The last time I went swimming in Greenwich must have been 5 years ago, and I really liked the old Arches leisure centre, the architecture was great and I liked the poolside changing rooms as it gave it a feeling of being a lido with a lid on. However, this is now all boarded up, and a new pool has opened just this year.

The Greenwich Centre is a newly developed area and the leisure centre and integral library(!) are in the middle of it. It’s a load of modern grey concrete near Maze Hill station. I can see that it does bring modern facilities to the area since the closing of East Greenwich library, but it lacks the charm and character of the surrounding area which is quite disappointing.

The polite lady on the desk directed me towards the changing rooms and told me I’d need 20p for the lockers. I headed down the stairs and passed the hair drying area before reaching the changing rooms. These are really nice and new and clean, with signs and braille on the doors so you know exactly what is going on. Most of the cubicles have been designed for families, and that’s blatantly who the pool is for.

The 20m pool looks impressive for kids, and the 25m pool looks very clean and fresh. Once you get in you can feel the chlorine and chemicals which are keeping it that way. When  arrived the pool was divided into 5 lanes and 3 of these had lessons in. The people in the pool initially weren’t really swimming, just leisurely floating up and down, so if you are in it for training, it might be worth a check when there are more lanes available. I headed off slowly and circumnavigated around the meanderers. Once it hit 8pm all of the lessons had finished and people filtered into other lanes. As I was pootling along, I thought I’d give the 5k distance a shot.

About half way through the swim I started to notice the chemicals here more than I have anywhere for a while. My fingers were really wrinkly and my face felt taut. I think the most challenging thing about swimming that far in a 25m pool is keeping count of the number of lengths. Other than an aching shoulder, the swim was surprisingly not that much of a struggle. I certainly wasn’t going for speed, but just glad I managed to finish it. The pool was very warm and not very crowded so the Brockwell Park event will be very different, but it’s a start, and I didn’t drown.

I can’t really remember anything fantastic about this pool. That may be due to exhaustion with all of my energy being used up by the swim, or just that it is pretty forgettable. It’s new, that’s good as it means it hasn’t had the time to get grubby yet. It has been practically designed and has extended shower cubicles where you can hang your stuff on the back of the door. The showers are reasonable, but you have to push the button every 5 seconds.

It does the job and is a good facility, but with Charlton Lido down the road, there’s a clear winner for me.


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