The early hours of Saturday morning are often wakeful or fitfully-sleeping ones for me. If I’m awake past the end of World Service, I normally I aim to hear either I-PM or Farming Today, but sleep through Open Country, which I find a bit twee. However, having been wide awake for World Sport about 2.30am BST, I drifted off and woke up when the words ‘Hampstead Ponds’ entered my dreams. Yes Open Country had a whole programme about the Ponds, including an excellent anecdote from Caitlin Davies (who’s book would make an excellent birthday present for any keen outdoor swimmer who turns 40 this year, just sayin’) about the lifeguard who shouted at regular intervals so the topless sunbathers would turn onto their backs, until somebody knitted nipple covers for them.
Meanwhile I had what felt like an exceptionally cold lido swim this morning. It might be that some 18 degrees are more equal than others. Or it might be that because I’d fallen asleep again after my alarm went off, I was still asleep less than 15 minutes before getting into the water.
<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/christinegrossutti/history-of-swimming-in-kingston” title=”History of Swimming in Kingston” target=”_blank”>History of Swimming in Kingston</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/christinegrossutti” target=”_blank”>christinegrossutti</a></strong> </div>
This makes me annoyed with myself – three years ago I spent 5 days in Kingston, Ontario where there’s a bloody big lake. Admittedly it hardly stopped raining, but I never plucked up courage to pop down to the lakeside and have a plunge. Anyway, more slideshare archive histories of swimming, please!
As a follow-up to my Oasis post, I should add another plus and another minus regarding the ladies’ changing rooms. Plus! the hooks are now at a height that a 5’2” woman can reach without being on tiptoe. Minus! television / radio on constantly and piped through speakers (although it was on low yesterday evening and far less intrusive).
I’ve been going a lot to Parliament Hill Lido for ‘mainstream’ swims this summer. I think my original motivation was shock that I’d, once again, paid for an annual pass when there was absolutely no way that I was going to use it enough to make it worthwhile (at £180 per year – why do I do it? it’s only £2 to go to the pond and £2.50 for an early morning or late-evening lido swim and it’s not often I’ll get to either during the day, even while they’re still open). However, it’s very close to home and I’ve found that at 18 degrees I can do 25 minutes fairly comfortably and 20 or higher is fine. This was not true two years ago so it’s really true that you get used to colder water and even start to crave it. I still wear neoprene socks and mittens in these types of temperatures which makes me stand out a bit: most lido-goers just wear their costumes at this time of year and competition swimmers are in wetsuits. Quite frankly, if there were neoprene bum and nose protectors, I’d buy them as it’s those bits that really start to hurt after 20 minutes. I’m a lightweight really.
I recently started back in full-time work and had my first pre-work swim, a painful experience for this non-morning person. There seemed to be a lot of regulars (one woman said to another ‘you weren’t here yesterday – don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone’) and I incurred the wrath of one. The lido only has one adjustable shower: the others are ‘too cold’ and ‘too hot’. I was amazed to find I was the only person in the shower when I got out the pool and excitedly nabbed it. However, I subsequently discovered the privilege was too much to bear. Being water-conservation minded, I turn the shower off when I’m not actually rinsing shampoo or conditioner off and one lady, braving it out in ‘too cold’ pointed at me and said ‘is that shower on?’. Not getting her point, I said ‘no’, then realised the unspoken ‘then why are you hogging it’ and had to add ‘but I promise I’ll use it again in a second’. Thereafter, ensued the fastest rinse-off I could manage and a swift departure so that my companion to get to use ‘her’ shower…. But, after all, you won’t see me at the lido when the temperature drops below 10 degrees. No, thanks very much, I’ll be at the pond.
It’s been a while since my last post due to ridiculous quantity of studying, working and domestic commitments. But, finally, something’s happened which has prodded me out of my inertia. The Oasis ladies’ changing room has had a refurb which has really made a difference (something I said could never happen). The new tiling, wooden benches and lockers really do make the subterranean changing room look nice and the ‘vanity’ area is nicer than some hotel spas. Of course it will date but I’ve been here before with this pool and this is the first time that a renovation has resulted in the loss of that grim and dingy feeling (and there have been many over the years).
Of course it’s not all perfect… there’s only one bin in the entire room and it’s miles away from the shower which didn’t exactly encourage me to dispose responsibly of the hair I’d combed out while washing it. The only tissues are in the loos. I had to queue to get hold of some so that I could wipe my face of make-up before I got into the pool. And, while they’ve got rid of those weird benches with no solid surface on which to put things, the completely solid wood benches now leave nowhere to hang a wet swimming costume without it dripping all over the floor.
But, it really does look nice and makes weeks of walking through the ENTIRE sports centre in a wet cozzy to get to the back entrance during the building work feel worthwhile. Meanwhile, progress on the indoor pool seems to be slow, meaning that outdoor pool crowding continues apace. But, one problem at a time, eh?