One of the less admirable pleasures of outdoor swimming is the fact that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m more than aware that the pools and swimming spaces of this world don’t exist for purely for my pleasure, but it’s ever so nice when there aren’t very many of you using them. In fact, there are probably people annoyed that I’ve taken it up since I represent a burgeoning of interest from the last two to three years. It must be irritating for people who’ve been breaking the ice on Hampstead Ponds for 40 years to not have them to themselves quite so often.
So, I am ashamed to admit that when I approached Parliament Hill Lido on a hot day earlier this week (I was off work) the delightful sound of people having fun (especially school holiday kids) left me with a sinking feeling. However, I needn’t have worried, as they’d roped off about a third of the length of the pool for swimming swimming, leaving the rest free for the whooping children (managing to stay warm in 22 degree water by pure force of excitement). After about ten minutes, the lifeguards put in a horizontal divider across the swimming lane. I felt short-changed for about a minute, but it still left a pretty substantial swimming area and the shallow end of the lido is really a bit too shallow anyway. One of my companions was clearly not going to be limited and actually chose to lift the divider up so as to swim the whole length of the pool, back and forth, but that’s her picnic. There was plenty of space. Enough that I’ll generously even concede that I was glad to see the lido so full.