A Tale of Two Lidos

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Swimming
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It was going to be a warm day and we fancied a little bit of history and adventure. The plan was hatched, a visit to Tooting Bec Lido followed by a trip to the Serpentine. Train tickets were bought, it was going to happen.

Whoop whoop

The vast expanse of Tooting Lido from the viewpoint of someone eating cheesy chips

The last time I was at Tooting Lido was for the Cold Water Championships. Then it was a hustling hotbed of people. This time it was very different. There was a lovely lawn where the tents were and the water was a lot warmer. “It’s 17 degrees” we were informed by someone leaving the pool. That’s slightly warmer than the sea water we swam in the week before.

The one overwhelming feature of Tooting Lido is its length, it seems to go on forever. It makes twenty five meter pools seem claustrophobic and laughs at the inadequacy of fifty meter pools. It’s almost like wild swimming. If it wasn’t for the smell of chlorine and the bright blue it would be wild swimming. I can see why this is a training haven for long distance swimmers. I loved every length relishing the freedom of the pool and measuring the distance travelled by the number of coloured changing room doors I passed.

We celebrated a lovely swim with a plate of cheesy chips before tackling the underground to emerge in Hyde Park


The vast expanse of the Serpentine Lido from the viewpoint of someone not too sure if it’s a duck toilet or not

The Serpentine Lido was a completely different experience. We approached via the manicured gardens of Hyde Park and then a stroll along the banks of the Serpentine. I’d heard the Serpentine being referred to as “a giant duck toilet” and there very certainly enough ducks and geese here to make that seem true.

Entering the Lido was like entering a secret world. The Lido is shielded from public gazes and is reached by going over a bridge to the water’s edge. No one is  going to be here by mistake. The Lido is actually a cordoned off bit of the lake. The buoys keep the boats out but not the two swans that were floating serenely on the water. The water wasn’t too cold but it could not be described as warm either. It was just like swimming in a lake because that was exactly what we were doing. There was weed on the bottom and the occasional duck bobbing about. This was open water swimming even though we were somewhat restricted by the buoys.

There was a down side, there are no warm showers, so there was no opportunity to wash after, unless you count the very cold shower on the shore. This shouldn’t be a problem but the maddening itching on the way home said otherwise.


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