open water swim venues, please check their websites and facebook pages for details:

Open water coached swim sessions

Local venues offering open water coached sessions:

Morris Multisport Coaching at Manley Mere, book here

WESWIMRUN at Princes Dock, Liverpool

Special offer for CTC members – sign up to one of our Introduction to Open Water Swimming Courses (about 45 min in the water, group size 10 max, £12.50pp) and you will receive a free swim session (normally £5). Details & booking here.

1-1 coaching is also available at £32pp.

Previous open water coached swim sessions

Swim & picnic at Wildshore Delamere July 2023
Swim & picnic at Wildshore Delamere July 2023

Swim & picnic at Wildshore Delamere July 2023

Swim & picnic at Fourways Quarry, Oakmere

It was brilliant thanks to all the organisers!

Lovely venue and lovely food. Thank you for organising.

It was fantastic! Thank you v much. The food was yummy, thank you for the time and effort you spent on it. Looking forward to the next one.

Thank you for great evening in the sunshine. Well organised and I found the coaching tips really helpful…yes my triceps now ache!!

Big thanks to all involved, lovely swim and picnic – great end to a sunny weekend even if I wasn’t quite brave enough to go in without my wetsuit!!