No 388-396. Take to the lidos for an outdoor swim

8 Sep

The sun was shining and I was relaxing by an outdoor pool in my bikini.  A Mediterranean break?  A tropical holiday?  Believe it or not, I was in Hackney…

On one of the recent sunny days we’ve been enjoying, I caught the train to London Fields lido.  I’ve been concentrating on a lot of the food related 1000 things to do and it was time to work off some of that eating! 

At 50m, this lido is the only Olympic-sized outdoor pool in London and just a couple of weeks ago, the American Paralympic swimming team were training here. 

London Fields lido

As well as indoor changing rooms there are outdoor cubicles, which are great if you want to get straight into your swim gear and do a few laps – or in my case, find a comfy spot and lie in the sunshine.   There are no loungers but there is a terraced area by one end of the pool and a café with food and drink at the other end.

Originally opened in 1930’s, the lido was closed in the late 1980s following cuts in government funding and in 1990 it was threatened with being bulldozed to make way for new developments. The local residents began a long and hard-fought campaign to save the lido and it was reopened in 2006 with the residents contributing to the new design.

The story lends a certain romance to this outdoor swimming pool and shows what a special place it holds in the heart of the local community.

The lido awaiting refurbishment

For those willing to brave colder temperatures, the lido is open all year round and is maintained at a steady temperature of 25C.  After a while dozing in the sun, I worked myself up to get into the pool.  Heated it may be, but that first jump in feels icy!  After a couple of laps though you get into the swing of it and swimming outdoors with the sun shining on you, is one of life’s simple pleasures. 

The pool is divided into lanes for earnest swimmers (slow, fast and medium) as well as a play area for those wanting a splash around.  Every morning from 6.30am to 9.30am is for lane swimming and there’s a women-only session on Tuesday evenings. 

London Fields lido 2012

It really is for everyone and I felt just as comfortable relaxing poolside as I did doing a few laps.  There were people there to soak up the sun while reading their Sunday papers with no intention of swimming, serious swimmers and kids splashing about in the pool.  It’s the perfect way to spend an English summer’s day.

I only wish it were close enough for early morning swims but maybe I’ll make it a regular weekend swim.  I’m not brave enough for a winter swim but I’m definitely going to make the most of outdoor swimming while the sun is still shining. 

London Fields Lido, Hackney, London, E8 3EU

Tel: 020 7254 9038

Opening times:  Mon-Fri  6.30am-8.00pm / Sat & Sun  8.00am-6.00pm

More information can be found here – http://www.better.org.uk/leisure/london-fields-lido/

For a list of all London lidos see http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/1038/lidos-and-outdoor-swimming-pools-in-london

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