Swim Test

Swim Test Dates 2024

Swim Test (School Y4 & above)
Free of charge, but please book a place
Sunday 19th May, 2:00PM
Sunday 8th September, 2:00PM

For children in school Year 4 and above. Children should wear shorts/leggings and T-shirt plus wet/beach shoes. No wet suits. They need their own well fitted buoyancy aid to wear as they are rowed in a dinghy to near the Shiplake bank of the river. From there they will remove their buoyancy aid and swim back to the club. They need to be able to get out of the river onto the pontoon unaided to complete the test. You do not need to be a member of the Wargrave Boating Club to take part in the swim test. Cakes and hot chocolate are provided for all participants. Changing rooms available.


If you’re thinking about signing up for the swim test, you may want to look at our Swim Test FAQ which has more details on what to expect on the day. This is for children aged from 9 to 17, however if you are looking to book a kayak course in May, you are welcome to put your child’s name down for the September swim test if they are still 8.

As a reminder, if you enter the water unexpectedly:
Take a minute. The initial effects of cold water pass in less than a minute so don’t try to swim straight away.
Relax and float on your back to catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float.
Keep calm then call for help or swim for safety if you’re able.

Swim Test FAQs

What to wear?
Children should wear swim shorts, sun top or T shirt, aqua or beach shoes. They cannot pass the Swim Test without shoes or sandals of some description. Don’t forget to bring a towel!

What not to wear?
Children should not wear jeans, sweaters, trainers or wetsuits.

Where do the children swim from and to?
The children are rowed across to the opposite bank (Shiplake side), wearing a buoyancy aid. Depending upon the current, they are dropped off upstream of the Club towards the railway bridge. They then remove their buoyancy aid, get into the river from the dinghy and swim across to the Boating Club land. They should swim directly across the river rather than diagonally across towards the Club because the current will bring them downstream. Please note that they have to get themselves out of the water and onto the bank at the Club unaided.

Will it be cold?
Swimming in the river is not like swimming in a pool. It is usually cold, murky and there are weeds in certain areas nearer to the club by the little island. There can be boats around, although we obviously don’t set your child off unless the river is clear. It can be windy or raining. We explain to the children that, when they first get into the water, they will feel the shock of the cold. They are asked to hold onto the dinghy until they have got their breath back and only when they are ready to start swimming across, do they leave the dinghy.

What happens next?
A kayaker is always very close to your child, guiding your child safely across the river. The dinghy rower is also nearby, giving your child encouragement. At any point should your child feel the need to stop, he or she can simply tread water for a while and then continue. If they feel unable to complete the swim, the kayaker will ask them to hold onto the bow of the kayak and they will be brought safely back to the Club.

Which swim stroke is best?
This is not a race and there is no need for your child to rush. Breast stroke is the better stroke because the swimmer can easily see the kayaker he or she is aiming for, and keep his or her head out of the water. However, it is totally up to the child, some children prefer crawl, others use backstroke if they tire.

Where should I be?
We ask that parents and friends stay on the Boating Club bank to cheer the swimmers on, rather than be alongside on the river.