Swim Ulster is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the thrilling sport of open water swimming. With a passionate commitment to fostering a vibrant and inclusive swimming community, Swim Ulster Open Water has established itself as a leader in organising exceptional open water programmes & events.

Donaghadee masterclass lighthouse


Swim Ulster offers a comprehensive range of programmes specifically designed to cater to the needs and aspirations of a wide range of open water swimmers.

From dippers and dunkers taking part in their first event, to basic, intermediate and advanced competitors, we acknowledge the unique challenges and demands of swimming in open water environments, and so have developed specialised programmes that focus on enhancing swimmers’ skills, knowledge, enjoyment but above all safety.

The Get Wet Stay Safe programme is a joint initiative between Sport NI, RNLI, RLSS, ROSPA, HM Coastguard the National Trust and Local Authorities. Now in its third year of delivery by Swim Ulster, this programme provides the tools and expertise needed to ensure both novice and experienced swimmers enjoy open water spaces safely.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) – The RNLI is a renowned charity dedicated to saving lives at sea. Their website provides essential advice on open water safety, including tips for swimmers, boaters, and beachgoers.

Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) RLSS is a leading water safety charity that offers expert advice on swimming safety. Their website offers a range of resources, including information on open water swimming, lifesaving techniques, and water safety courses.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) ROSPA is a national accident prevention charity that provides valuable insights into safety measures for various activities, including open water swimming. Their website offers safety tips, advice, and recommended equipment.

Water Safety IrelandFor those in Ireland, Irish Water Safety provides comprehensive information on water safety and open water swimming guidelines. Their website offers advice on staying safe in different aquatic environments. 

Remember, when engaging in open water swimming, it is crucial to assess the conditions, be aware of your abilities, and use appropriate equipment such as wetsuits, brightly colored swim caps, and personal flotation devices. Additionally, always swim with a buddy and inform someone onshore about your swimming plans.

Swim Ulster encourages all swimmers to prioritise safety and make informed decisions when enjoying open water activities. Stay informed and prepared to have a wonderful and secure open water swimming experience. Open water swimming in Northern Ireland can be rewarding, but safety should always be the top priority. Stay informed, be prepared, and enjoy the beauty of the water while taking necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable swim.

The Beach to Buoy programme is designed for both juniors and adults who wish to develop their open water swimming skills further. It covers essential techniques such as cold water acclimisation, sighting, buoy turns, and pack swimming. Each course consists of four one-hour sessions. Participants should have a minimum swimming ability of 100m (any stroke).

The Masterclass programme is tailored for advanced open water swimmers and triathletes. It focuses on refining advanced open water skills, stroke analysis and stroke adaptation to open water, sighting, buoy turns, deep water starts and finishes, whilst also providing tips on race or event strategies. Each course comprises of two one-hour sessions, and individuals must be able to swim at least 400m front crawl in open water.

The Competitive Development Pathway programme. This offers swimmers aged 13 to 20+ from Swim Ulster affiliated clubs the opportunity to participate in a development programme. This pathway programme will provide specialist coaching for them to prepare to compete in events ranging from 1.5km up to 10km at Swim Ireland’s National Open Water Swimming Championships.

For more information on Swim Ulster’s open water programmes please email:

Open water Events Calendar 2024

Swim Ulster offers an exciting number of open water events all year round from chilly winter swimming in February, the challenge of the open sea on the North coast during the summer, or inland on the scenic fresh water of upper Lough Erne in late September, there is something for everyone.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself in a new environment, meet likeminded people, join in with family and friends and have some great craic, Swim Ulster together with the open water swimming community will extend a warm welcome to everyone.  

For more information on Swim Ulster’s remaining open water events this season, please email:

  • Big Bay Swim Portrush 11th August
  • Big Bay Swim Share Discovery Village 22nd September
  • Cushendun Boat Club Maritime Festival 25th August
  • Copelands to Donaghadee Invitational 7th September

Themed Spooky Halloween Swim at Splash 26th October


“Remember, when engaging in open water swimming, it is crucial to assess the conditions, be aware of your abilities, and use appropriate equipment such as wetsuits, brightly coloured swim caps, and tow floats. Additionally, always swim with a buddy and inform someone onshore about your swimming plans and enjoy”


Open water events

Take a look at our calendar to see what events are coming up in the future!

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