Lake District Swim Safe Code

Swim Safe - Follow the code

swimmer with bright hat


1. Be Seen, have support: Hat, float, flag, boat

  • Swimmers may be able to see boaters, but boaters may not be able to see swimmers!
  • Wear a bright swim cap and tow a bright float so you are more obvious to other lake users.
  • Have a safety boat or canoe support and display a flag alpha . They can help you if you start to struggle and boater will see your safety boat before they see you.
  • Never swim alone.

flag alpha

Flag Alpha


2. Be Water Wise: Temperature, depth, quality

  • Exposure to cool water can unexpectedly and rapidly lead to hypothermia. We strongly recommend that you wear a wetsuit to keep you warmer and more buoyant.
  • Enter the water slowly to get used to it. The water can be cold even on a warm day.
  • Always check the depth and water bed by walking in carefully.
  • Don't jump in.


3. Be Informed: Know the dangers; reduce the risk

  • Remember other people use the lake too!
  • Windermere, Derwentwater, Coniston Water and Ullswater are busy with lots of different boats on them.
  • People on boats may struggle to see you. A collision with any boat can be fatal.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.


4. Be Mindful: Where? When? Quiet lakes are best!

  • Choose one of the quieter lakes that do not allow boats. You can find a list of them below LIST OF LAKES.
  • Avoid mooring areas, marinas and jetties used by boats, ferry routes and boating channels.
  • Be aware boaters may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.
  • Only swim when weather conditions are suitable; remember they can change quickly.



Boat Safe – Follow the code

speed boat

1. Be Aware: Swimmers are not obvious in the water!

  • Keep a look out. Swimmers are not easy to see.
  • If you see a flag alpha it means there is a swimmer or diver in the water.
  • Make yourself aware of the lake byelaws for the National Park’s lakes.
  • If you are using a powerboat, make sure you have had suitable training.
  • Know your lake.


2. Observe: Swimmers may be in any area of the lake

  • Swimmers and other lake users may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.
  • Maintain a proper lookout for swimmers and other boats.
  • Swimmers can be very difficult to see, especially when there are waves or sun glare.


3. Avoid: Take early action. Keep well clear

  • Keep as far away from swimmers and their support boats as possible.
  • Remember that boats supporting swimmers cannot move out of your way.
  • Your wash can put swimmers and other lake users into serious difficulty.
  • Slow down and keep a safe distance.


4. Turn off engine: Kill the engine. Protect the swimmer.

  • Always wear a kill cord and make sure it is attached to the driver of the boat!
  • In an emergency, if you do get too close to a swimmer, turn off engine to stop injury from propellers.
  • ! In an emergency ring 999 and ask for the coastguard.


For more information on open water swimming courses in the Lake District visit Head to the Hills - Swim the Lake DistrictFor more information on swimming safety from the LDNPA visit

Image credit Head to the Hills -Swim the Lake District, LDNP.

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