Open water swimming (OWS) is the new fitness trend that has exploded in popularity recently.

This style of swimming requires some research, swimming techniques and essential kit, including a buoyant wetsuit, tow float, swim hat and goggles.

Wales has an exciting selection of fantastic open water swimming spots, venues and organised swim sessions, taking place in lakes, rivers and coastlines.

The sense of freedom with an open water swim is one of the many appeals, you won't find any pool lanes or ropes when you take a dip in the great outdoors. Even in an organised swim session, you are still having a challenging swim in scenic surroundings.

Read more: The secret places you can go wild swimming in Wales

Swim Wales National Open Water Lead, Hope Filby, says that there has been a significant increase In open water swimming during the past year. She said: "We are fortunate that Wales has some iconic locations for individuals to enjoy open water swimming and can see the benefit it has on mental health and wellbeing.

"However, there is still a danger to this sport and therefore Swim Wales, in partnership with Welsh Triathlon, are working closely with these locations to become S.A.F.E Cymru accredited and offer safe organised open water swimming. We also strongly advise that individuals follow our safety tips."

Swim Wales advise that you check the conditions of your swimming spot and endeavour to swim in Swim in an accredited facility or a lifeguarded beach where possible. They also advise you to have the right gear and not to swim alone and if you get into trouble 'float to live'.

Simon Webb of the endurance events company, All or Nothing Events, says that safety in the water can never be guaranteed, even in an organised open water swimming event.

He said: "Our default position is that nowhere is safe to swim. We never refer to the 'S word'. We want people to understand that there is a huge difference in swimming in the sea in comparison to a pool or lake and if we can help provide some insight it hopefully makes swimmers more responsible.

"We provide fully supported inductions for people who want to learn more about sea swimming. We want to help educate people about the sea and what they should consider when swimming in our part of the Bristol Channel."

For those looking to try open water swimming, the key is preparation, practice and planning. If you are unsure, why not go to an organised event or a controlled outdoor swim session? Make sure to always be sure to swim with a friend and tell people where you are going.

If you want to try outdoor swimming we've got a round-up of some of the best places where you go try this enjoyable activity.

Llandegfedd Lake, Monmouth

Beautiful Llandegfedd Lake (on the border of Monmouth and Torfaen), is now offering supervised open water swimming sessions, with lifeguard trained staff in attendance.

There are four public sessions per week in a designated area, for controlled open water swimming, following accreditation from Swim Wales SAFE Cymru Accreditation Scheme.

These sessions take place on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5.30-6.30pm and on Sunday from 8.30-10.30am. The sessions are priced at £10 per person and can be booked through their membership scheme.

Visit https://llandegfedd.co.uk/

Read more:Llandegfedd Lake now offers open water swimming and we went along to try it out

Bala Lake, southern Snowdonia

Beautiful Bala Lake [Llyn Tegid], is Wales' largest natural lake at over four miles long and a mile wide. Full of local legends, it's located in the 'Lake District of southern Snowdonia' and has the most inviting, clear water to swim in.

The lake is famed for its impressive mountain scenery, rare wildlife, fishing and swimming. For confident swimmers, the Big Bala Swim offers you the opportunity to take part in an organised swim event with Love Swim Run.

There are three distance options to choose from so there is a swim to suit everyone. The date for the 2021 event will be announced on their website in due course.

Visit http://loveswimrun.co.uk/

Jackson's Bay, Vale of Glamorgan

Jackson's Bay is a pleasant sandy cove backed by cliffs and plenty of greenery. The 170-metre long beach slopes gently into the sea and is a popular spot for sea swimmers and paddleboarders. Care needs to be taken in these waters because of the risks posed by submerged rocks and the strong currents of the Bristol Channel.

All or Nothing Events offer beginner and advanced open water swim sessions in Jackson's Bay and other parts of Barry, as well as an array of other swimming and triathlon events. Their swim event team consists of fully qualified beach lifeguards, medics, rescue boat crew and supporting vessels and are well supervised.

Check out their range of swim and endurance events on their website and social media pages.

Visit https://www.allornothingevents.com/

Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia

Llyn Padarn
Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn is a glacially formed lake nestled amidst some of Snowdonia's most glorious scenery and is a beautiful spot for open water swimming. There's a host of other reactional activities you can do here as well, including watersports, walking and wildlife spotting.

The lake is also home to the 'Big Swim events' where you can are against fellow swim enthusiasts. The swim route will involve lengths of the lake (each length is 3km) with a choice of four different distances to choose from. Wetsuit and non-wetsuit places are available for swimmers.

Visit http://loveswimrun.co.uk/thebigwelshswim/

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

Barafundle Bay, near Stackpole Quay
Barafundle Bay, near Stackpole Quay

Since it was voted one of the best beaches in the world, visitors have flocked to Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire to sunbathe, relax and swim in the clear waters.

Found amid the Stackpole Estate, the bay is secluded by the fact that you can only access it on foot over the grassy cliffs.

Sea Swim Pembrokeshire advise that sea swimmers try the Barafundle Bay Loop. This route is a simple circular loop of the bay. Barafundle Bay is not very long, so one 'lap' comes to about 800m-1km.

If you want to improve your swimming skills, Sea Swim Pembrokeshire offer Open Water Swimming Coaching. They have years of experience swimming in the seas around Pembrokeshire and overseas and will help you gain your Open Water Coach qualifications.

Visit https://www.swimpembrokeshire.com/

Plas y Brenin, Betws-y-Coed

National Outdoor Centre Plas y Brenin is offering a number of open water options to help people build their confidence and improve their swimming technique.

This summer, customers will be able to book coaching lessons delivered by Plas y Brenin staff or supervised swimming sessions in the fresh, clean waters of Llynnau Mymbyr, with the spectacular backdrop of the Snowdon Horseshoe at the Centre’s base in the heart of Snowdonia.

Plas y Brenin’s fully qualified Open Water Swimming coaches will offer coaching sessions for beginner to intermediate level from £35 for two hours tuition. Beginners must be able to swim 200m in a pool to take part and will learn safe water entry and acclimatisation, stroke technique, sighting and swimming in a straight line, and drafting.

The Centre will also be hosting supervised open water swimming sessions every Thursday evening for competent swimmers looking to enjoy the lake independently with the reassurance of a supervisor.

Visit https://www.pyb.co.uk/open-water-swimming/

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