It has certainly been a while since I tried a new swimming pool, Clissold and the London Aquatics Centre are serving us well. However, the Olympic pool gets booked out for galas at weekends. I heard through a friend about a rooftop pool in central London, so thought that might be worth a shot.
The pool opens at 9.30am on Saturday and Sunday, which is great when I do get asked to swim earlier at the Olympic pool, so that grants a bit of a lie in. It’s £5.05 to go for a swim and when you walk through to the back, you can see the lovely outdoor pool out on the terrace. Buuuut I’m way too much of a chicken to swim outdoors until at least March. Good job they also have an indoor pool. Either way, the ladies changing rooms are downstairs.
The changing rooms are massive, there are plenty of huge cubicles big enough for 2 people, and a big changing space as well. The lockers are exceptionally roomy (YES!) and take 20p, which of course you don’t get back.
Once you manage to find the door that leads out to the pool, it’s a flight of very freezing cold stairs up to the pools. You can head outside from here, or go into the nice cosy pool instead, as I did. The pool itself seems quite old, but nice enough, it’s got smooth tiles all over the walls and floor of the pool, and it’s a bit dated, but nice nonetheless. It’s all branded with the ‘better’ bunting, and there are windows on 2 sides of the building, with a beautiful view out to the outdoor pool. It’s quite a warm pool, nice to ease you in first thing in the morning, as in my 2 trips to date, I’ve never seen for that 8 people in the pool at any one time. There are 3 lanes, slow, medium and fast, but I don’t think any of them are particularly rigid and there isn’t pressure to go at a certain speed. The lanes are considerably wider than the more modern pools, which again adds to a nice, relaxed atmosphere.
As you swim up and down it is lovely, but you certainly get a varied temperature. Towards the deep end which is furthest from the windows, it’s pretty consistent at it’s 2 metre depth, then as you swim up towards the shallow end and the windows, if you are swimming in the fast lane you particularly notice the jets of freezing water which you cruise past and make you wince! It’s not as noticeable in the other 2 lanes though, and I have seen someone complain about it, and just be told that they need clean water to be passed through the pool to keep it clean. There is a nice blessing though, as you get nearer to the window, the sun blares in to the pool, and it’s lovely and warm in the shallow end, nice to return back there quickly! Watch it if you are swimming that way with your head out of the water as you can get a bit blinded. But I’m not going to complain about any kind of sunshine or heat!
Getting out the pool is not the best going back down the freezing stairs, and to be fair I brought my towel and wash stuff with me to the poolside so not to have to go back to my locker. But once you are back in the changing room, this is the best bit: I think these are the best showers in any swimming pool in London. Bold statement but I’m sticking by it. You turn the dial around to the temperature you want, and that’s it. The shower works, good water pressure, you control it, no silly push buttons that you have to keep pressing, no daft sensors that have no idea where you are. The doors are frosted, and even though there are only 3 private showers, i’ve never had to wait, and there are 3 others that are open to the room. I cannot express how nice it is to actually have a stress-free shower at a swimming pool!
As I mentioned, the changing rooms are great and there is loads of room, then there are hairdryers, again which actually work, in a cornered off area. The only problem is that I take longer to get ready so it might be an idea to warn anyone waiting for you that you might be getting ready at a more leisurely pace. Really great swimming pool for a bit of a quieter time, and I’m keen to go to the outside one as soon as I’m brave enough. There are several older ladies who do swim outside, they are hardcore.
It’s worth saying that the pool doesn’t really instill the motivation to really push yourself in terms of speed, so it’s depends what you want to achieve from your swim.