Thursday Open Water Swim

During the summer – from mid May until early September – we offer open water swimming from 6pm to 7:30 or 8pm on Thursdays at Barnt Green Sailing Club at Upper Bittell Reservoir.

Bittell reservoir and clouds

Is there a charge for the session?

Yes, bring £5 cash to swim. Parking is free.

What do I need to know if it’s my first time?

The session is held at Upper Bittell Reservoir, Cofton Church Lane, B45 8BH.

There’s a visitors’ car park on the left as you turn in, with a cut through to the area where the changing and showers are. You can also carry on and turn left past the house, parking in the main car park between the changing rooms and reservoir entry point. But NEVER park under the trees on the right of where you drive in.

Registration is in one of the boat sheds, next to the lookout. Most people change before walking up to registration. Bring £5 cash. Bring a bright swim cap.

You will need to familiarise yourself with the Guidelines, rules, and safety information (PDF) for the Bittell open water swimming sessions, too.

How long is the course?

The course can vary but is around 500m.

What do I need to bring?

A brightly coloured swimming cap and goggles (tinted if it is a bright day). A wetsuit (unless you are a skins swimmer, with permission from the lifeguard, and the water temperature is above 16). Sandals etc are useful for walking to and from the water.

Do I have to be a BRAT member?

The sessions are for BRATs, their friends, and University of Birmingham triathlon club members.

If you’re a guest of a BRAT member or UoB Tri club member, make sure you have your emergency contact’s details with you to complete the form at registration. You can also download a form to print in advance.

To join BRAT, visit the Membership section of our Club Shop.


The session is lifeguarded by an Open Water Qualified lifeguard and supported by a safety powerboat and spotter.

When you register, you will be issued with a wristband for the session, which must be returned immediately you exit the water.

You must follow the designated course and obey the lifeguard’s and boat driver’s instructions at all times.

Please read the Guidelines, rules, and safety information before attending.

Our Emergency Action Plan.

Session times and dates

Please keep an eye on the BRAT club Facebook groups for changes to sessions. Because of the nature of open water swimming and the safety arrangements it may sometimes be necessary to cancel sessions.

Other things to note

  • Avoid parking under the trees on your right as you pull into the site
  • Any dogs must be kept on a lead
  • The hot water is limited so it’s appreciated if everyone uses it sparingly and makes sure showers and taps are not left running after use. Also, do put the extractor fans on
  • Change in the changing rooms, nudity on site is a no-no