The Serpentine Lake is situated in London's Hyde Park. The historic Serpentine Swimming Club, established in 1864, has its own (somewhat Spartan) changing facilities and Serpentine Swimming Club members are permitted by the Royal Parks to swim in the lake every morning from 05:00 to 09:30.
The Serpentine Swimming Club is an inclusive community that encourages outdoor swimming and racing all year round in London’s Hyde Park. Since 1864.
The Serpentine Swimming Club is affiliated to Swim England via its Stronger Affiliation programme, showing that we have the highest standards of safe and effective practice in place for our members.
ENDURANCE DISTANCE SWIMMING IN OPEN WATER
The Serpentine Swimming Club was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2021 for its positive focus on healthy qualities, which include:
- distance swimming in open water,
- water quality,
- water safety,
- honesty, and
With 82 successful solo Serpentine Swimming Club English Channel swimmers (between 1957-2021), and an abundance of swimmers who have successfully swam other stretches of water, we can feel happy that our club’s values are recognised and appreciated by the IMSHOF. Here is our list of long distance swimmers.
The club is open every day of the year and on Saturday mornings, handicap races are held at 08:00 throughout the year. Wetsuits are not permitted for the races. The most well known of the races is the "Peter Pan Christmas Day Race". During winter months the water temperature is very low and the lake does occasionally freeze, whilst in the summer the water can reach tropical temperatures over 20°C (70°F).
Thanks to low membership fees that have not been raised in 20 years, the Serpentine Swimming Club is the only swimming club in central London that offers an inclusive and affordable swimming environment for its community, welcoming swimmers from all walks of life and swimming abilities united by a common love of outdoor swimming.
As part of the club's commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, we are committed to the following principles:
1. We believe that everyone should be able to participate in and enjoy open water swimming – whoever they are and whatever their background.
2. We believe that swimming is about fairness and equality, respect and dignity. Sport teaches individuals how to strive and succeed, how to cope with success and disappointment and brings together people with a common goal.
3. We are committed to making these values a reality for anyone identifying as lesbian, gay bisexual and or transgender. We will work together and individually to rid swimming of homophobia and transphobia.
4. We want the Serpentine Swimming Club to be a welcoming place for everyone at any level, and will challenge unacceptable behaviour.
The Serpentine Swimming Club is proud to support Level Water, a swimming charity that helps people with visual or other impairments learn how to swim. The charity teachers work in 90 pools across the country. Since 2019, the SSC has donated £28K, which has enabled Level Water to work with 36 children swimming every week for the last 3 years.
Helping the handicapped is a long-term Serpentine Swimming Club commitment.
In 1964, “Breaking the Ice”, a book was published to celebrate the first 100 years of our existence. The introduction says, “The profits derived from the sale of this book go to a voluntary body teaching physically handicapped people to swim.” It is nice to think that almost 60 years later, the Serpentine Swimming Club still has the same spirit of philanthropy.
To recognise the club's spirit of philanthropy, Level Water created in 2022 an annual award for up to 3 teachers to receive The Serpentine Award of Excellence in Disability Teaching, recognising their excellence in disability teaching. Level Water choose the Disabled Teacher(s) of the year from the parent's and children's votes.
SERPENTINE LIDO: THE ROYAL PARKS
This is a commercial franchise operated by the Royal Parks for the general public, outside of Serpentine Swimming Club hours (usually 10am to 6pm). The Lido is staffed with professional lifeguards and usually operates from July to September. Check the Royal Parks website for more details.
BATHING WATER QUALITY
From 1st May to 31 September, to correspond with public access to the Serpentine Lido, the Environment Agency monitor the bathing water quality of the Serpentine lake. This detail is monitored and used by The Royal Parks. Please follow this link for the relevant detail.