With the pandemic shutting down many other avenues of exercise, people have turned to open-water swimming for a refreshing workout. It’s no surprise that this has seen an increase in popularity over the last few years as more and more people are starting to appreciate the invigorating rush that comes from taking a dip in natural bodies of water.
If you live in Hampshire and find yourself searching for the best place to swim with the summer fast approaching, we've got you covered. Compiled here is our list of top spots for a cooling swim across Hampshire. Make sure, however, when engaging in open-water swimming to always be aware of potential dangers and hazards, or even better go with someone who knows how to stay safe while doing it.
Location: Southsea, Portsmouth
Supervised?: In summer
Beach type: Shingle
Southsea beach, located between Old Portsmouth and Eastney, boasts almost 4 miles of beautiful coastline perfect for a quick swim. To ensure safety, the beach is patrolled by lifeguards between the Pyramids and Eastney Beach during summer months, making it the ideal spot to take a dip. It is important to keep an eye out for any warning signs and swim only between the red and yellow flags, as is recommended on any beach.
However, there are some areas of Southsea Beach that are not suitable for swimming. It is advised to avoid swimming at Blue Reef Aquarium and Hovertravel. Additionally, it is worth noting that the beach slopes rapidly into the sea, which can lead to sudden depth changes. As such, unless you are a confident swimmer prepared for the colder and deeper water, it is recommended to stay close to the shore.
Beach type: Shingle/sand
Milford Beach in the New Forest area of Hampshire is a great spot for a swim. We recommend Hurst Road and Hordle Cliff West car parks as great areas to start from or take breaks due to their convenience, spectacular views of the Isle of Wight, and perfect spots for swimming. However, because there are no lifeguards on duty and the waves can quickly change tides and swell in size, it's extremely necessary to be sure of the conditions before taking your plunge. Doing so will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at this beach.
Beach type: Salt-marshes
Tanners Lane swimming spot in New Forest is a great spot to dip into the sea. Unlike its counterpart beaches, it does not have golden sand or sun loungers but instead houses rockier terrain. In line with this, it’s best to swim here at high tide because when the tide is out it can get too muddy and far for any pleasant swimming experience. Several precautions must be taken if you choose to swim in the waters of Tanners Lane the lack of facilities such as lifeguards require extra level of attention from swimmers, and wearing shoes would make it much more comfortable while entering and exiting the water. Get ready to explore and experience one of the New Forest area’s most well-kept secrets.
Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1200m
Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap and a wetsuit or tow float/bag
From April to October, take a plunge into the crystal-clear waters of Ellingham lake with the Ellingham Water Ski and Wakeboard Club. No matter your experience level, everyone is welcome for a swim, whether it’s a leisurely dip or something lengthier. If you're looking to go on loops with varying distances of 400m, 750m and 1200m, you'll need to be a registered member of NOWCA app which allows you to pre-book your swim and use a wristband. Furthermore if you want some extra help with technique or don't feel confident in the water, private coaching sessions are there to accommodate your needs. So what are you waiting for? Come get wet at this beautiful open water venue.
Swim course length: 100m
Andark Lake is perfect for swimming laps of any length. Unlike many other venues, where there are pre-defined distances to choose from, the 100m design circuit offers a unique freedom to rowers and swimmers who can personalise their experience and swim as many laps as they desire. The gentle slope of the beach makes it easy to get in and out of the water, while onsite facilities like lockers, showers and a cafe offer plenty of options for preparation or relaxation after a long swim. Whatever your preference, Andark lake has something to make everyone's swimming experience an enjoyable one.