Frequently Asked Questions

What challenges are available?

Open Water Swimathon is designed to suit all levels of fitness, ability and age.

Individual distances

The popular 500m option is a great choice if you're looking to try the open water for the first time, or if you haven't swum outdoors for a while. It's the equivalent of 20 laps of a 25m pool and will be the perfect introduction to the open water!

This distance is suitable for all abilities! If you fancy working your way up to what equals 60 lengths of 25m pool, whilst raising vital funds for our charities, then this is for you.
2.5k is the perfect event if you're after a longer challenge and have maybe tried a few open water swims before. Are you going to great lengths to get sponsored? Then the equivalent of 100 lengths of a 25m pool is for you. So jump in and make some proper fundraising waves.
Suited to experienced and confident swimmers, this is the ultimate open water challenge, considered to be a swimming half marathon! This distance will leave everyone (including you) breathless, so your efforts will be rewarded with lots of sponsorship.
Team distances: 

Take on this relay challenge with your friends, your family or your colleagues (2-5 swimmers per team). Split the distance however you like, this shorter distance is ideal for those new to open water swimming, or for getting the kids involved. Join forces in the open water and take your fundraising to a whole new level! 

Round up your open water-loving friends and take on this longer challenge together. Make up a team of 2 to 5 swimmers to tackle the ultimate Open Water Swimathon distance. Split it evenly between you or break down the distances according to your abilities and get everyone involved! As a team, you’ll reach your sponsorship goal and the glory!

Where is Open Water Swimathon held?

Open Water Swimathon is held at numerous venues across the UK. Find the full venues list here.

If you are unable to get to any of the host venues, or cannot make any of the listed session times, you can still take part through MySwimathon! Click here to find out more.

We plan to have many more venues taking part in 2019. If you swim at a different venue and would like for them to be part of Open Water Swimathon 2019, please visit our venues page and suggest a venue. It also might be worth popping down to your local venue and asking them in person if they'd be interested! 

How do I register?

Registration for Open Water Swimathon 2019 is now closed. 

How much does it cost to register?

Entry Type*   Standard EntryConcession**
Individual 500m, 1.5k, 2.5k & 5k £17.00£12.75
Team 1.5k & 5k£34.00£25.50

* Applies to Distance Challenges and MySwimathon
** Denotes concessionary price for unemployed, under 16s, disabled, full-time students and senior citizens aged 60 years and above. For team concessions, the majority (over half) must fall into one of these categories to qualify for the concessionary price. Teams are not separated into age specific categories. Please note: concession discount does not apply to already discounted entry prices.

When does registration close?

Swimmer registration for Open Water Swimathon 2019 closes at 11:59pm on Wednesday 4 September.

Can I get any training advice?

It is very important to train before your open water swim and whether you're new to the open water or an experienced open swimmer, we're here to support you every stroke of the way! 

Visit our top tips page for exclusive guides on how to make the transition from pool to pond, how to choose your first outdoor swim and what to expect the first time you take your swimming outdoors. You can also check out Open Water Swimathon's amazing top tips and common mistakes to avoid!

Our 6 week training plans, which have been written by Tom Bromley from Swim Open will be released soon.

What are the rules?

Click here to view the Open Water Swimathon rules.

How many people can make up a team?

Teams can be made up of 2-5 people.

How do I know what speed to register myself/my team under?

Here's a rough guide to help when entering your Open Water Swimathon speed...

500m 45mins+30mins15min
1.5k1.5hrs+   1hr   sub 30min
2.5k2hrs+  1.5hrs sub 1hr
5k2.5hrs+ 2hrs       1.5hrs                   

How long will I have to complete my swim?

Individual swimmers and teams will have 3 hours to complete their Open Water Swimathon challenge no matter which distance they have signed up for. If you have any queries around completing your swim in under 3 hours please liaise with the venue directly.

Will I receive a medal?

All swimmers will receive a medal for completing their challenge. Those taking part in an organised Swimathon session will receive their medal immediately after their swim. Those taking part in MySwimathon will be sent a medal via post after uploading their challenge time online. Please note, 5k medals will only be given to those who complete the individual 5k challenge. 

Will I receive a certificate?

All swimmers will be able to download their personal certificates from their Swimmer Login area after the event.

What happens if I can't attend any of the sessions at the venues listed?

Don’t forget, if you are unable to get to any of the host venues, or cannot make any of the listed session times, you can still take part through MySwimathon from Friday 30 August – Sunday 15 September! Click here to find out more.

We plan to have many more venues taking part in 2019. If you swim at a different venue and would like for them to be part of Open Water Swimathon 2019, please ask them to get in touch with us by emailing

I'd like to swim more than once over different days...

You are more than welcome to swim in as many organised Open Water Swimathon sessions as you wish over the event weekend. For each place that you require, you will need to create a new registration, paying the entry fee for each place. We then suggest that you only use one of your fundraising pages when sending your link out for sponsorship. You can mention in your 'personal message' that you are taking on more than one challenge.

I can no longer take part in the event. Will I get my money back?

As stated in our T&Cs, the entry fee for Open Water Swimathon 2019 is non-refundable and non-transferable.

Can I change from an individual to a team registration and vice versa?

As stated in the Terms and Conditions, if you have registered as an individual entry, it is not possible to change this to a team entry. You will need to re-register as a team and contact Open Water Swimathon to cancel your individual entry. 

If you have registered as a team entry, it is not possible to change this to an individual entry. You will need to re-register as an individual and contact the Open Water Swimathon team to cancel your team entry. A refund will not be given for your first entry.

How can I check if I have set up my Open Water Swimathon JustGiving page?

You can check if your JustGiving page has been set up through your swimmer profile area. Follow the below steps to check yours.

  1. Log in to your profile.
  2. Click on 'Manage My Challenge' in your Open Water Swimathon profile area
  3. Select 'Fundraising' on the menu on the left-hand side.
  4. If you have set up a JustGiving page you will be given the option to ‘View Fundraising Page’. If you have not, select ‘Create Fundraising Page’ and follow the steps.

I didn’t set up my Open Water Swimathon JustGiving page when I registered, how can I set one up?

If you didn’t set up your JustGiving page when you registered it is not too late. You can set up yours now by firstly logging in to your swimmer profile area. Follow the below steps to set up your JustGiving page.

  1. Click on 'Manage My Challenge' in your Open Water Swimathon profile area
  2. Select 'Fundraising' on the menu on the left-hand side
  3. Enter your JustGiving page name and URL (the bit that will follow, do not use any spaces or punctuation when creating your URL
  4. If you receive an error message stating the ‘URL is unavailable’ this means it has already been taken, please try again with a more unique name
  5. You will then automatically be sent to the JustGiving website to either login to your account (if you already have one) or create a JustGiving account
  6. Once authorised, you will head back to the Open Water Swimathon website to complete your registration
  7. Then you're done and ready to start sharing your JustGiving page!

How do I share my JustGiving page with my friends, family and colleagues?

To find your Open Water Swimathon JustGiving page go to the fundraising section of your swimmer login area. You can find this on the left-hand menu once you’ve clicked ‘Manage My Challenge’. Click ‘View Fundraising Page’ at the bottom of the page to go to your JustGiving page. Share the URL with your friends and family by simply copying and pasting the URL to email and social media to get donations and raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

Where does the money go?

Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie will receive an equal share of at least 70% of the total funds raised by Open Water Swimathon. The Swimathon Foundation will receive the balance of the funds raised by the Open Water Swimathon participants which it uses to fund its operating expenses as the owner of the Open Water Swimathon Event and to offer Swimathon Foundation Community Grants to promote swimming participation in communities.

Is my donation for Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK when I register added to my JustGiving page?

The donation for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie you can make before the payment page of your registration will not be added to your JustGiving page when you have set it up. If you wish for the donation to count towards your fundraising rewards, please set up your JustGiving page first and donate the amount directly on that.

How can we link our team’s JustGiving pages together?

To create a team page, your team captain should login to their swimmer profile area here. Within the ‘Fundraising’ menu they can select to create a team JustGiving page by linking all team members pages. Please note donations must still be made on each team member's JustGiving page and not on the team’s page.

Can I fundraise for any charity?

The official charity partners of Open Water Swimathon 2019 are Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie. Participants of the event should fundraise for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie only.

Where can I find the offline fundraising sponsorship form?

If you are taking part in Open Water Swimathon and want to collect money in person, click here to download a sponsorship form.

Don’t forget that you can pay in any cash you have collected into your JustGiving page when they are up and running using a credit or debit card.

Please note that only online fundraising through a Open Water Swimathon JustGiving page is counted towards your qualification for a fundraising reward.

Where shall I send my offline fundraising?

Cheques will need to be made payable to either Cancer Research UK or Marie Curie and sent to one of the below addresses: 

Open Water Swimathon Team 

Cancer Research UK 

PO Box 1561 

Oxford OX4 9GZ   


Open Water Swimathon Team

Marie Curie 

PO BOX 23897 

14 Links Place 

Edinburgh EH6 9AB

There will also be the option to pay in offline income at your local Marie Curie charity shop.

Are there any fundraising rewards?

Yes! Fundraise £100+ through your JustGiving page for an exclusive Open Water Swimathon 2019 t-shirt. *

Team fundraising is based on raising an average of £100+ per team member for t-shirts. Terms and conditions apply.

* Fundraising must be with the Open Water Swimathon by Monday 30 September. Please note that only online fundraising is counted towards your qualification for a fundraising reward. Offline fundraising sent to our PO Box will not be considered for incentive rewards.

If I qualify for a reward, when will I receive it?

Participants that have raised £100+ on their JustGiving page by Monday 30 September will receive an Open Water Swimathon 2019 t-shirt. These will be sent out shortly after this date and will be with you by the end of October.

Please see terms and conditions for full details of fundraising rewards.

Is there an age limit?

Each venue has their own minimum age requirements, which are highlighted in the registration process.

Can I take part in Open Water Swimathon if I have epilepsy?

It is recommended that swimmers with a history of epilepsy should ‘buddy’ up so that there is another swimmer alongside them. If a swimmer has been seizure free for a year they can compete as normal. 

The venue I am swimming at says I need to have a NOWCA wristband, how can I get one?

Some of our venues are affiliated with NOWCA, which is an open water safety and management system. If you are swimming at a NOWCA venue, you will be required to order a wristband prior to the event. The wristbands are re-usable any time you swim at a NOWCA venue and will provide you with a record of your time every time you swim. You need to purchase your NOWCA wristband in advance of the event here for a one-off fee of £12. Make sure to specify the venue you will be swimming at and the wristband will be there when you arrive.

We will contact all those that this applies to in due course.

Your NOWCA wristband tracks your swim performance, it's exactly the same as wearing a chip at a triathlon. Everything is recorded online for you and from here you'll be able to manage your leisure swimming and racing profile. You receive a personal email with your swim stats every time you swim.