Mental Health Swims

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Mental Health Swims is a national mental health peer support community that hosts inclusive swim meet ups across the country, including at Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge. The focus is on “dips not distances” and on building a supportive community. Anyone aged over 18 is welcome.

This activity is good for wellbeing because

  • It is a peer support space – connecting with other people who have had similar experiences can help you feel less isolated;
  • You can come however you are feeling and know that you will always be welcome and accepted;
  • Spending time in cold water can give your mood a boost, and has been found to have several other health benefits too

What to expect

The aim of Mental Health Swims is to provide a welcoming environment for peer support. Many of the volunteers and attendees have had first-hand experiences of mental health challenges, so you will be met with empathy and understanding. The sessions are a good way to get an introduction to the experience of cold-water swimming, whilst chatting with a friendly group of people. Find out more on the national website.

In Cambridge monthly Mental Health Swim sessions are run by a team of friendly volunteers. Two or three volunteers lead each session and around 10-15 people take part. At each session the volunteers will begin by explaining to the group the many benefits (and potential risks) of swimming in colder water. They will then help you to take the first steps of immersion in the pool if you would like. There is absolutely no pressure to swim if you don’t want to; you are equally welcome to come along, meet the volunteers and spend time with the group.

The session is for adults aged over 18 years. If going in the water, you must be able to swim. Please note that no swimming instruction will be given during the sessions – the facilitators are trained volunteers and not swimming instructors. Cold-water swimming does have risks and you must listen carefully to the advice of the trained volunteers and lifeguards, prior to entering the water.

More information

If you would like to join a Mental Health Swim session you can find the next date and book your place on Cambridge City Council’s website. You can also email [email protected] and ask to be added to the mailing list to get updates about upcoming sessions.

On the day of the session, the swim host will meet you just inside the entrance to the Lido to welcome you and let you know what to expect. They will direct you to the changing rooms and where to meet the rest of the group by the poolside.

If you are going into the water you should wear a swimsuit. Alternatively you can wear tight clothing, like sports leggings or a dry-fit t-shirt/vest. However, you will not be permitted to access the water in loose clothing. A wetsuit and hat is recommended, but these are not essential.

You should also bring a towel and warm clothing to change into, no matter the time of the year. It is best to bring options that are easy to put on – e.g. jogging bottoms, fleeces or dressing gowns.

Badge reading 'Free'

There are 15 free spaces available per Mental Health Swims session and you can attend up to three mental health swims for free. Book your place on Cambridge City Council’s website. You will also need to register for a free BETTER customer account, which will be credited with the free swim. You will be emailed more information about this upon booking.

Badge showing a pound sign

There are additional paid spaces available for each Mental Health Swims session. After you have attended three free sessions you will need to pay for each session you attend. Paid spaces are bookable on the BETTER customer portal once you have a BETTER account. Register here.

Current prices can be found on the Jesus Green Lido page on the BETTER website.  Memberships are also available through GLL (both monthly and pay as you go). You will be emailed more information about this upon booking.

How to contact

Where to go

Jesus Green Lido
Chesterton Rd
Cambridge CB4 3AX

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