This year has been fairly poor on new swimming places. I’ve pretty much kept to my usual haunts: Kentish Town pool, The oasis, Highgate pond, Clissold Pool and London Fields Lido. In fact, I haven’t been to any new pools in London – and some of that must be to do with having a Swim London card. I have had a few new outdoor swims: beaches in Brittany and Spain, Hathersage pool, Mumbles head and, most notably, the estuary of the River Yar. I’d like to do more, but PhD work has made me not very mobile.
So, my ambitions for 2012: more river swims (I like them best but hardly ever do them). London pools including Tooting and Brockwell Lidos, Marshall Street!! and Richmond Pools in the Park. Swim off the beach at Northumberland. Petersfield Lido. And it seems I’m likely to be going to Malawi and possibly Mozambique later in the year, so not being eaten by a crocodile might be a good ambition.
Happy getting wet in 2012 everyone!
This amazing picture was the never-built plan for the replacement of Endell St Baths. Taken from Camden Local History Society’s flickr stream but not reproduced because all rights reserved – which is a great shame from a local authority.
I’m currently working very part-time funny hours which means that I get to use pools when they’re not very busy. This has had two interesting effects. The first is that I realise that my view of swimming as a very popular sport is probably exaggerated: outside of the pre- and post- work rush hours, most swimming pools are really quite empty. And secondly, I have started to like the Oasis, the central London pool so convenient to use and so annoying in so many ways.
Having previously devoted a post to listing its faults, it’s only fair for me to redress this by addressing its virtues.
1. Although the water is warm, and the location very urban, there is a real sense of joy in lifting your head out of the water into the fresh air – especially when it’s really cold
2. It’s extremely conveniently located for London’s fashionable West End, and also the Universities in which I work and study.
3. It’s in the Swim London scheme.
4. The staff these days are really friendly
5. The showers are warm, powerful and last a long time without your having to keep pressing the button
It seems to me that most of my ire for the pool probably derived from the aggressive swimming habits of the rush hour crowd. Even the grotty changing rooms (which, as Jenny Landreth has pointed out, have no surfaces on which you can lay your stuff) are alright really, and don’t have the brutal air conditioning which spoils the wet changing rooms at Kentish Town. So, well done Oasis. I’ll miss you when I go back to work full time.
Last Thursday I went to the pond before 8.30am, a rare occurence for me (believe me, the run up there was painful). I’ve become accustomed to joining in with conversations where it seems relevant – after all, if you’re standing naked next to three women in an enclosed space and you’ve all just voluntarily submerged yourselves in 9 degree water, there can’t really be many secrets between you. The conversation was big on organisational and committee matters which made me think I might be in the company of POND ROYALTY, the ladies who run the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association. Anyway, I suddenly realised that the question ‘is this your first winter?’ was addressed to me. Rather than say ‘No it’s my third’, I simpered and said that I didn’t normally get there that early and didn’t even become cross when the lady in question started talking about how wonderful it was that all different kinds of people were using the ponds now. I think she meant young people and I think she thought I was younger than I am … but it wasn’t a great way to make me feel welcome, well-intentioned as it was. Never mind. I should feel honoured really.