No. 42 Go swimming in the sea

Boy kicking and splashing while laying in the sea

Swimming in the sea, no. 42 of our '50 things to do before you're 11¾', is one of those brilliant experiences. It is very different from swimming in a pool, and you'll need to be very careful of currents and tides. But it's wild fun you'll never forget. Follow our tips to help you have the best time.

Choose your beach

There are so many wonderful coastal places for a wild swim. Many UK beaches have Blue Flag awards for the cleanliness of the water and other facilities like lifeguards and whether drinking water is available. 

Think about the tide times and the currents - some beaches aren't suitable for swimming because currents like rip tides can easily catch out swimmers and drag them out to sea.

It also helps to choose a flat, shallow beach, rather than one that slopes away very steeply to the sea. You wouldn't want to suddenly get out of your depth.

A lot of beaches have lifeguards to keep an eye on swimmers in the sea. If they do, you'll probably spot handy flags which show you where it's safest to swim too.

Choose your time of year

The sea tends to be fairly cold all year round in the UK, but you'll find the waves warmer between July and September. If you're lucky enough to go on a beach holiday abroad, you could also tick this challenge off then - any sea counts.

If you are going to swim in the UK, then it's wise to have a wetsuit, especially in the colder months.

Morning or afternoon dip?

Swimming at sunrise or sunset is a special experience. Tread water for a little while if you can, so you can watch the sun glinting off the ripples of the water. Feel the sea gliding through your fingers and toes as you swim. Drink in the moment and make sure you have some fun splashing too.

Whatever time you plan to swim, be aware of the tides and whether it's likely to be a high tide when you're at the beach. 

It's always best to swim with an adult and preferably on a beach with lifeguards too.

See what the experts say

The ASA and the RNLI run Swim Safe which is an initiative to help you learn about why swimming in the sea is not the same as swimming in a pool. You can read more of their advice or sign up for lessons in the links below.