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We have made the difficult decision to cancel the Great East Swim that was due to take place on Saturday 25 Sept. We know our swimmers will be disappointed and we are too. Unfortunately, following the event’s postponement from its original date in June due to blue green algae, the situation has not improved and the water quality remains too poor for the event to take place. 

We have therefore been left with no alternative but to cancel this year’s event. We’re sorry that we have to do this, but we hope everyone understands our priority has to be ensuring the safety of our swimmers at the event.

Next year's Great East Swim will take place on Saturday 18 June 2022. All swimmers who have already purchased a place in the event will be automatically rolled over to 2022 and anyone who can’t make the 2022 date can apply for a refund. All participants will be contacted by email. 

The deadline for refunds is 10am on 28 Sept 2021 and refunds will be processed after this date.

Thank you for your understanding. 
The Great Swim Team 

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.


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