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Grantchester to Sheep's Green
Saturday 9th July 2022
2.5km Social River Swim and Picnic (Wave 4 1.2km)
Entry £18.50 (under 16 £13.50)
The picnic's FREE (bring your own picnic), bring cake to share!.
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  aboutThe Cambridge Swim Picnic isn't a race. It's a social swim and a picnic at Sheep's Green, in the historic city of Cambridge. The only difference is to get to the picnic you have to swim along the idyllic River Cam from the village of Grantchester 2.5km away.
The Cambridge Swim Picnic is part of the Slow Swimming campaign, aimed at encouraging swimmers to take their time and enjoy the opportunity to be out fully immersed in nature. There are no timing chips or results sheets. Everyone who takes part is a winner equally.
We are very keen to get children used to, and enjoying, swimming outdoors. This will improve their safety in and around water and should encourage them to be lifelong outdoor swimmers. There isn't an age restriction as such, but obviously we would be depending on your adequate supervision of anyone under 16. I would very much recommend that they wear a wettie, as children lose heat quicker than adults when in water, and unless they are very good swimmers a form of buoyancy aid.
To give everyone an enjoyable swim the event is split into waves. Each wave goes off over periods of time, so there is no start signal and mass start.

Wave one: Seriously Need More Cake (Known as Serious), open from 10:30am to 10:45am. Choose this wave if you would like to actually swim fast.
Wave two: Relaxed 'cause we know where the cake is hidden (Known as Relaxed). Steady pace - no rush. Open from 10:45am to 11:15am.
Wave three
: Enjoying the Journey (Known as Enjoying it). Sculling along, maybe with a bit of paddling, smiling and chatting. Open from 11:15 am to 11:30am
Wave four: Pooh Sticks. Shorter distance of 1.2km, but just as much to see. Basically it's for people who would prefer something a bit shorter but want to really enjoy the scenery and float along using floaty things (nothing bigger than a lilo please) and stick out the occasional hand or foot to paddle. It could be as little as arm bands or a rubber ring. Open from 12.00pm to 12.15pm.
BUT - please make sure it's both safe (won't go down and drown you) and won't damage the river or river banks. We are here to help look after the river!
Start times subject to change nearer the day.
TownSheep's Green has been a venue for swimming in Cambridge since medaeval times. In 1587 Everard Digby, a Fellow of St John's College, published a treatise on swimming called De Arte Natandi (the Art of Swimming). Written in Latin, its purpose was to raise swimming from "the depth of ignorance and the dust of oblivion".
A paddling pool, still popular with local children, has been the first experience of swimming for generations. Until the 1960's there were separate ladies and gents' changing sheds and designated bathing areas at the river. Swimming galas took place every year and a race along the backs through the town past many of the oldest colleges took place right up to the 1970's. Once municipal indoor pools were created in Cambridge, river swimming started to die off, but there are still hardy swimmers to be seen every summer.
  The SwimThe idea of a social swim and picnic started on the River Stour in Dedham on the Suffolk-Essex border in 2013. A bunch of friends getting together and just deciding to do it. So out came the wetties (it was September) and sandwiches were made, bottles of ginger beer were packed and it happened. The official 'start list' only had six starters and luckily an equal number of finishers.
  The original gang
  2017The first Cam Swim Picnic was in 2018 and saw nearly 200 people sign up and swim on a truely perfect English Summer's day. The river temperature was 23 degrees and most people ditched wetsuits in favour of cossies. Everyone had a great time with the first swimmer home in 38 minutes.
  Wave 2
  Some of the 'Pooh Sticks' wave really knew how to enjoy the event and took up to two hours to slowly paddle their lilos and inflatable unicorns the distance.
  whereThe swim is along the idyllic River Cam from Grantchester to Sheep's Green in Cambridge.
Registration is in the picnic field at Sheep's Green.
The start of the standard swim distance is at the river directly adjacent to the Red Lion in Grantchester. Wave 4 (Pooh Sticks) starts at the Cambridge end of Grantchester Meadows.
We suggest that you park at the end of the course at Sheep's Green or in one of the many car parks in Cambridge, drop off your picnic supplies at the marquee in the picnic field, register and stroll the 1.5 miles to the start along the river bank. This should take around 40 minutes.
  raise moneyThis year we are proud to be raising much needed funds for the Cam Valley Forum

The Cam Valley Forum is a voluntary group  established in 2001. They work with their extensive network of partners to protect and improve the environment of the River Cam and its tributaries. They help identify, monitor and tackle problems affecting the river.
To Enter The Swim                            
1. Click the 'Sign Me Up button' to go through to Entry Central
2. Fill in the details of each member of your group. Entry costs £18.50, (£13.50 under 16s)and which wave they would like to be in.
3. Decide whether you would like a T Shirt, cost £15.00 each.
You can pay by any type of payment card using the checkout.

sign me up
Buy the T ShirtOrder your 2022 Cambridge Swim Picnic T Shirt now and have it ready for you at the picnic after the swim. All T Shirts ordered before the 13th June will have th list of swimmers names who have pre-paid for their t shirts before that date, on the back. A unique souvenir and profits go towards our good cause.
Camb T Shirt 2022  Small to fit chest 34/36" 
Medium to fit chest 38/40"
Large to fit chest 42/44"
X Large to fit chest 46/48"
XX Large to fit chest 50/52"
XXX Large to fit chest 54/56"
XXXX Large to fit chest 58/60"
   Cam Valley Forum

Cam Swim Picnic July 9th 2022. Briefing notes.


You’ll find below some useful notes for the day.



Please try to car share, use public transport, cycle or walk to the registration point at Sheep’s Green if possible. If you want to arrange to car share click through to the event Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1687855674617188/



If you are arriving by car there are a variety of places to park.

The Cambridge Park and Ride is at Trumpington. Buses run every 10 minutes from 8am. You should get off the bus at ‘Botanic Gardens’ stop, from where it is a short walk across the bridge. Just as you get across the bridge there is a gate on the left had side of the road that takes you down to the river on Sheep’s Green.


Trains run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Cambridge. Cambridge Station is a 15 minute bus ride or 5 minute cab journey to The Driftway, Lammas Land.



The first thing to do is to register yourself at the table in the small marquee on Sheep’s Green near the Cambridge Canoe Club building. You must have already entered the event on-line to be able to participate. There won’t be any new entries on the day.


Registration opens at 9.30am. It will take you around 30 to 40 minutes at a slow amble to walk the 2.5km to the start at the river bank below Grantchester, therefore you should register at the latest by Wave 1: 10.00am, Wave 2: 10:30am, Wave 3: 10:45am, Wave 4: 11.45pm. Registration closes at 12noon.


Walk to the start

Leave as much of your picnic stuff and after swim clothing, towels, robes etc., at the registration point as possible. There is limited space in the back-up vans to bring stuff back from the swim start. If you need to leave anything to be brought back from the start to Sheep's Green please put it in a small bag and tie a label with your name on it to it. You will be able to collect your bag from the corral at Sheep's Green.

Take just what you need for the walk and follow the map along the Cam the 2.5km to the swim start point. The first part of the walk takes you along the river, through the trees and then goes ‘inland’ for a bit as there isn’t a path along the river at this point, but then you can get back down to the river and follow it all rest of the way.

Encourage your supporters to come with you to the swim start, as they will be able to follow your progress as you swim back, encouraging you on the way and help to take your bits and pieces with them to back to the swim end point at Sheep’s Green.


Swim start

Each wave starts within a time interval, there's no rush. Spread out your start so there's plenty of space to swim in. If you are late for your wave, don't panic - just join in with the next one. The waves are to spread people out.

If you are used to swimming outdoors you are welcome to swim in just a swimming-cosie. Most people will be using a wetsuit, either a purpose made swimming wetsuit or a surfers wettie.

(In answer to a message -)There is a history of unclothed swimming in the Cam and if this is your thing then – no problem, but please be sensitive to the feelings of others and be as modest as possible.


The Swim

The first 1.5km has a lovely footpath through Grantchester Meadows immediately on your left, beside the river. This is great for your supporters to follow your progress, but also for you to leave the river if you need to.

If you do leave the river, please walk back to Sheep’s Green and sign out of the river at the registration table.

There is then a short section of around 400m to 500m beside the nature reserve that there is no path so make sure you feel OK to complete this section before committing to it. There will be one of the marshals at this point to remind you that this is the beginning of the ‘un-pathed’ section.

As the path resumes there are a couple of tributaries coming into the river on your left, but for navigation purposes always choose the right hand channel. There will be kayakers with hi-viz vests on at the section just in case.

You will then pass under a footbridge, as you do look out to the left for the ladders out of the river by the Cambridge Canoe Club. This is the end of the swim. As you leave the river you will be applauded and surrounded by admirers.


One last bit of admin – sign out of the river at the registration table. We need to know that you have completed the swim so we don’t start looking for you in the river.


The Picnic.

First go and wash your hands and face. This is not just for general hygiene but also a wise precaution after having swum in an open river or lake as a guard against ‘Weil’s disease’


Weil’s disease

Cover any open wound with a waterproof plaster. Wash your hands and face after swimming and before eating. If you get flu or jaundice-like symptoms three to fourteen days after swimming ask your doctor for a Leptospirosis test. It is simply treated with antibiotics.


Now eat cake, drink pop and bask in the glory of your achievement.


Contact: Stuart Hamilton: 07957844512, SlowSwimming@aol.com  or via the Facebook group

Join the event Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1687855674617188/

Click to Download pdf copies of:

Cambridge Park and Ride map from Trumpington Park and Ride

Cambridge Car Park map

Map from registration to start