The pool in Highbury Leisure Centre is tucked away slightly off the junction of Upper Street and Holloway Road. It is a very quaint little swimming space, with a small children’s pool and a 25m pool, which radiates heat from the moment you walk through the door. It is very child-friendly and is a lovely space for families. In the lanes, I went about my usual swim without any disturbances, and on a Sunday afternoon seems to be the place for pushy Dads to borderline drown their kids in an attempt to get them to outperform each other.
When I arrived, the friendly chap on reception told me I needed 50p for the locker (weird) and gladly changed my tenner for me. As I looked through the door I could only see the far side of the children’s pool, and worryingly asked if there is a ‘grown-up’ pool. He laughed as if he gets asked that a lot, and informed me it’s on the right. You need to walk around the edge of the pool to get to the changing rooms, which is an open space area with 3 cubicles and a long bench. It was pleasant enough, and the lockers were reasonably sized, and I was glad to see I got my 50p back.
The pool area is really lovely, it has brightly tiled walls with big photo prints around the edge. It is definitely more of a fun pool than somewhere that you would go for a serious swim. The water is so warm that it felt like a massive bath, and when I went, the whole pool was split into 3 lanes; 1 for slow swimming, 1 for medium swimming and a final 1 for kids playing about with floats and balls. Nobody was moving particularly quickly.
Something I particularly like about this pool is that the shallow end has skylights above it, so it is very bright. As you swim towards the deep end (2m deep and no diving) which is covered, the water gets darker and as though you are swimming into the unknown. The pool is well kept and the tiles make it feel relatively clean.
The lifeguards were keeping themselves busy here. As when I went to Leytonstone, they had a particular interest in non-swimmers crossing the dreaded red line. A lifeguard approached a young boy of about 8 or 9, and asked him who he was with. Mum came over and was explained the ‘swimming a whole length if you want to cross the line rule’. Both Mum and boy went back to the shallow end, he put his goggles on and set off kicking his legs. His arms stayed by his side and he didn’t raise his head for a breath for a good 10 seconds. His mother swam quite close beside him, and the lifeguard walked along the other side. With a few feet to go he had a bit of a cough and splutter, but he carried on and made it to the end. Oh my god, I could’ve cried. This kid was so proud of himself, and his Mother was too. She gave him a high-five and lifted him up. The lifeguard awarded him a luminous green paper wristband, which he waved above his head like a trophy. Amazing.
After all the emotion, and a few more lengths in the heat, I thought it time to hit the showers. These are great. There are only 3 cubicles, but you can change the temperature and they are push button. Like the pool, these are very compact but generally contribute to a relaxing experience.
The changing cubicles aren’t very roomy either, but there is a lot of space on the benches. There are hairdryers which are 20p a pop. This was a lovely placeto go for a swim; relaxing warm, friendly and encouraging. Happy weekend times.