Open water swimming in Plymouth Sound

1 Sep 2021

The physical and mental health benefits of Open Water Swimming can not be disputed. Plymouth welcomes swimmers who are respectful and swim within the designated swim areas, clearly buoyed and marked. 

Please note that as a busy port and shipping lane the Cattewater is NOT one of these designated areas – we have received multiple incident reports from ship’s masters and pilots involving swimmers impeding the navigation of large commercial ships within the Cattewater.

Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming have an excellent website that clearly shows Plymouth Sound swim zones and further details on joining an ever growing community of open water swimmers for safety and support.

QHM has also published a PLNTM for local bathing areas.

We’d also like to highlight the very real possibility of cold water shock – we have been in touch with one lady who last week started to show symptoms whilst swimming here in Plymouth. With her permission we are sharing her experience:

“At home I was thinking –  oh it’s August, it’s the South West, it won’t be that cold. I’m a confident swimmer. So. Got in no probs and was having a lovely time with Y (name redacted for confidentiality) and T (name redacted for confidentiality). We didn’t go far when T said we should head back as it was my first time in for a while. At that point I would have gone further. So we headed back. All fine. Halfway back I suddenly, and it was sudden, felt cold, as if I had swam into a cold current. Then my vision went ‘funny’. I knew something was up so started swimming faster to get things moving and ‘warm up’. I knew I had to get out. Once out I felt sick and faint so got on the floor to get my head lower. Just got worse from there and from what the group say I was in and out of making sense. I think my lips and fingers were going blue I was shaking a lot but was aware of people being concerned. When the paramedics arrived and checked my temperature it was 34.4C so hypothermic. I did feel very peculiar and unwell, confused and actually resigned to thinking ‘Well this is it then! This is how it ends.’ Once in the ambulance they covered me in a heated blanket, cranked up the heating and my temperature gradually came back to normal. I felt a bit stupid to be honest. Moral of the story – don’t be cocky with nature (that was the polite moral).”

We’re pleased to say the lady has made a full recovery. 

For more information about Cold Water Shock please visit the RNLI website page here.