Canary Wharf’s open-water swimming spot has officially reopened

Middle Dock is back and ready to welcome wild swimmers

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence
Contributing writer
Canary Wharf swimmers
Photograph: Sean Pollock

Canary Wharf’s open-water swimming spot, Middle Dock, is now officially back open for the summer season, and organisers have promised it is ‘completely clean’ to swim in.  

People might be wary of swimming in the Thames, as last week concerns were raised about levels of harmful bacteria from sewage found in the river. Campaign group River Action said its water sampling by citizen scientists in Henley showed ‘alarmingly high levels’ of E.coli bacteria, which can cause serious infections. 

However, you don’t need to worry – the spot isn’t actually within the Thames. Love Open Water, which runs Middle Dock, promises that the outdoor pool is totally safe for swimming. It said tests had shown the water levels had ‘consistently exceeded the minimum requirements for bathing standards’ and that it was ‘completely clean and safe to swim in’.

A spokesperson explained that Middle Dock is ‘spring fed by an aquifer which filters the water through layers of Thanet sand and gravel resulting in its superb water quality and unrivalled clarity’.

‘During the early development of Canary Wharf, a cofferdam was put in at the entrance of Middle Dock, fully closing it off from the surrounding docklands and the river Thames. It is entirely enclosed and totally untouched by any overflows or waste,’ they added. 

Although Middle Dock is safe for splashing about, the bacteria in the Thames doesn’t bode well for the future of river swimming in the capital. Reports of E. coli in the water comes a month after it was revealed that sewage flowed into London’s waterways for a whopping 12,000 hours last year, up three times the amount from 2022. Despite this, Sadiq Khan has pledged for the Thames to be swimmable by 2034.

Middle Dock is open for swimming four days a week, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can book sessions online now.

These are the best lidos and outdoor swimming pools in London.

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