Whether you are a seasoned professional swimmer or a mere beginner, there are plenty of places to keep up the practice or make a start here in Suffolk. Our guest writer Natasha Sones starts off our series of active Suffolk for families with the fun family places to swim and hidden gems that Suffolk has to offer.
There are a number of swimming pools in Suffolk, perfect for family trips out. In Ipswich is Crown Pools, which boasts an 8-lane competition pool, leisure pool with wave machine, and teaching pool. Also in Ipswich is Fore Street, which has a single pool and showers. At both pools, you can buy a family ticket (up to 2 adults and 3 children) and it’s free for under 3s.
In Stowmarket is Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre. Here you can enjoy the 25 metre, six-lane main swimming pool, the learner pool, and a toddler’s pool.
The aquarium themed pool at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket
Other swimming pools in the area include:
- Deben Leisure Centre in Woodbridge
- Ufford Park Leisure Club in Ufford
- Leiston Leisure Centre
- Felixstowe Leisure Centre
- Hadleigh Pool and Leisure
HAVE A POOL ALL TO YOURSELF
If you would like a little more privacy than a public swimming pool, there are some private ones in Suffolk too.
Chillesford Lodge Pool, just outside Orford, is a private swimming pool available all year round. There are open swim sessions on Saturday afternoons 14.00-18.00 and Sunday mornings 10.00-14.00. Other weekday times may be available on an ad-hoc basis, just ring/email for availability.
Swim at the Mill is a private indoor swimming pool, available for hire, in the heart of the Suffolk countryside at Swilland. Kept at a comfortable warm 31°C, here it is a pleasure to swim or bob about for a chat. You are welcome to bring your own floats or children’s water toys.
Located in Levington, Stratton Hall is a private swimming pool that is easily accessible from Felixstowe, Woodbridge, and Ipswich. The pool can be hired on an hourly basis, you book a regular slot for a 3 month period, paid in advance. The exception to this is on Saturdays when you can book one slot at a time. The swimming slots are very popular so be sure to book well in advance.
From seas and lagoons to lakes and rivers, wild swimming in Suffolk has become more popular. Cold-water immersion has been proven to alleviate stress and depression and help tackle autoimmune disorders. It has also been linked to pain relief, a reduction in inflammation, increased concentration, and improved circulation.
In the winter children can enjoy swimming too but you will need to take extra care. They are mostly smaller and lighter than adults, they have a higher body surface-to-volume ratio, and often have less body fat, so they will cool down faster. A wetsuit, neoprene gloves, and shoes are the best bet if children are trying it. A hat is also a must. You might find it best to start the children off in the spring or summer months.
Wild swimming in the sea
If you want to give wild swimming a go there are some groups you can join in with. The Bluetits Chill Swimmers are an informal group of mixed-gender people who just like to swim or dip together. Joined together by a love of swimming, adventure, and the sense of community that brings. The Bluetits are not an official club and there are no membership fees. Anyone is welcome at any of the informal swims arranged in the groups and swimming is free. A tow float is recommended and it is not recommended to swim alone and everyone swims at their own risk.
Felixstowe Swimscapes Outdoor Swimming is a friendly open water group, swimming off Felixstowe beach, beach hut 207, Undercliff Rd East, IP11 7LS. They swim all year round: May-Oct twice a week (Sat 10:30, Mon 18:00, (most) Weds 17.30); Nov-April only on Saturdays 10:30. It is optional to wear a wetsuit, but it is recommended to wear a bright swim hat. Swimming is free and everyone swims at their own risk.
Felixstowe beach at sunset, an ideal time for a sea swim
Wild swimming in rivers and pools
At Dedham, the River Stour is a popular place for river swimming, along with paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking. Car parking close by is at Mill Lane car park CO7 6DH.
During the summer months, you will find Knettishall Heath is a family favourite. The freshwater pool provides a welcome haven on warm days for a dip and refresh. There are picnic tables and keep an eye out for the ice cream van that may make an appearance too!
Want to find other places for wild swimming in Suffolk, read more here.