Let’s imagine that you’re in London, that you’re willing to spend some time not completely obsessed about the fact that the Olympics are in town, and that you have a hankering for some water sports. Luckily, you won’t have to travel too far some pretty interesting choices:
- Brockwell Lido. The first time I heard the term “lido” was while watching Wall-E. In Wall-E, the “lido deck” refers to the outdoor pool and surrounding facilities. In the U.K., a lido is a public outdoor swimming pool. There were once dozens of lidos scattered around London, but now only a few remain, one of which being the Brockwell Lido, which opened in 1937. The Brockwell Lido is a Grade II listed building (a status given to historical and/or special architectural ”buildings” in England and Wales). The 50-meter pool recently had a gym added to its facilities.
- Hampstead Ponds. If you’re looking for some “wilder” swimming these public swimming ponds, which are only 4 miles from the center of London, surely fit the bill. There are three Hampstead Ponds: Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond (for men only), Highgate Ladies’ Bathing Pond (for women only), and a third pond for “mixed bathing.” These three ponds are fed by the underground River Fleet and have been used for swimming since the 1860s! Due to concerns about water quality, there have been attempts to close the ponds, but they have always been overthrown by public opinion. If you’re planning on taking a dip in one of these ponds, you should prepare for some cold water. On a brighter note, you can also prepare to see some resident kingfishers and herons around the pond. The ponds are just a 10 to 15-minute walk from the Hampstead Heath railway station and are open year-round. (The Hampstead Ponds are a popular location for “winter swimming.”)
- West Reservoir Centre. Looking for a place to a bit more than just swim? The West Reservoir Centre is a great spot to take some sailing or kayaking courses. This 30-acre reservoir is well hidden in the London Borough of Hackney and is never too crowded. The word is that it is also home to some exciting games of “canoe polo” if you are up for getting wet!
Hope you enjoy the water!