Since the nineteenth century going for a dip in the swimming pool has been a popular recreational activity for people in the UK. During that century swimming became an official Olympic sport, appearing for the first time in the 1896 games, twenty five centuries after the first ever recorded ancient Olympics. Now people of the UK cannot resist the urge to go for a “dip” and so here is a look at some of the best Britain has to offer. Just remember, no diving!
We are going to start local, show a bit of pride for our home pool. Did you know Simply Swim is based in the small Kent town of Faversham? And what does the Faversham local leisure facility offer? Six different swimming pools! A 25m swimming pool, Jacuzzi and learner area are their inside pools while on a hot summers day you can venture outdoors to their 33m pool with 1m, 3m and 5m diving boards! Just past that is a toddler’s pool and Fun Pool with rapids ride in addition to a grass area for picnics, cafeteria and outside kiosk for that ice cold lolly pop to cool you down.
[caption id="attachment_4232" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="Faversham Outdoor Pool"]
[caption id="attachment_4233" align="alignnone" width="576" caption="Faversham Outdoor Pool"]
[caption id="attachment_4230" align="alignnone" width="576" caption="Faversham Toddler Pools"]
Now that I have whet your appetite with our local pool, how about we go further afield. Those serious about swimming in Scotland get the fancy, newly renovated Royal Commonwealth Pool to celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Their main attraction is the 50m 8 lane pool. However there are two 25m pools available, one for teaching and the other for diving, both of which have movable floors allowing for flexibility in the aquatic activities. Yes, the Royal Commonwealth Pool can get busy but with such large swimming pools available it never feels too crowded. Staying in Scotland, I must give an honourable mention to Dundee’s Olympia Pool, one of the countries newest swimming pools, with a rapid river, wave pool, seated bubble beds and four innovative flumes featuring 3D holograms and LED lighting effects.
What about those looking to make a splash in London? The Aquatic Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was recently opened to the public after hosting the 2012 Olympics. You can swim where the athletes did in their two 50m pools and somersault into their 25m diving pool. If it is hot outside why not try the much loved Tooting Bec Lido, the largest fresh, open air pool in England. There are rainbow coloured changing huts, a great atmosphere and a very retro feel to the place. In Central London the Ironmonger Row Baths is a place also to check out having just recently had a £16 million restoration, giving the 1930s look a new lavish style.
[caption id="attachment_4234" align="alignnone" width="1024" caption="London Aquatics Centre"]
[caption id="attachment_4307" align="alignnone" width="900" caption="Ironmonger Row Baths"]
For those with kids, there are many fun water parks on offer, great for birthdays or a special treat for when they get their highest grade in class. WaterWorld in Stoke on Trent enjoys 400,000 visitors a year! The tropical aqua park has an array of different slides and pools plus a very cool weekly aqua disco. Or there is Blackpool’s Sandcastle Waterpark with over 18 slides, fun pools, wave machine, lazy river, and a snack bar… basically a great day for all ages. Butlins may seem like a cheap option but they are a great English tradition and their water park, Splash Waterworld is located in the Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis parks. Their great pools, flumes and family raft rides will keep you entertained for the day.
Providing the perfect mix of fun and functional is the Cardiff International Pool. Their 50m Olympic swimming pool is perfect for the serious swimmer as the lanes can be quiet and the water temperature is good, but there is an additional leisure pool for those looking to play. Recommended for its cheap entry prices and great location in the ‘International Sports Village’ right on top of Cardiff Bay, it offers a great variety so you can spend hours swimming.
[caption id="attachment_4237" align="alignnone" width="900" caption="Cardiff International Pool"]
The UK offers a range of perfect outdoor pools too. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do give a cool alternative for a hot summer’s day, often with a traditional, retro feel and some impressive views. The Jubilee outdoor pool in Penzance opened in 1935 and is surrounded by high walls but have spectacular, natural backdrops.*** Feel free to bring a picnic to enjoy on the terrace too. Bristol lido opened in 1849 and was one of the first open-air pools, built for the Victorian love of spas and baths. Having recently been restored, the lido promotes relaxation, so after a swim you can visit the spa or sit in the hot tub followed by a top class, fancy meal at their pool side restaurant; swim and eat or spa and dine packages are available.
[caption id="attachment_4246" align="alignnone" width="912" caption="Bristol Lido"]
[caption id="attachment_4251" align="alignnone" width="900" caption="Bristol Lido"]
[caption id="attachment_4245" align="alignnone" width="800" caption="Bristol Lido"]
So there you have it, pools for everyone, all located in the UK and hopefully near you. A hardened swimmer or part of a family looking for fun, there is something out there for everyone. But what do you think? Have I missed out your favourite public pool? What makes a great swimming pool to you? Temperature of the water, the size, its history, the changing rooms, price or THE WAVE MACHINE
!? Perhaps you are a fan of the Oasis beach in Bedford, or maybe The Spa in Beckenham is where you do your lengths. Why not visit all the pools mentioned and give Simply Swim your reviews.
[caption id="attachment_4240" align="alignnone" width="900" caption="The Oasis Beach Pool"]
[caption id="attachment_4238" align="alignnone" width="900" caption="The Oasis Beach Pool"]
Thanks for reading!
***After the storms of February 2014 the facilities suffered significant damage. It is uncertain as to whether they will open for the 2014 season and are looking for your support on their website.