7,500 swimmers and 20,000 spectators from across the country descended on Brockhole on Windermere this weekend, for the 17th annual staging of the Arla Great North Swim.

The event, which is hailed for its family-friendly festival feel, included not just open water swimming (distances swam ranged from 250metres to 10k, as well as the SwimRun) but the weekend also offered something for the entire family with attendees enjoying outdoor activities and adventure play, local food, drink stalls, and much more.

The event catered for all ages and abilities and showcased amazing stories of people participating for their own personal challenges as well as for a variety of good causes.

Including, Sarah and Ben Wilson from Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Sarah found swimming helped her physical and mental health after she had her leg amputated (read more here). Sarah decided to take part in the Great North Swim to give back to the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Ben, Sarah's brother, joined Sarah to swim this year to show his support.  

A huge group joined the weekend in memory of Lauren McFarland, carrying flags and wearing t-shirts in Lauren's memory. The group said: “In memory of our adventurous, beautiful and fun Lauren, we will be raising money for Keswick Mountain Rescue and tackling different challenges between us from half marathons, triathlons, and the Great North Swim.

“Lauren was full of adventure, running up her local fells after work, and had recently returned from Everest Base Camp in November. Keswick is where she got her flat which she loved. We feel raising money for Keswick Mountain Rescue in her name would be fitting.”

Ben Taney from Kingslynn was in an accident seven years ago that left him paralysed from the chest down. He's now managed to regain the use of his legs to the point where he can walk again. Ben had been coached by Paralympian Alice Tai, MBE, and trained for weeks to go from not swimming to taking on a mile swim at the Great North Swim. 

Wendy Lampert and a group of 15 friends and family swam in memory of Wendy's late husband Richard, who sadly died in 2021 at the age of 52. Richard was one of the longest-surviving UK heart transplant recipients. He had an amazing 34 years of life; love and adventure thanks to an anonymous organ donor. Wendy and the group took part in the 1-mile swim on Saturday to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

This year's ‘Every Body Swim' campaign focused on the inclusivity of swimming and how everyone can enjoy the feeling of freedom that the water gives us, which is why we were delighted to welcome Gill Castle as a guest speaker and swimmer. Gill, 44 of Alnwick, is the first person with a stoma to swim the English Channel (read more here).

Author and former BBC Breakfast presenter, Louise Minchin took on the 2-mile swim and the SwimRun Middle distance. Louise also presented on the SwimFest stage on Saturday afternoon to talk about her book ‘Fearless.'

Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi swam for the fourth year in a row “I always look forward to meeting other like-minded people that love swimming and witnessing the joy they get from it. “I've gained so much from swimming for my health and wellbeing, in particular my mental health, and I wanted to try to translate that to the patients I'm seeing and help those with long-term physical or mental conditions to access the benefits of swimming.” 

His wife, Dr Shahnaz Hassan, is a Psychiatrist with a passion for swimming and the impact it can have on mental health. She swam the 1 mile on Saturday.  Dr Shahnaz, 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.” (read more here).

Paul Foster, Chief Executive of The Great Run Company, said: “We'd like to say a big thank you to the amazing lifeguards, medics, power boat crew, swim safety kayakers and volunteers. We couldn't do the Arla Great North Swim and Great North Swim Run without you.

“With beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage, the Lake District is a fantastic location and an event we look forward to each year.  This year was no different from the many great presenters taking to the SwimFest stage, vendors, spectators and activities everyone could enjoy.”

Laura Butler, Strategic Brand Manager for Arla LactoFREE, said: “The Arla Great North Swim perfectly aligns with our values of encouraging people to embrace the outdoors, challenge themselves, and enjoy the benefits of physical activity. 

“We believe that by partnering with this event, we can inspire more individuals to dive into their passions and make a splash in their own lives. Arla is committed to fostering a community that values well-being, and we are excited to have been part of such an amazing experience for a second year."

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The Arla Great North Swim and Great North Swim Run will be back from Friday 13 June to Sunday 15 June 2025. Sign up for next year to get our 2025 Early Bird Offer. Don't miss out on our lowest entry price!

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