The Big Bala swim

The BIG Bala Swim, North Wales, UK

Saturday 3rd June 2023

All aboard the swim train!

Catch the historic stream train along the shores of Llyn Tegid, Wales’ largest natural lake, to start your swim! Surrounded by the beautiful Aran, Arenig and Berwyn mountain ranges, the lake has suberb views and plenty of wildlife to spot along the way.


The Course

The BIG Bala Swim (Not to be confused with our other event, The Big Welsh Swim) will take place in Llyn Tegid, Bala, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. The main open water swim route is 4.5km. To reach the start you will catch the historic Bala Lake Railway to Llangower station where you’ll find the beach start. For those that want a bigger challenge we also have a 9km swim that takes in two lengths of the 4.5km course. We have a shorter swim option of 1.5km as well that is open to children of 8 years upwards (must be accompanied on the swim by a fee paying adult).

Wetsuit and non-wetsuit places are available!

location: Llyn Tegid, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales.
Registration: Clwb Rygbi Y Bala, Maes Gwyniad, Tegid Street, Bala, LL23 7DZ

Swim Distances:

  • 1.5km (you will not catch the train for this swim)
  • 4.5km
  • 9km (you will not catch the train for this swim)

Cut off time: There is a cut off time of 4.5 hours for all distances. The race organisers and appointed staff can retire a participant at any time if they judge them not capable of finishing due to fatigue or poor physical condition.


Online entry opens: Open Now!

Online entry closes: 28th May 2023. (No entry changes can be made after this time)

You must be over 16 years of age on the day of the race to enter the event. Children aged 8 and above can complete the 1.5km swim if accompanied in the water by an fee paying adult who will take complete responsibility for them.

Please read our terms and conditions (updated for 2023) carefully before entering.

Entry prices

  • 1.5km: Adult £52 / Junior (age 15 & under) £40 (no train included)
  • 4.5km: £75  (includes train ticket)
  • 9km: £85  (no train included)

Entry fee includes:

  • Full water safety cover
  • Train ticket (for 4.5km swim only)
  • Event swim hat
  • Electronic timing
  • Food at 9km feed station and at event finish (see feed station info)
  • Race souvenir
  • Event photography
  • Prize for winners in each distance category

Equipment requirements

Mandatory equipment for wetsuit competitors

  • Swim hats supplied by event organisers must be worn at all times when in the water
  • Neoprene Wetsuit (unless registered as a non-wetsuit participant)
  • Goggles (you swim without goggles at your own risk)
  • Tow floats may be used but are not mandatory for wetsuit wearing participants

Mandatory equipment for non-wetsuit competitors

  • Suitable swimwear (shorts style suits and rash vests are acceptable. No neoprene other than that listed below)
  • Swim hats supplied by event organisers must be worn at all times when in the water
  • Goggles (you swim without goggles at your own risk)
  • Tow float (must be a dedicated swimming tow float)

Additional equipment that may be used: Neoprene socks and non-webbed neoprene gloves, neoprene hat (worn under event swim cap), ear plugs

Additional equipment that may NOT be used: Snorkles, flippers, hand paddles, webbed gloves, headphones, pull buoy or any other floation aids, neoprene vest (only if registered as a non wetsuit swimmer), any power assisted aids.


Registration will take place: Bala Rugby Club/Clwb Rygbi Y Bala, Maes Gwyniad, Tegid Street, Bala, LL23 7DX,

You will be issued with your event hat and timing chip. Please arrive as early as possible! If  you do not arrive to register by the closing time your place will be forfeited.


The compulsory briefing will be held at TBC at Bala Rugby Club. Anyone who does not attend the briefing will not be allowed to swim. 4.5km swimmers will then make a 5 minute walk to board the train which will leave promptly at 10.00am so will need to be ready to leave straight after the briefing. If you miss the train you will need to make your own way to the swim start. 1.5km swimmers will make a 10 minute walk to their swim start.  Participants doing a 1.5km swim do not need to catch the train.


Parking is availabe at Bala Rugby Club/Clwb Rygbi Y Bala, Maes Gwyniad, Tegid Street, Bala, LL23 7DZ at £3 for the day. Other carparks close by are pay and display (approx £5 for the day). Disabled parking is available but cannot be reserved. Please do not park on the roads or cause any obstructions to access or gate ways.

Bag drop

There will be a place for 1.5km and 9km swimmers to leave shoes/1 SMALL bag close to the swim start. 4.5km swimmers may take shoes/1 SMALL bag with them on the train and this will be transported by van to the finish line to be picked up at the end of your swim. Please only leave essential items and do not place fragile or valuable items in the bag drop as we cannot take repsonsibility for them. No large dry robes please.


Provisional schedule of events

(Times will be confirmed in the event handbook which will be released one month before the event)

07:30  Registration opens
09:15  Registration closes
09.30  Route and safety brief
10:00  Train for 4.5km swimmers departs
10:10  Race start – 9km swimmers
10:15  Race start – 1.5km swimmers
13:30  Prize giving

Race rules & Terms & Conditions

Please read the updated 2023 race rules and terms and conditions of entry throughly before signing up. You can read them in full here.  Please be aware that we offer a no refunds policy. You are permitted to transfer your entry into another name up to 1 week before the event date. Please only enter this event if you are happy with these terms. Please see our FAQ page for more information. We recommend you take out individual sports event insurance to cover any losses due to unexpected circumstances that prevent you from taking part.
Refunds, minus booking fees, will be offered if the event is cancelled by us.

Event Handbook

An event handbook which contains all the information you will need will be available a few weeks before the event. You will be emailed a link to the handbook. Please read all the information throughly to get the best out of the day!

Water temperature

Going on average water temperatures over the last few years, we expect the water temperature in Llyn Tegid to be between 13°C and 16°C for the Big Bala swim event. The temperature in the lake can vary quite a lot depending on the amount of rainfall and sunshine we have but we will keep you updated on the water temperature in the run up to the event.

Event merchandise

The Big Bala Swim 2023 commemorative tshirts are available for pre-order (to pick up on the day of the event). These will be availabe to order approx 1 month before the event date. They are ethically produced from organic cotton using only renweable energy! They are hand printed locally using environmentally friendly inks.

Event Sponsor

We are super exited to have Zone3 on board as our Big Bala Swim event sponsors. They will be suppling the winners of each category with a prize. Zone3 are also offering all Love SwimRun participants a 10% discount on their range of swimming gear and wetsuits! You will receive a special discount code once you have registered.


Nutrition Partner

TRIBE will be helping to fuel you on our events this year as our official nutrition partner! Their tasty plant based energy and protein bars are made with natural ingredients and are gluten free. They are perfect for performance fuelling and for snacking! Profits from the bars to got the Tribe Freedom Foundation to help fight modern slavery and human trafficking.

Tribe  Love Swimrun

Our Charity Partner – RNLI


We are so pleased to be supporting RNLI. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Powered by your kind donations, their search and rescue service has been saving lives for nearly 200 years.

Every day of every year, people of all backgrounds get into danger in the water. The RNLI offer a 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service and a seasonal lifeguard service. Their volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards help and rescue thousands of people and have saved over 143,000 lives since 1824. Countless more lives are saved through their youth education and water safety campaigns.

Please help the RNLI continue to help save lives at sea by selecting to make a donation when you enter. Every little bit will help and every penny will go straight to the RNLI. If you are interested in raising sponsorship funds for the RNLI in return for a FREE ENTRY please email

Prizes & pizza eating!

Hot drinks, snacks and delicious pizza will be available to buy when you finish your race from a wood fired pizza stall. All competitors will receive a Big Bala Swim Medal at the finish line. Prizes from Zone3 and Love SwimRun will be awarded to the first 3 male and female swimmers in each wetsuit distance category and first 3 swimmers on the non wetsuit category. No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered.

Toilet & shower facilities

There are toilets, changing rooms and showers available at the rugby club. Public toilets, changing rooms and showers are available close to the finish line. There are no toilets at Bala town station where you will catch the train for the 4.5km swim, but there are public toilets near to the swim start.


By car: Bala typically is 4.30 hours from London by car, 1.30 hours from Manchester. The post code for Clwb Rygbi Y Bala/Bala Rugby Club is LL23 7DZ. Public transport: The closest mainline train station to Bala is in Blaenau Ffestiniog, but the onward public transport connections from there are not simple. The best option is Wrexham and from there a bus service runs to Bala – although it takes about 90 minutes.


To see a list of local accommodation providers go to here.

Spectator info

Spectators are welcome to come and support you at The BIG Bala Swim! There are plenty of good spots from which to support people participating. There is disabled access to the registration & finish area though some of this is on a rough track, not tarmac.

The first public train will run at 11.00am from Llanuwchllyn. There will not be places available on the participants swim train for friends/family members I am afraid but spectators can drive down to Llangower station to watch participants start their swim. If you take any photos or videos we would love to see them! If you or any of your supporters are interested in marshalling, please get in touch!