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Helmsley outdoor swimming pool by Chris J ParkerHelmsley outdoor swimming pool by Chris J Parker

Open water swimming

Wetting your toes with a quick paddle is standard practice on a day out to any of our beaches. If you're thinking of taking a dip in the briny, sea swimming on the east coast is not for the faint-hearted, but it's perfect for experienced and hardy dippers who want to swim against a spectacular backdrop. Wetsuits and neoprene swim cap recommended.

Scaling Dam Reservoir hosts open water swimming sessions every Tuesday evening. Booking is not required but is limited to 60 swimmers on a first come, first served basis. Anyone aged 12+ who can swim 500m confidently is welcome though all children aged 16 or under must be accompanied by an in-water adult. 

Outdoor swimming experiences

If the North sea or Scaling Dam sounds a little cold even when the sun's shining, maybe a heated pool is the answer? The Helmlsey Open Air Swimming Pool’s freshwater is held at around 28 degrees. Originally built in the 1960s, the 20m x 80m pool now comes complete with small café, changing facilities, new pool tank and surround making it the perfect place to laze away summer days. 

The pool is normally open every day from May half term until the first week in September, depending on the weather. The heating is then switched off and you can enjoy 'Cool Pool' sessions every Sunday until the middle of October as the pool gradually cools down, wetsuits welcome. Keep an eye on their website for the latest news.

For a bit of fun (and charity fundraising), you can take part in the annual north sea dips organised by the Lions in Scarborough (New Year's Day Dip) and Whitby (Boxing Day Dip). 2019 sees the second round of the Castle Swim Series at Castle Howard (20 July), with 5km, 2.5km and 1 mile swim options. Part of the annual Castle Howard Triathlon, swimmers and triathletes get exclusive use of the lake.

Scarborough Surf School offers coasteering, a combination of adventure swimming along sea cliffs, exploring gullies, caves, and rock formations, traversing the lower level sea cliffs on foot above deep water, and climbing the cliffs to different jumping locations, anywhere from 1–10m high.

This is an activity best tackled with local, trained group leaders, where all safety equipment is provided. Remember the unspoilt Heritage Coast needs to be respected to allow sustainable use of this very special location; it's also a dangerous sport and one not without risk, so we recommend going only with these well-trained experts. 

For a bit of fun, head to the North Yorkshire Water Park, in the woodland setting of Wykeham Lakes and dive into the AquaPark, a floating inflatable course including climbing walls, trampolines, balance bars, rockers, rollers and blast bags. The Lake is also available for Open Water Swimming.

Indoor swimming 

If you prefer the warmth and safety of an indoor swimming pool and a great place for a splash around with the kids on a rainy day, see contact details for local swimming pools.