When thinking of places to swim during the summer in London, your mind inevitably jumps to one of the many outdoor lidos scattered about the place. After all, we are not blessed to be a city by the sea; like a Barcelona or a Lisbon; nor can we boast many lakes nearby for wild swimming.
Your mind, probably, does not jump to the River Thames, and yet it has now fallen into our palms as a real option this summer heatwave. Yes, part of the Canary Wharf docks has just been opened up as a clean space for outdoor swimming.
It’s the first open swimming space at Canary Wharf, and anyone in the area hoping to swap one kind of suit for another can make a quick change and dive into the 600m area at the middle dock.
As you’re practising your front crawl you’ll be treated to views of One Canada Water and Newfoundland, and it’s open to swimmers of all abilities (over the age of 10) until the end of September. Open water swimming is one of the fastest growing activates in the UK, and this initiative comes from swimming operator Love Open Water, as well as the Canal & River Trust.
NOWCA supports the project in their network of safe open water venues, and will rigorously test the waters (literally) twice a month to ensure it keeps to their “excellent” rating by EU bathing standards.
Speaking of NOWCA, you’ll need a membership with them to access this space. A year pass will cost you £15 for a year, which is probably more than worth a few dips in the open water across this never-ending heatwave. It’ll also grant you access to 40 different NOWCA-affiliated locations across the UK. Sessions run through the week and weekends and cost £8, although there are regular free events offered by NOWCA.
You’ll find the middle dock access area across the pontoon from Humble Grape on Mackenzie Walk, where you’ll also spot huts for changing in. After your swim, you can carry on your day with one of the many activities Canary Wharf has to offer, from a outdoor art trail to an open-air cinema to tasty street food.
Rick Kiddle, Founder and CEO of NOWCA said: “Our aim is to help make open water more accessible, to more people, and most importantly more safely. We support over 40 venues nationwide with our safety systems and we have worked with Love Open Water for a decade now.
“We are really excited to be part of this fantastic new venue at Canary Wharf as it will open more swimming possibilities in the East London area.”
All sessions will be lifeguarded and anyone over the age of 10 can swim here. You can book and pay online via the ACTiO app.