If I like swimming so much that I write a blog about it, it would be really, really bad form to complain about other people discovering they like it too, wouldn’t it? So I won’t complain about getting to the lido at 11am on Saturday morning and seeing a queue stretching out the building, down the ramp, along the path, across the grass and all the way along the side of the railway tracks as far as the shack cafe. Realising these people were queueing to spend a day at the lido in lovely hot weather with temperate waters, I turned round and went home again and quashed my thoughts of ‘where were they when the water was 17 degrees?’ (‘exercising sanity’ one of my twitter contacts replied). It really is good that people are using the lido and realising what fun swimming is. And maybe they’ll come when the air temperature’s not 31 degrees!
So the next day, I decided I would brave London Fields Lido, even though I knew it would be even more popular because it’s heated. I’m not so dedicated that I’m prepared to give up my one lie-in of the week just to get to the pool before everyone else, so I arrived at 10am to a long queue, which alarmingly seemed to be getting longer behind me without moving particularly. But then it suddenly occurred to me that the problem might be ‘processing’ rather than ‘capacity’. Getting a nice lady to save my place in the queue, I went up to the cash desk and lo, was told that as a member I could swipe in myself. Hurrah! and the pool itself wasn’t particularly more crowded than it often is on a weekday evening (although there was barely any sunbathing space left even at that time). The only thing I’d say is that there must have been more ‘amateurs’ there than usual because the pace of the slow and medium lanes was, almost, slow and medium. I even swam in the medium lane for about ten minutes before being taken over by some front crawlers.
So, I’m *more* than happy for the rest of the world to like swimming too, even if it’s just for one day a year, given that I queue-jumped ahead of them all.
Bit late this (it closes on 23rd August), but I finally made it to this charming exhibition at Parliament Hill Lido on Monday. A small display of posters and artefacts (including some rather cool mid-20th century knitted swimming costumes) much of it was familiar from Susie Parr’s Story of Swimming but it was still hugely fun. I particularly liked the ephemera devoted to swimming heroes of yore, especially Captain Webb, the first channel swimmer. The very jolly curator helpfully explained to me why Webb would have been disqualified under current channel swimming rules and described the diet of beef tea and whisky which probably didn’t do much to sustain him on his crossing. As a special bonus, there was a bassetts sweet cigarette picture of Duncan Goodhew from the 1970s which I’m convinced is identical to one on the back of a Bunty special full-length picture story I once owned. Shame I’m not quite so good at recognising Duncan in the flesh.
I’ve been visiting friends in Petersfield for around 7 years and finally made it to Hampshire’s only outdoor pool this last Saturday. In some ways, I just wanted to tick it off the list, and assumed that it would be too small, too hot and too crowded. I was wrong. The water was at least as fresh as London Fields Lido (too hot for Outdoor Swimming Friend, who remembers it as being ‘hot and shallow’ but then she goes to Tooting Lido at 0 degrees) and at the time I went, not too crowded at all (as I left, the gates were being opened to families, so this may have changed later in the day). There’s a wide-ish lane for crawl swimmers, but I didn’t have a problem swimming around and past people in the main part of the pool as a fast breast-stroker. And in general the atmosphere was genial and jolly. I even had a nice chat about the women’s Olympic outdoor swimming while showering (we were costumed: the showers are segregated but it didn’t seem like the kind of place people showered nude). It’s not the biggest pool in the world, but at 9.45 on a warm Saturday morning was just the right size and enough to give anyone a lift.