Open Water Swimming is a new fixture in Nottingham’s ParkLives activity calendar. Joining sessions such as Nordic Walking and Hula Hooping, ParkLives creates a relaxed and supportive atmosphere for the local community to get the best out of their parks.

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Every month this summer, Coca-Cola’s ParkLives will be leading an intrepid crew of open water swimmers at Colwick Country Park in Nottingham. The free sessions are supervised by a qualified instructor and are perfect for people who want to get back to nature or are looking for more of a challenge than swimming lanes at their local pool.

Open water swimming is gaining in popularity all over the country, especially in summer when the UK’s swimming ponds and lakes are a brilliant place to cool off. The ParkLives sessions were launched on Saturday 6th May and are open to everyone who can swim at least 400m (about 8 lengths of a standard swimming pool). It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got previous experience, it’s all about trying something new - you can even borrow a wetsuit!

The group takes to the water at Colwick’s Lake in Nottingham.

Retired police officer Debbie Tyler first experienced open water swimming with ParkLives last summer. Now it’s her favourite hobby. She says: “Problems with my knees meant I was looking for a low-impact activity to replace running, which I’d been doing for more than 30 years. I signed up for a ParkLives open water swimming session with a mate and we both loved the friendly atmosphere. The instructor was so knowledgeable too.”

Not satisfied with the calm Colwick’s Lake in Nottingham, Debbie has since completed the gruelling Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim, which is a 1.5 to 2-mile swim from the historical island prison to San Francisco.

Another open water swimming convert is Simon Baines-Norton, who also took the plunge as a change of pace from running. As well as the physical aspect, Simon enjoys the sociable aspect of the ParkLives group: “I’ve met loads of new friends through ParkLives – we keep in touch on Facebook. A lot of them do triathlons, which is something I’m now considering too. I’ve recently bought a bike, so I’ll see how I feel after a bit more open water training.”

If you’ve been inspired by Debbie and Simon, book your place in an open water swimming session at parklives.com.