Bristol’s Floating Harbour wild swimming returns next month

Swimmers will once again be able to pay to make a splash at Bristol Harbour this summer. All Aboard Watersports, a charity for water-based activities, sealed a deal with Bristol City Council to deliver Open Water Swimming in the Floating Harbour.

It means wild swimmers will be permitted to take a dip without breaking the law - but only if they book onto designated sessions in a particular part of the harbour, where swims will be "safely managed". The move comes after two pilot schemes last year, following pressure from campaigners to make better use of Bristol's iconic waterway.

Swims will return on Saturday, June 15, taking place every Saturday and Sunday morning between 8am and 10am. The cost will continue to be £7.50 per person, which will cover the planning and running of the sessions, including the provision of water safety measures.

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Similar to last year’s swims, the designated course will start at Baltic Wharf, just off Cumberland Road, near All Aboard’s Centre. The water quality will be tested weekly to ensure it meets bathing water standards.

Simon Chapman, All Aboard Chair of Trustees said: ‘We are delighted to add swimming to the activities we deliver on the water. Our participation in the trials last year and our extensive water-based activities provide confidence that we can safely deliver a great swim event.

“Any surplus income will help fund our charitable aim: breaking down barriers and making it possible for everyone in our community to participate in watersports.”

Luke Hoather, All Aboard Watersports operations director, said: “Safety and fun are our priorities. This is a great opportunity for our community to swim in the Harbour in a safe and fun environment and experience the many benefits of open-water swimming. We can only do this with the help and goodwill of the Open-Water Swimming Community, and we ask that they get in touch with us if they wish to volunteer. “

If you’d like to get involved and volunteer to help run the swim sessions email Jemma Corbett at

John Smith, executive director of growth and regeneration at Bristol City Council, said: “It’s excellent news that open water swim sessions will resume in Bristol’s harbour this summer, following our hugely successful trial swims last year, which saw over 650 swimmers take a dip in Baltic Wharf. We’re delighted to welcome back local charity All Aboard Watersports following their successful bid to secure the harbour swimming contract. We are confident they will bring their local knowledge and experience to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

“Outside of these arrangements, which provide professional safety supervision and direction, and without prior consent from the Harbour Master, it remains unsafe and against the bylaws to swim in the Harbour, Cumberland Basin, or other waterways in Bristol. Maintaining a safe waterway for all harbour users is our priority and must not be compromised by behaviour ignoring the potential dangers of entering the city’s waterways.”

Details on booking a swim, what to bring, facilities available and staying safe in the water can be viewed on our website,