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Coaching the Open Water Swimming Awards

The three Open Water Swimming Awards are aimed at anyone aged eight and above looking to improve their open water swimming.

They are perfect for:

  • teachers who want to add variety to lessons
  • coaches who want to add variety to club sessions in the pool
  • coaches of open water swimmers to help assess their swimmers’ skills
  • open water operators to provide structure to their swimmer induction and sessions.

All three awards have dry side and water elements and can be delivered in open water. Awards 1 and 2 can also be delivered in the pool.

Awards 1 and 2 should be taught by fully-qualified teachers (Swim England Level 2 Teachers) or coaches (Swim England Swimming Coach). However, we recommend Award 3 is delivered by coaches who hold a Level 2 British Open Water or Level 2 Triathlon Coach qualification.

The resources and links below are to assist anyone coaching the awards.

Open Water Swimming Awards outcomes and coaching Points

Click or tap on the name of the award below to view the outcomes for each stage. Alternatively, you can download a PDF with the full list of outcomes for each award.

Open Water Swimming Award 1

Dry side

  1. Identify three essential items of open water swimming equipment.
  2. Provide three correct answers to questions about the correct use of wetsuits.
  3. Identify how a wetsuit affects your swimming and body position.
  4. Identify three potential hazards when swimming in open water.

In the water

  1. Enter the water safely.
  2. Demonstrate acclimatisation in cold water.
  3. Swim 200 metres of either front crawl or breaststroke.
  4. Demonstrate an action to get help.
  5. Exit the water safely.
Open Water Swimming Award 2

Dry side

  1. Describe how to feed an energy gel while swimming in open water.
  2. Give five examples of safety considerations you would expect to find at an open water swimming venue.
  3. Give five examples of personal equipment needed for open water swimming.

In the water

  1. Perform a mass start in the water.
  2. Perform a mass dive from the side of the pool.
  3. Swim 50 metres front crawl while sighting regularly to a point designated by the teacher or coach.
  4. Swim 50 metres front crwal including a turn around a buoy clockwise and anticlockwise.
  5. Swim a 4×50 metres front crawl set in a pack formation demonstrating: line drafting, arrowhead drafting, close proximity swimming and overtaking.
  6. Effectively use a feeding station without breaking the swimming rhythm.
  7. Demonstrate an action for getting help in open water.
Open Water Swimming Award 3

Dry side

  1. Demonstrate correct use of personal equipment for the conditions of the swim.
  2. Answer three questions correctly on the following safety topics: weather, temperature, safety personnel, hyperthermia and over-heating.
  3. Give two examples of symptoms that should be reported to a healthcare professional if they are experienced after swimming in open water.

In the water

  1. Enter the water safely and demonstrate effective acclimatisation.
  2. Perform a mass start in the water.
  3. Complete a 100 metres front crawl circle swim while sighting regularly to a point designated by the teacher or coach.
  4. Swim a minimum of 200 metres front crawl in a pack formation, demonstrating: line drafting, arrowhead drafting, close proximity swimming, overtaking and turning around a buoy.
  5. Perform a race finish between two points.
  6. Exit the water safely following venue procedures.
  7. Complete a simulated race of a minimum of 400 metres, demonstrating effective use of open water skills, including: starting, drafting, sighting, turning, feeding, overtaking, pack swimming, safety awareness and finishing.
Open water swimming award sample image


Click or tap on one of the resources below to download.

Open Water Swimming Awards