I have finished my Aspire swim challenge to swim the length of the English Channel. Team Aspire have been very generous with their encouragement and praise, I don’t think many of their swimmers continued their challenges in unheated waters into November… Due to a glitch on the system it’s not showing up as DONE, but hey I AM all done, and here I am feeling very happy after a final 6 lengths in Parliament Hill Lido. Water 6’C if you’re interested. Thank you to my very kind and generous sponsors.
So what to do next? I’ve had one indoor swim. That’s the only indoor one since April. Urgh. Started off ok but got derailed when half pool siphoned off for blessed 3pm adult swimming lessons. Argh. I was yearning to swim outside again under open skies breathing in fresh air.
Charlton is in south east London, on the edge of Blackheath. So not that local to north London. But hey today my family was busy and didn’t need me or the laundry service; the boys team were off to play football and then to go watch Brighton play grown up football, and one half of the girls team was having a post-sleepover-shop on Oxford Street (and discovering just how far her pocket money won’t stretch). Did I want to stay at home mouldering over said laundry, shopping and things or would I rather finally get to Charlton. It’s been on my list for 2 years.
I phoned Charlton Lido. ‘Are you open all day?’
“Yes” came the cheery reply.
‘Is the whole pool open?’
“Yes” responded the incredulous receptionist, as if to say “well of course we are!” (Cue hats off to leisure operator Better. Other lido operators close off lanes judiciously dependent on how many swimmers are in the water, which rather defeats the fun of a lido swim when I believe there should be scope to swim solo in a lane, as a reward for swimming outdoors come rain, sleet, snow and shine.)
How liberating I thought as I embarked on the walk – tube – train – bus journey. I had just a nifty little bag with me, no whopping great rucksack concealing my single duvet sized glorious Dry Robe. No need for that as Charlton’s lido is a 50 metre beauty kept at a balmy 25-27’C through the winter.
I was so excited to get there that I got into the water a tad too enthusiastically, ignoring many signs saying ‘Deep Water’ so sort of fell in. It was extraordinary. The water was properly warm, not noticeably chlorinated (of course it was, but none of that indoor-skin-stinging-sensation), and best of all the warmth made clouds of steam to swim through. I relaxed into my first proper swim for some time, when there was no need to focus on kidding my brain it wasn’t freezing I could just switch off and get on with creating a rhythm and making my legs as long as possible.
I got out on top of the world, right up on that familiar post swim high and full of a deep, deep contentment. Thank you Charlton for feeding my lido obsession. And thank you BETTER for ensuring your entire leisure portfolio subsidises the heating at Charlton. It was glorious.