First event at Kielder went swimmingly well

Swimmer Helen Smith was crowned champion of the first open water swimming event in northern Europe’s largest man-made lake today (Sunday September 7). 

Helen, aged 20, from Devon and currently living in Liverpool city centre, joined more than 100 people who took part in the inaugural event at Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland.

The Liverpool University student, who only decided to take part last week, completed the 10k race across Northumbrian Water’s giant reservoir in 2 hours 33 minutes and 18 seconds. Other distances on offer were 3.8k ‘iron’ distance and the classic one mile.

Helen said: “The swim was really good fun. I thought I was going to have to sing songs in my head to keep me going but it went a lot quicker than I thought it would. The water was cold at the beginning but it was nice at the end, it was actually very refreshing!”

Nick Valentine, aged 33, from Gosforth, Newcastle, was the winner of the 3.8k swim, completing it in 51 minutes 47 seconds. He said: “It was a brilliant race. I trained in a swimming pool but I really enjoyed swimming out here in this beautiful reservoir for the first time. The cold water was a bit of a shock but then you get used to it.”

The 114 swimmers braved temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius and depths of up to 170 feet (52 metres) in Kielder Water, which holds 2.5 billion bathfulls of water.

Liz Sidebotham took part in the 3.8k swim to raise money for Northumbrian Water’s adopted international charity, WaterAid. She said: “I completed the race in 1 hour and 33 minutes and I’m really pleased with my time.

"I’ve been a supporter of WaterAid for a long time and thought this was a fantastic opportunity to get involved because of the link with Northumbrian Water.”

The swimmers were presented with medals by Olympic Medallist and former World Record Holder, Jo Jackson. 

Jo said: “I’m delighted to be in this beautiful location, supporting the swimmers at Kielder’s first dedicated swimming event. It’s a unique opportunity to get into the water here as swimming is never allowed under normal circumstances. It is a very deep and very cold, dangerous place to swim, but this was a special event organised by professionals, Vital Events.

“Hopefully there will be another open water swim here again next year and if there is I might even take part in the 3.8k!”

Kielder Open Water swim race results:

10k swim:
First: Helen Smith, age 20, from Liverpool – 2 hr 33 min 18 sec
Second: Graeme Sutton, age 55, from Carlisle – 2 hr 38 min 23 sec
Third: Jonathan Grundy, age 31, from Chorley, Newcastle – 2 hr 41 min 21 sec

3.8k swim:
First: Nick Valentine, age 33, from Gosforth, Newcastle - 51 min 47 sec
Second: David Chaney, age 46, from Gateshead – 52 min 37 sec
Third: Nick Parkes, age 53, from Stokesley, North Yorkshire – 53 min 20 sec
First female (5th overall position): Pippa Wilson, age 37, from Hexham – 58 min 35 sec

1 mile swim:
First: Matthew Grant, age 50, from Whickham – 25 min 12 sec
Second: Angela Stewart – 26 min 56 sec
Third: Geoff Armstrong – 27 min 16 sec

For more information and images, contact Janine Scott from Northumbrian Water:
Tel: 0191 301 6713 or email

First event at Kielder went swimmingly well