British Gas Great North Swim: A Look Into the Great North Swim

Open Water Swimming Event

The Great North Swim 2012 hopes it can match the Great North Swim of 2011.  In 2011, the event filled up within six weeks to make it the biggest swimming event ever to be staged in Britain with 10,000 participants.  It's also the UK's biggest outdoor swimming event.  Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.  They seem to be well on their way though, as 9,000 participants have already registered.

Great North Swim Details
The Great North Swim is held at Windermere Lake in Cumbria, which is England's largest lake at 10.5 miles long.  It's a 3 day event, featuring 3 distances to accommodate people with all swimming abilities.  There are 1/2 mile, 1 mile and 2 mile races that you can enter.  Since the races take place in open water, there are expert kayakers and safety boats on hand to ensure safety.   Swimmers take off in waves, with around 300 people going every 30 minutes, with the start and finish lines on dry land.  You must wear a wetsuit to participate in any of the events.

 Great Swim Event Pack
All participants in the Great North Swim will receive an event pack which includes:

•    Your swim hat
•    Timing chip
•    Your event information guide
•    Baggage label

Elite Race
The Great North Swim also holds Elite races, which is invitation only.  Those who want to swim in this race should meet one or more of the following criteria:

•    Athletes who have competed in FINA Openwater World Cup 10km or FINA Open Water Grand Prix during 2008-2011 seasons
•    Athletes who have competed in FINA Openwater World Championships at 5km, 10km or 25km since 2006
•    Athletes who have competed in FINA Pool World Championships since 2006
•    Men under 16:15 LC for 1,500m achieved since 2008
•    Women under 9:00 LC for 800m achieved since 2008
•    Member of a British Swimming Squad 2011/2012
•    Also considered will be members of home nations swimming Senior Squads 2011/2012 (i.e. Scotland, England and Wales)

Meeting these criteria doesn't ensure that you'll be able to enter the Elite events, but it definitely helps.  The final decision belongs to the Elite Manager.

I'm only an occasional swimmer, so completing the 1/2 mile race would be a huge accomplishment for me.  I can't imagine swimming for 2 or more miles, that's hard enough for me to run!  It definitely sounds like a great competition for swimmers of all levels.