The Big Bala swim

The BIG Bala Swim, North Wales, UK

Saturday 1st June 2024

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 Big Bala Swim Event Schedule:

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 three shorter swim options of 250m, 500m and 1.5km as well that are 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:

  • NEW! 250m
  • NEW! 500m
  • 1.5km
  • 4.5km (catch the train to the start!)
  • 9km (2 lengths of the 4.5km course)

The swim course is linear, marked by a line of inflatable buoys, with swimmers swimming in both directions during the event. The 9km distance takes in two full lengths of the course. The 4.5km is one length of the course (having caught the train to the start point). The 1.5km, 500m and 250m swims involve swimming out and around an inflatable marker buoy before returning to the finish line.

Cut off time: There is a cut off time of 5 hours for all distances. Additionally, 9km swimmers must reach the turn around point at Llangower in 2hrs 15mins from their start time or they must retire. The race organisers and appointed staff can retire a participant at any time if they judge them not capable of finishing due to fatigue, poor physical condition or any other reason.


Online entry opens: TBC

Online entry closes: 25th May 2024. (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 250m, 500m or 1.5km swim if accompanied in the water by an fee paying adult who will take complete responsibility for them. One adult per child.

Entry numbers are strictly limited!

Entry prices

(Early bird prices are the same as 2023 prices – offer ends 30th September 2023) (Junior = age 8-15 years)

  • NEW! 250m Junior: £28
  • NEW! 250m:  £30
  • NEW! 500m Junior: £28
  • NEW! 500m: £35
  • 1.5km Junior: Early bird £40 /£43
  • 1.5km: Early bird £52 / £55
  • 4.5km: Early bird £75 / £79  (includes train ticket)
  • 9km: Early bird £85 / £89

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
  • Race souvenir
  • Event photography
  • Prize for winners in each distance category

Event Rules & Entry Terms & Conditions 

Please read the updated 2024 Event Rules and Participant Declaration which can be found below, 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 and no deferral policy. Please see Terms and Condtion clauses 5 and 6 regarding optional Refund Protect insurance and the options you have for transferring your entry. Please only enter this event if you are happy with these terms.



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. Please arrive as early as possible!

You must be present yourself to register.


The compulsory briefing will be held on Saturday 1st June 2024 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. All other distance swimmers will make a 10 minute walk to their swim start (no train ride).

Provisional schedule of events

(All times listed are provisional and will be confirmed in the 2024 handbook)

Saturday 1st June 2024

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


Mandatory equipment for wetsuit competitors

  • Swim hats supplied by event organisers must be worn at all times when in the water
  • Neoprene Wetsuit
  • Goggles
  • Tow floats may be used but are not mandatory for wetsuit wearing participants

Mandatory equipment for non-wetsuit competitors

  • Swim hats supplied by event organisers must be worn at all times when in the water
  • Suitable swimwear (shorts style suits and rash vests are acceptable. No neoprene other than that listed below)
  • Goggles
  • 1 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, buoyancy shorts or other floation aids, any power assisted aids.

Event rules

As well as the general rules laid out in the Terms and Conditions, you must also obay the following rules.  

  1. You must follow the marked course and instructions of marshals at all times. Failure to follow instructions will result in disqualification.
  2. Junior participants must remain within 10m of their guardian at all times. There must be one adult per junior participant.
  3. Your total time is from the whistle blowing at the start until you cross the finish line. Your time includes any time spent at feed stations.
  4. There are 2 cut off times as described in the Event Schedule. If you are asked to retire from the race you must do so without question or complaint. Information about the cut off times will be confirmed in the event handbook.
  5. All non wetsuit participants must use a tow float.
  6. If you withdraw from the race you must report this as soon as possible to the organisers and return the timing chip. Lost chips will be charged at £15 each.
  7.  We reserve the right to amend the course subject to weather conditions and the requirements of the management of Padarn Country Park. Any changes will be explained in detail during the Briefing.
  8. Swimmers completeing 6km or 9km must exit the water and pass over the timing mats at each end of the lake before begining the next length.
  9. To participate in the event you must agree to the Participant Declaration.
  10. You must be over 18 years of age on the day of the race to enter the event.
    Participants under this age will need parental consent to take part in the event as set out in the e vent schedule.
  11. The race organisers can prevent a participant from continuing if they judge them not capable due to fatigue or poor physical condition. If you are asked to retire from the race you must do so without question or complaint.
  12. No external assistance is allowed. Each participant has to make their own way from start to finish.
  13. The course is in a lake open to the public and vessles. Any disregard for other users (on land or in water) or dangerous or offensive behavior, including being rude to race officials will result in disqualification.
  14. You must obay the equipment requirements and prohibitions as set out in the event schedule.

Participant Declaration

(Assumption Of Risk for all participants)

I hereby affirm that I am aware of the risk involved with any open water swimming activity.

I understand that open water swimming may involve inherent risks, including but not limited to cold related illness, infection and disease, marine life injuries, drowning or accidents.

I have read the Terms and Conditions, the General Rules and the Event rules and agree to follow them at all times.

I accept the no refund policy and I understand that I have limited entry tranfer options, as set out in the terms and Conditions.

I understand that it is entirely my decision whether to take out optional Refund Protect insurance and that I will carefully check the terms of the policy before doing so to make sure it is suitable for my needs.

I understand and agree that I must stay within the designated swim areas of the course at all times.

I have read the Event Schedule and understand the nature of the event. I am aware of the prerequisite skill level / swimming experience necessary to participate in the events and the dfistance/category I have opted for, and I stipulate that I meet these requirements. I understand that participating in the event may be strenuous and declare that I am medically able, physically fit and properly trained. I have declared any relevant medical details to the organisers.

I understand that I am responsible for supplying my own equipment, as stated in the Event Schedule, in proper working condition, regardless of where I obtained it or from whom. I understand that my equipment will be checked at registration that that I may be prevented from registering if my equipment is not up to standard.

I acknowledge that the event is help in a lake and facilities open to the public during the event and upon which hazards are to be expected.

I acknowledge and agree that participation in the event may carry with it certain inherent risks and dangers that cannot be eliminated completely ranging from risk of minor discomfort to catastrophic injuries including permanent disability and death.

I understand and agree that neither the Organisers of this event nor the sponsors of the event, nor any of their respective officers, agents, or volunteers (hereinafter referred to as ‘Released Parties’) may be held liable or responsible in any way for any injury, death, or other damages to myself, my family heirs or assigns that may occur as a result of my participation in the event or as a result of the negligence of any party, including the Released Parties, whether passive or active.

In consideration of being allowed to participate in the event, I hereby personally assume all risks in connection with it, for any harm, injury, or damage that may befall me while I am participating in the event, including all risks connected therewith, whether foreseen or unforeseen.

I agree to hold harmless the Released Parties from any claim or lawsuit by myself, my family, estate, heirs or assigns, arising out of my participation in the event, including any and all claims arising during my practicing and any arising during or after I complete the Event.

I understand that open water swimming activities are physically strenuous and that I will be exerting myself during the event, I expressly assume the risk of any and all injuries, and I will not hold the Released Parties responsible if I am injured as a result of heart attack, panic, drowning, trips or falls, head injury, or any other cause of injury or death not specifically stated herein.

I understand that all the terms herein are contractual, they are not a mere recital, and my entering online is done of my own free act and in so doing, I waive my legal rights to sue.

I state that I am of lawful age and legally competent to make an online Entry, or that I have the written consent of my parent or legal guardian to engage in the event under the conditions of this waiver as stipulated by their entering on my behalf.

It is my intention to exempt and release all of the Released Parties as defined herein, from all liability whatsoever for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death however caused, including but not limited to the negligence of the Released Parties, whether passive or active.



At Registration, you must produce appropriate photographic personal identification acceptable to the Event Organiser such as driver’s license or passport.


All competitors will receive a handmade local slate medal.

Winners prizes will be supplied by Zone3 & Love SwimRun and will be given out after the race finishes at the Prize ceremony.

Prizes will be awarded to the first 3 male and female swimmers in each wetsuit distance category and first 3 swimmers in the non wetsuit category.

No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. Prizes must be collected on the day.


View 2023 results HERE

View 2022 results HERE

View 2021 results HERE

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!


Parking is availabe at Bala Rugby Club/Clwb Rygbi Y Bala, Maes Gwyniad, Tegid Street, Bala, LL23 7DZ at £4 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.

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 2024 commemorative t-shirts and hoodies will be available for pre-order approx 1 month before the event date (to pick up on the day of the event). These are designed, produced and sold by an independent t-shirt designer. They are etchically produced from organic cotton! They are hand printed locally using environmentally friendly inks.

Love SwimRun and The Big Welsh Swim everyday vinyl printed logo t-shirts and hoodies are available for mail order in the Love SwimRun shop.

Big welsh swim tshirt and hoodie 

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


Hot drinks and snacks will be available to purchase from registration opening. Delicious wood fired pizza will be available to buy when you finish your race. All competitors will receive an eco friendly, local slate, Big Bala Swim medal and a Tribe bar at the finish line. There will also be bananas and biscuits and tanks of water for you to refill your own bottles – we do not give out plastic bottle or cups at the finish line to help reduce plastic waste.

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 Train Station where you will catch the train for the 4.5km swim, but there are public toilets near to the station at 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.


Overnight camping will be available at Bala Rugby Club for £10 per person with use of their shower and toilet facilities. For more information and to book call Tony Parry on 07929 859320.

To see a list of other 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!


Official Event Sponsor

We are exited to have ZONE3 on board as our SwimRun event sponsors. ZONE3 are offering all Love SwimRun participants a 20% discount on their range of products including their SwimRun specific wetsuit, the Evolution! You will receive a special discount code once you have registered for the event.

Swimrun zone3

Official Nutrition Partner

TRIBE will be our 2024 Official Nutrition Partner! Their tasty plant based protein bars are gluten free and made with natural ingredients. They are perfect for performance fuelling and for snacking! Profits from their bars go to the Tribe Freedom Foundation to help fight modern slavery and human trafficking.