As mentioned in the @audioboo below, I do believe that I have finally found a solution to the lack of swimming pools soon to be open in Lambeth. With the Rotten Borough about to close all three pools, the answer to my daily swimming dilemma can be found over in the West End.
A friendly, clean, outdoor (gosh) pool? Blimey. Why then has it taken me the best part of fifteen years to finally take a plunge in to the brilliant Oasis outdoor pool on Endell Street?
A bit of business to attend in town, and so I thought I would put to use my GLL Swim London card. Clap’ham has been something of a challenge of late. I love the old pool to bits, but the daily routine of putting in the lengths in a sterile, soulless indoor pool, was becoming something of a routine.
Time for a new challenge, time to explore the GLL website, documenting exactly where my Swim London membership allows me access to. Brockwell Lido was well off the radar, whereas the lovely London Fields Lido was part of the package, if slightly off the radar when it comes to a midwinter cycle.
And then – aye, aye, what’s this? Oasis Pool, right in the heart of London’s glittering West End? Gosh. I’ll have a bit of that then.
I’ve no idea why it has taken fifteen years of London living for me to finally swim in the Oasis outdoor pool. I’ve known of its existence, yet somehow swam elsewhere. That’s what living close to a truly stunning Olympic size art deco lido does to a young man.
And so I rolled up to WC2, swiped my GLL card at reception, and was then led on a voyage of uncertainty and discovery, and one, which one-hour later, would leave me grinning for the rest of the afternoon.
There’s something rather special about swimming in any new pool. There’s the uncertainty of an unfamiliar changing room routine; the anticipation of a new pool in which test yourself, and the pleasure of meeting new, like-minded swimming freaks.
Add into the equation the Oasis effect of a 29 degrees outdoor pool with steam rising as fast as the rain fell, and you can see why my mid-morning dip was genuinely one of the highlights of the festive season.
You feel special at Oasis, as soon as you have made the morally superior decision to swim outdoors. Straight out of the changing rooms and you are presented with a choice – a left turn for the identikit indoor pool, or eyes right for the outdoor walk into the uncertainty of the lido environment.
Which way d’ya reckon I walked?
Once water bound, I knew from previous experiences that I had to swim ASAP. The water was tepid, but the air outside wasn’t. The coldness hits you with each rotation of the neck to take on air. Best to keep on breathing, etc, but it made it bloody cold as I lifted my head out of the water after every four strokes.
The pool itself is clean, well-kept and fast flowing. I encountered little resistance as I put the lengths in. Instead of the Clap’ham jet stream that propels you away from the shallow end, the closest I came to being put off-stroke was the odd floating leaf.
I took pity on the poor lifeguard, sheltering from the sleet, yet still doing a fine job on duty. Lidos are wonderful, enchanting places during more pleasant climes; they can be pretty crappy places when you are reduced to taking cover in the slipstream of the rising steam.
Forty lengths later and I felt full of life. It wasn’t quite the epiphany of the Brockwell Icicle experience, but it was the change of routine that my Clap’ham days throughout the autumn months have been begging for.
I’ll probably be back very soon, either through enforcement as the Rotten Borough fails to implement any form of leisure policy, or simply through enjoyment and a love of outdoor swimming.