London: Outdoor swimming in London Fields
Here in the UK we’re not known for our sunny skies and golden tans. But we are fond of a good swim, and lots of us in London actually prefer to take a dip out in the open air than under a sports center roof. It may seem like madness, but you might just change your tune when you see the fantastic Lido at London Fields.
The Art Deco pool, dating from 1932, was closed for 18 years before being renovated and re-opened in 2006. The water here, set in an Olympic-sized 50-meter-long pool, is heated to a balmy 26º Celsius (78.8º Fahrenheit) all year round. The vast rectangle of blue is bordered by a broad concrete lounging area, in turn bounded by a series of lockers and changing booths in cheerful primary colors.
A relaxing open-air swim
The water is really clean, and as you bob along you’re overlooked by a block of flats, a few neighboring houses and a couple of the taller trees from London Fields itself. But the rest is open sky, and it’s strangely liberating to paddle about in the early evening and see a pale moon appear above you. Sessions range from public swimming to exercise in lanes according to speed (slow, medium or fast), and there are lessons on offer for various levels of proficiency.
Although winter is approaching, there are a select few who won’t be easing off on their outdoor exploits. Taking the plunge in December is just a bit too terrifying for the likes of me, but for proof that such brave people exist check out the excellent poolside photography series by Madeleine Waller, featuring winter portraits of the heartiest local swimmers.
Here’s a tip for the fashionistas out there: If you’re struggling to find a swimsuit that doesn’t make you cringe with dread, and you’re willing to pay a bit more, try the wonderful Samantha Sage. Her designs are about as flattering you can get, and they inject a bit of vintage-inspired fun into your exercise routine. If only you could find goggles this attractive.
London Fields Lido
Tel: +44 (0)20 7254 9038
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Prices for non-members: £4.10 (adults 16 and over), £2.45 (children)