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Wild swimming in South Oxfordshire

We are extremely lucky to have several areas across the district to enjoy riverside fun and wild swimming, and many of our residents make the most of it every year.

There are many fantastic walking routes, leisure facilities and picnic spots to enjoy by the riverside and wild swimming is becoming an increasingly popular hobby.

If you are planning a trip to the riverside or anywhere you can swim outdoors, please take a moment to look at our River Safety Top Tips before you don your swimming goggles:

Swim Smart

  • Research or ask around for the best swimming spot
  • Pay attention to hazard signs and life buoys
  • Think about flow and temperature – assess the risks before getting in
  • Avoid swimming after heavy rain
  • Always swim with others
  • Avoid weirs, locks, pipes and sluices
  • Know where you are going to exit the water

Swim Safe

  • Wade in, don’t jump or dive. River depth is always changing, and you never know what is below the surface – trees, rocks, even shopping trolleys…
  • Keep a close eye on children
  • Know your limits, stay close to the bank and within your depth if you are not sure
  • Be boat aware – wear a bright tow-float and a bright swim hat
  • Swim Sober – drugs and alcohol can limit the ability of even the most experienced swimmers and increase the risk of drowning
  • Be respectful of other people using the waterways and riverbanks including anglers, kayakers and boaters.
  • Float to Live – lean back and use your arms and legs to stay afloat, get control of your breathing and then call for help

Don’t be a hero

  • Learn about water safety techniques and Float to Live
  • If you see someone in trouble in the water dial 999 or 112
  • Look for a flotation device nearby and throw it to them
  • Shout instructions to help them stay afloat – lean back and use arms and legs to stay afloat
  • Do not attempt a rescue without the correct training, experience or equipment.

Remember there are no lifeguards wild swimming, and there might not be a phone signal.

Stay safe, be aware, be wise #RespectTheWater.

“Year round, more and more of our residents and visitors are enjoying swimming and paddling in our beautiful rivers. As a regular river swimmer, I personally know the joys of being in the water and close to nature. There are simple steps you can take to ensure your swim is as safe as possible.

“Please be aware of the risks of swimming in rivers. Wade in, don’t jump. Be aware the water can be very cold and fast-flowing. Even strong swimmers can tire quickly. Swim with a friend, keep a close eye on children and stay within your limits. Our rivers are a wonderful gift for us all to enjoy, please enjoy them safely and remember to take your litter home with you and learn to #respectthewater.”
Cllr Jo Robb, River Thames Champion

If you have children or haven’t had much experience with swimming, consider making a splash at your local swimming pool – the water’s warm and clear, and you’ll have lifeguards on hand to keep you safe.

For more information on swimming outdoors please visit: