Frequently asked questions!

Updated: Jun 3

Where can I train when the Harpenden pool closes?

The Harpenden pool will be closed from May 2020 to December 2020.

Extra open water pool swim sessions will be held and Luton Inspire at 12.15 - 13.15 and Hatfield Leisure Centre 9.30am - 10.30am.


How fit do I need to be to join a Pool2lake pool squad?

The open water pool squad sessions are a mixed ability group. If you can swim 2 lengths of front crawl without stopping you will be able to join the squad.


What stroke do you swim?

The Harpenden, St Albans, Luton and Hatfield pool sessions are all based on the front crawl stroke. For an open water event you can swim front crawl, breaststroke or a mix of strokes as long as you make the cut off time.

Backstroke is not permitted.


I can only swim breaststroke, can I join the pool squad?

Unfortunately, not. For the swim groups you need to be able to swim front crawl. Swimming breaststroke in the open water is totally fine. If you are wanting to learn front crawl, book a private lesson or sign up for some swimming lessons at your local pool where you can learn front crawl.


What’s the point of training in the pool for open water? The pool allows you to work on your technique, increase your stamina and fitness and to swim efficiently, so when the lakes open at the start of the season you’re ready. It’s also easier for your coach to correct your stroke from pool side. Mastering key open water techniques in the pool gives you the confidence when you tackle the open water, which may be a daunting experience in itself. The pool becomes your ‘good place’ to psychologically push through the open water challenge as you have trained and completed the distance in the pool. Remember it takes time, dedication and hard work to have a good front crawl technique.

How many lengths do I need to swim? Choose an event you would like to enter. The event could be a pool triathlon, open water event, sea swim. Preparation and training are the key to a successful and enjoyable event.

Triathlon swim distances Sprint - 750m - 30 lengths Olympic - 1.5km - 60 lengths Half Ironman- 1.9km - 76 lengths Full Ironman - 3.8km - 152 lengths * lengths calculated for 25m pool Open water circuit lengths for the various lakes in and around Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire:

Stanborough - 400m Denham - 400m - 1000m Boxend - 750m Merchant Taylors - 750m

What happens if I panic in the open water?



The feeling of panic and being out of breath when swimming in open water is a very real feeling. In the introduction to open water sessions, we work on options and tips for you to take control. The best thing is to use the buoyancy of the wetsuit and sit in the water. Catch your breath, look around and assess what you want to do. Decide if want to raise your hand and call for help or you have calmed down and then able to swim on. Panic is very common at the start of events and also at the start of the open water season when the water temperatures are still very cold. Never start swimming or leave the start area until you have fully acclimatised. Swimming with a tow float not only makes you visible to other swimmers and water craft but it will give you something to hang onto while you catch your breath, calm yourself and collect your thoughts.

How fast do I need to be for the pool squad? As long as you are able to swim front crawl, it really doesn't matter how fast you are. The pool training sessions offered with pool2lake are front crawl based and designed for you to swim at your own pace and within your ability. There might be swimmers faster or slower than you. Even if you are in a group session, everyone is working hard on improving their own swimming techniques and you wont be holding back any other participants.

Swimming in the open water, you can swim breaststroke, front crawl or a mix of both strokes. You can be competitive and swim fast as you like or just have a leisurely swim. Open water is your journey and your experience.

Where do I start? Plan what event you would like to do: sea swim, open water, swimathon or pool triathlon. Understand what training needs to be done, like your swim distance. How many lengths do I need to swim in the pool? Have I practiced my open water techniques in the pool? Do you know how to swim straight?

Join a swim group as you always train harder and its fun being with like-minded people.

Monday: Hatfield 7.00am

Tuesday: Harpenden 9.00am OR 9.45am

Tuesday: Luton Inspire 12.15 - 1.15pm

Wednesday: Luton Inspire 6.15am - 7.15am

WEdnesday: St Albans, Townsend School 7.30pm

Wednesday: St Albans, Townsend School 8.30pm

Remember, open water swimming is very different to pool swimming but pool2lake has a lot of experience helping swimmers of all ages perfect their techniques in the pool and make the transition to open water or wild swimming.


Where can I swim?


First time open water swimmers are highly recommended to join an introduction session. If you are determined to go it alone do make sure to swim in a managed lake where lifeguards are on duty with other safety measures in place.

Boxend, Stanborough, Merchant Taylors, Denham and Redricks

Should I buy a wetsuit?

If you think you’re going to take up open water swimming, yes to getting a neoprene swimming wetsuit as they have been specifically designed for open water swimming. Open water swimming wetsuits offer flexibility in the correct places, especially the shoulders. Having a wetsuit will allow you to stay in the water longer and it will help with buoyancy.

I would recommend a try before buy but this is not always an option. So, go to a store that will help you get the correct size and fit. It’s worth it! Trisports in Letchworth offer a fantastic services of getting you fitted correctly with a wetsuit.


When can I start open water swimming?

The lakes in the UK generally open at the end of April. The water temperature will be about 8 to 10 degrees so still very cold. You must be sure to fully acclimatise before you leave the start area of the lake.


Can I use a nose clip for open water swimming?

Yes. I would make sure the nose clip is attached to the goggles with an elastic band to prevent you losing it.


What goggles should I wear?

No leaky goggles!

Speedo, Aqua Sphere, Zoggs, Arena, TYR, it really doesn't matter what brand. It is imperative your goggles do not leak. You can wear pool goggles in the open water. Consider the lens colour to cope with different lighting conditions. Smokey or mirrored google lenses are good for sunny conditions. Clear lenses are best for misty grey days.

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