Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Harwood Baths in Lancashire

I've got more than a few memories of these swimming baths. It was in the pool here that I first learned to swim. I would have been 11 years old, in the summer of 1967. I taught myself a strange, uncouth variation on front crawl, so I could stay in the deep end with my (swimming) friends and not be banished to the shallows by the lifeguard. We would spend hour after hour in the water, then go upstairs to the cafe overlooking the pool to drink dandelion and burdock, or Tizer, and eat packets of Rishy crisps.

I would have liked to have a swim here for old times sake, and to see the pool again after forty years, but I didn't have the time and had to be content with a photo.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ramsbottom Baths

I'm spending a couple of wintry weeks in England visiting family. It's been quite cold and wet, but we've only had one day of ice and snow so far. I'm hoping to do quite a bit of moorland walking while I'm here, but I've also set aside time for a swim or two.

My first swim of the English winter was at the heated London Fields Lido in the open air. My next swim was indoors at Ramsbottom Baths, near Bury in Greater Manchester. 

I've got a wee bit of history with this pool. I used to come here way back at the end of the 1970s, and used to swim length after length of very lazy breaststroke. Actually, it's a bit cheeky to describe it as breaststroke - I don't think I ever dipped my head below the water when breathing. Length after length wasn't much of a stretch either as they are only 25 metres.

Today I found it quite odd to swim such short lengths in a chlorine pool (as opposed to a small rock pool). I had done about 20 when they roped off half the pool for aqua aerobics. After that I swam 10 metre breadths to the sounds of "My Boy Lollipop" and "Is This The Way To Amarillo?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

London Fields Lido

I went for a swim at the marvellous London Fields Lido on a cold, grey day in London. It was absolutely pouring with rain, and areas of the park were flooded.

That didn't stop people coming for a swim. There were plenty of people at the lido. Several people cycled through the rain to swim here.

The water is heated to 26 degrees Celsius, so it's pleasant while you're swimming, but a coolish walk to the hot, outdoor showers.

I swam 10 lengths of front crawl and backstroke, then floated along for another couple, just looking at the winter skies above the pool. There was so much steam coming off the water, that, at times, it was like swimming in fog.