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Swimming at Lake Banyoles

Banyoles swimming area The largest freshwater lake in Catalonia is at Banyoles, just north of Girona. We've visited in the past for the walk around the lake, but not actually been to to the lake for swimming. This was a chance to try the water.

Swimming in the lake is only allowed in summer months in certain areas - two are paid for lido type closer to the town - at the bar of Banys Vells, or the Club Natacio. The third area is open to the public, at Caseta de Fuster towards the north of the lake past the sport complex, which is where we visited.

Outside of swimming, the lake itself is mostly used for rowing. There is however, also a 'cruise' boat that does circuits of the lake for tourists and I believe there is also an annual open water swim organised on the lake for more competitive swimmers.

Caseta de Fuster is found just to the north of the sports complex/ prehistoric village. The sports area includes the sports hall itself, areas for walking, picnicking and flat flood meadows that are dry in summer. Lots of families had come for picnics when we visited enjoying the ambience and being close to fresh water. There were also a good mix of Catalan and non-Catalans enjoying the summer sun, with the surprise of seeing a rough game of cricket being played by some Indian families on one of the flat fields (you can find cricket in the unlikeliest of places in Catalonia - almost always played by Indian or Pakistani community - we saw it an empty supermarket car park in Badalona at one time).

There's a short stroll needed along the path to get to Caseta de Fuster along the path. It's difficult to miss because there were plenty of people with towels and inflatables going the same way.

The area itself consists of a relatively small green grass meadow/lido area, and then the swimming area marked out into the lake by a string of yellow floats. It's not a very large swimming area and the green was also pretty crowded with people and towels on the grass. For swimming, you would be able to swim lengths, but the yellow buoys don't extend very far into the lake itself with a result that the waterside area could feel a little cramped compared to say the sea, and the whole area is monitored by two lifeguards.

The water itself was fresh and relatively clear. We were able to see the lake bottom about 2-3 metres down, and it was relatively deep . However, there was little in the way of 'beach' and the water was deep quickly, stepping off rocks from the edge straight up to the middle. And in the area to the right, the water was deep enough close to the edge, that people were jumping from the side into the water.

We didn't swim too much - a length or two up and down along by the floats. It was more for splashing about than just swimming - and a little crowded closer to the water's edge itself. For a change from the sea at the Costa Brava, it was different and definitely worth doing once - particularly for the fresh water - but having swum in a few lakes outside Spain this year, it might feel a little too contained for someone looking for the joys of real wild swimming.

See also: Banyoles lakeside walk - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Sadernes and river pools of St Aniol d'Aguja

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