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We are really sorry that due to elevated, and potentially toxic, levels of blue-green algae currently forming in Alton Water, we can no longer safely hold this event as planned on Saturday 19 June. We are sure, like us, our swimmers are disappointed about this news, and after almost 2 years of no Great East Swim events we are hugely disappointed that we have had to do this.

However, safety is paramount to us, and as the naturally occurring bacteria can be toxic if ingested, it has been deemed unsafe for swimmers by our water testing officials. This event is not cancelled, it has been postponed to Saturday 25 September 2021. Entries will be automatically rolled over to the new date, however, if you are unable to take part on this date you will be offered a refund. The deadline for refunds is 10am on Monday 28 June.

We will be in touch with entrants by email with further details.

Be part of the open water swimming family

The John West Great East Swim will now return to Alton Water (Alton Water Sports Centre near Ipswich, Suffolk IP9 2RY) on Saturday 25th September 2021. 

The event will follow strict covid-secure procedures, ensuring the safety of participants, spectators and Great Swim crew.  As such we will be operating to a reduced capacity and a slightly different timetable to previous years. 

It will be a fantastic day out in a truly stunning setting. With distances to suit all levels and abilities, a farmers' market and musical entertainment, there really is something for everyone! 

It’s been a year and a half since we saw the high-fiving celebrations with friends and family, well-earned medals being worn with pride and beaming smiles on faces.  We can’t wait to see you all again!

We are delighted to be able to open the 10k distance for swimmers in 2021, however there is a notable change. Having reviewed the event in light of the current Covid-19 guidance, we are unable to offer a feed station. As this is an endurance event swimmers will have to agree to swim self-supported. This will mean using a mandatory tow float device such as this, to carry water and appropriate food. Each swimmer must tow their own float, and these will be inspected at check in. If there is a notable change in Covid-19 guidance then this policy may be reviewed.

By entering the 10k event you agree that you will swim with a tow-float containing any nutrition you require to complete your 10k swim.

Which Distance?

1/2 mile

Wetsuit Policy

Wetsuit use is optional at all John West Great Swim events for water temperatures of 15⁰C or above. Swimmers choosing not to wear a wetsuit MUST use an approved high visibility tow float, swimmers wearing wetsuits can also choose to swim with a tow float. This only applies to swimmers aged over 16 years old. Swimmers aged under 16 will be required to wear a wetsuit.

We’ve teamed up with 2XU to provide a wetsuit hire service. For more information, or for day, month or season 2XU wetsuit hire click here.


John West Great East Swim250

If you’re keen to try an open water swim, but don’t know where to start, the John West Great East Swim250 event is ideal for new or nervous swimmers, families, and children aged 8 and over, where you can literally test the water and get a feel for swimming in the great outdoors. 
What is it?
250 metres (the equivalent of 10 lengths of a standard 25 metre pool) of open water swimming/splashing/doggy-paddling in the bay area of Alton Water.
Please note: Wetsuits are compulsory and every child aged 11 and under must be accompanied by one adult (per child). Anyone aged 18+ years old is classified as an adult.

Payment information:
For children aged 8 - 11 years old the entry payment is £19 and accompanying adults must also purchase an entry at a cost of £19.

What swimmers get: All entrants will receive a swim cap, a shiny new medal and a finisher's t-shirt, included in the entry price.
Places are limited for this fun, family-focussed event so make sure you secure yours today!



8 - 11 year olds sign up here  

12 years old and over sign up here  


Great East Swim250

Event location

About Suffolk

Suffolk is a county where you can travel through time and through varied landscapes from coast to forest.  It is a county for experiences and activities, either on foot, by bike or on water with plenty of trails, lakes and 50 miles of coastline to explore.  Food is a big obsession in Suffolk, with the freshest of takings from the sea and land.  There are regular farmers markets throughout the county with restaurants and pubs all offering the most delicious locally sourced ingredients.

Here you will find some of the most picturesque villages in Britain, practically unchanged since Tudor times; the world-famous Newmarket, the home of horseracing; the waterfront town of Ipswich and the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds, all sitting alongside a thriving cultural and arts scene.

Suffolk is a unique county, one that’s full of charm yet only a 2hr drive from London and with good transport links which makes it perfect for weekend breaks as well as longer holidays for visitors of all ages.

Find out more at


About Suffolk

Alton Water

The John West Great East Swim takes place at the picturesque Alton Water reservoir near Ipswich, Suffolk. The reservoir provides the main source of drinking water for Ipswich and the southern part of Suffolk.

Alton Water offers the opportunity to do far more than swim – it’s the perfect location for walks, cycle rides, wildlife spotting and family picnics. With miles of unspoilt countryside, numerous award winning beaches and scores of enchanting towns and villages within reach of Alton Water, Suffolk makes an ideal choice for a short break. Only an hour’s train journey away from London Liverpool Street station. 

Alton Water


We've put together a comprehensive list of questions and answers around the Great East Swim.

Priority Car Parking will go on sale closer to the time, with a variety of other transport options also available. We are working with the local transport partners to ensure there are a range of options to get to the event site. We will communicate with all entrants when the priority car parking goes on sale.

Whilst plans are still to be finalised it is not anticipated that face masks will be compulsory around the general site, due to the open air nature of it. This will be confirmed closer to the event date based on wider Covid restrictions, as well as any areas where masks may be compulsory (such as public transport, etc).

Hand sanitizer will be available around the event site.

There are no specific plans to limit spectators coming to the event at present, however there will be areas within the event site itself that are reserved for swimmers only. At this stage we are not able to guarantee that friends and family will be able to view swimmers in the water, due to the nature of the event site.

We are hoping to deliver an exciting event village, including sponsors and partners, as well as food and activities for all.

The exact format of the warm up is yet to be confirmed, and will be communicated nearer the event date. We will of course be holding our usual safety briefings prior to each swim.

At this stage we are unable to provide exact details of what viewing will be available for spectators and supporters.

All waves will have sufficient time and space to assemble in a socially distanced manner, with 1m+ space for all. In addition swimmers will be slowly released over the start line to ensure distancing can continue in the water.

Our safety systems will undergo a full review to ensure they are in line with current Covid-19 guidelines. Safety of swimmers, spectators, volunteers and staff will be at the centre of any decisions.

Our safety systems will undergo a full review to ensure they are in line with current Covid-19 guidelines. Safety of swimmers, spectators, volunteers and staff will be at the centre of any decisions.

If the 2021 event is cancelled we will automatically roll your place over into the subsequent staging of the event.