Lake District's Grand Gathering: The 17th Arla Great North Swim Draws Thousands

Lake District’s Grand Gathering: The 17th Arla Great North Swim Draws Thousands

The Arla Great North Swim returned to Brockhole on Windermere in the United Kingdom for its 17th edition, drawing a robust crowd of 7,500 swimmers and 20,000 spectators. Over the weekend of June 7th to 9th, participants of all ages and abilities plunged into the scenic waters of the Lake District, engaging in a spectrum of events from 250-meter dashes, one-mile, two-mile, 5k, 10k and the SwimRun.

The festival-like atmosphere was palpable, with the open water event had a wide range of activities that catered to the entire family. Beyond swimming, the event was a lively gathering with adventure play areas, local food and drink stalls, and engaging outdoor activities, all set against the picturesque backdrop of Windermere.

Among the swimmers were individuals like Sarah and Ben Wilson from Nuneaton, Warwickshire. After losing a leg, Sarah found solace and strength in swimming, leading her to participate in the Great North Swim to support the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Her brother Ben joined her to show solidarity and support for her cause. Another group swam in tribute to the late Lauren McFarland, raising funds for Keswick Mountain Rescue, celebrating Lauren’s adventurous spirit.

The event also highlighted remarkable comebacks, such as Ben Taney’s journey from paralysis to swimming a mile, coached by Paralympian Alice Tai. Similarly, Wendy Lampert and her team swam in memory of her late husband, Richard Lampert, a heart transplant recipient who lived a full life thanks to the gift of organ donation.

The event emphasized inclusivity with the ‘Every Body Swim’ campaign, showcasing the universal appeal of swimming. Gill Castle, known for being the first person with a stoma to swim the English Channel, shared her empowering story, demonstrating that physical challenges do not have to limit human spirit and ambition.

The SwimFest stage enriched the experience with talks from BBC Breakfast presenter, Louise Minchin took on the 2-mile swim and the SwimRun Middle distance, who discussed her book ‘Fearless’ and her endurance sports journey, founder of Zero, Andy Caine, talking and the benefits of cold water immersion and human optimization and outdoor adventurer and mum, Thao Nunns who her passion for nature, swimming, and her own experience of the Arla Great North Swim.

Dr Shahnaz Hassan, a psychiatrist with a passion for swimming and the impact it can have on mental health swam the 1 mile on Saturday and said: “In my work in mental health, with a special interest in adult ADHD, we know exercise, including swimming is beneficial for our mental health, which releases endorphins and happy hormones and that can be beneficial for depression, anxiety, and beneficial to people with ADHD. The calming environment is helpful for people with sensory overload.”

Paul Foster, the Chief Executive of The Great Run Company, commended the dedication of lifeguards, medics, and volunteers who played a crucial role in the event’s success.  Laura Butler, strategic brand manager for Arla LactoFREE, said: “The Great North Swim is a truly inspirational event, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take on their own personal open water challenges.”

Sign up for 2025 on the Great North Swim website.

WOWSA