In terms of quantity, there are no shortage of places to take a dip in London. But with all that choice, it can be difficult to choose where to go for your daily swim fix or family leisure outing.
Here are seven of the capital’s best offerings.
Oasis Sports Centre
Well-placed in the heart of the West End, Covent Garden’s Oasis Sports Centre (run by the social enterprise Better/GLL) offers a 27.5m outdoor heated pool, open from 7am to 9pm in the summer, and adjacent indoor pool, sauna and gym. The Oasis has recently upgraded the terrace steps and decking for a more modern experience. As with many of the pools listed here, the Oasis is very popular in the summer, especially during holidays and weekends.
The sun terrace is divided into adults-only and families sections, and the cafe sells refreshing ice-creams and smoothies. At the time of writing, the outdoor pool was open from 7am until at least 8pm in the week, and from 9am to 5.30 pm on weekends. Booking is managed online and Camden residents of 55 and over can get a free swim between 9am and 12pm on weekdays.
Parliament Hill Lido
This Grade II 60x28m ourdoor swimming pool was built in the 1930s and refreshed in 2005. The water shimmers in the summer sunshine due to its stainless steel liner – the only one of its kind for a UK outdoor pool. The lido is unheated, but lifeguards will often permit you to wear a wetsuit, which is why the pool is often used by triathletes. The pool attracts positive comments for the clean water although it can get overcrowded – a common hazard in such a busy city.
The Lido doesn’t have a dedicated website, but you can find out more from the Hampstead Heath Events Calendar or by calling 020 7485 3873. At the time of writing, the pool operated three sessions, an early swim (7-9am) for £2; day swim (10am-6pm) for £5.50 and an evening swim (6.45-8pm) for £2.50. Concessions, family tickets and a variety of season tickets are available.
Affectionally known as Brixton Beach, this 50m pool is surrounded by Grade II listed Art Deco buildings. There is also an award-winning cafe, indoor hydrotherapy pool, dance and Pilates sessions, exercise studios and a host of varied activities put on by the Brockwell Lido Users Group. Swimmers will notice lockers by the pool and there are both inside and outside showers. At the time of writing, the pool operated two sessions, 6.30am-2pm for £3.10 and 4-8pm for £5.90, with Over 60s enjoying free swimming up to 10am on a weekday. Concessions, family tickets and a variety of season tickets are available.
Pools on the Park, Richmond
Now run by SpringHealth, Pools on the Park are ideally situated for those expats living and working in the Surrey area. There are indoor and (in summer) outdoor 33m pools and staff have attracted praise for being welcoming. At the time of writing, both pools opened at 6.30am in the morning but closing times varied by day as did weekend opening times. Prices were £5 with a discount for leisure card holders and there were concessions available.
In addition to the swimming, adults can enjoy the tennis courts, while children can have fun in the playground.
London Fields Lido
Situated in Westside, East London, London Fields Lido faced demolition before residents saved it from the wrecking ball. The pool is 50m long and wide enough to cater for multiple lanes. It is also heated and open all year round, proving very popular as a result. To cope with the demand, the pool has introduced lunchtime closures between sessions. Picnics are forbidden, but there is a cafe and decking area for swimmers to enjoy.
At the time of writing, the pool opened from 6.30am (8am on weekends) with general swimming available from 9.30am at a price of £4.75. Concessions and membership discounts are available.
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool
Formerly Uxbridge Lido, Hillingdon’s 50m outdoor pool is now part of Fusion’s Hillingdon Sport and Leisure Complex (a social enterprise) which also includes a 50m indoor competition pool, leisure pool, sauna, steam room and 100 station gym.
At the time of writing, the pool operated three general swim sessions, 7-9am, 12-2pm and 4-6pm with swimming available all day (10am to 6pm) on the weekends. Prices were £6.00 for non-residents, with concessions and resident discounts available.
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds
People often go to Hampstead Heath to escape the city clamour, and the swimming ponds are a jewel in the Heath’s crown. Formerly dammed claypits, the water can, understandably, be a little murky at times, but offers an exhilarating swimming experience.
There are three ponds, for men, ladies and mixed, and swimming space is often shared with ducks. The mixed pool has lifeguard protection and accompanied children (from 8-15) are permitted
The Ponds do not have a dedicated website, but you can find out more from the Hampstead Heath Events Calendar or by calling 020 7485 3873. At the time of writing, the mens and ladies ponds were open all year round from 7am-8.30pm (for just £2), while the mixed ponds were open only to members of the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club (at a cost of £15) in the winter season. In the summer, the mixed pond opens from 7am to 6.30pm depending on the light.
One more to try…
Hampton Pool attracts mixed reviews, with some people raving about the year round swimming in heated water, poolside gym and fitness studio, and others questioning the pricing and staff. Hampton pool is a 36m, south-facing pool with a grassy area around it. Opened in 1922, it is another London pool which was saved by the residents, in the 1980s and the Poolside Swim & BBQ Club put on lots of events throughout the year.
At the time of writing, the pool was open from 6am to 5pm or 9pm depending on the day (9am-5pm on weekends). Prices ranged from £4.90 to £6.80 with concessions available.