Winter Pool challenge: THE REVIEW

KATIE
Your favourite pool overall
My favourite pool from the Winter Pool Challenge is Marshall Street Baths. It is hidden just behind Regents Street so you can combine a swim and a shop. It also has lovely Art Deco interior and exterior which makes you feel like you are making a trip to an old English baths.

Your favourite new find
This is a very difficult one of answer as there were so many new pools that I swam in which I loved. St. Pancras pool was lovely. It is brand new, 2 minutes walk from the tube and has a lovely purple wall to entertain you while you swim. Charlton Lido was also lovely find – a heated outdoor 50m pool and is a close contender. I think my pick for favourite new find, however, is Wimbledon Pool. Not because it is an amazing pool but because it is less than 2 miles from where I grew up and I never even knew it existed!

An old treasure re-discovered
I wouldn’t say that I only re-discovered it during the Winter Pool Challenge but Crystal Palace does hold a special place in my heart. I did most of my training and competing there as a kid so it brings back memories going there. It is 50m, close to our houses and does the job as a location for some long distance winter training.

The pool you won’t be going back to
It had to be Morden Pools in the Park. Any pool where you resign yourself to picking up an ear infection can’t be good!


MANDA
Your favourite pool overall
Ironmonger row baths. I almost don’t want to declare this for fear of the masses descending but I love this pool. It is ~30m in length, light, bright and airy and the only place I have ever experienced a life guard actively managing the lane. Yes, it is subject to overcrowding and people who can’t swim against the lane rope to allow for overtaking and I have come out with a couple of bruises from people who seem to take up more space swimming front crawl than the world’s tallest man would take up swimming breaststroke, but I still love it. I regularly head down on a Friday with Pivo for “paddles and pastries” and this is honestly the best way to start the weekend (in winter!)

Your favourite new find
This is hard as I wanted to choose somewhere that I am actually going to have a chance to go back to again, rather than a pool I thought was ace but unlikely to be a regular fixture next winter. So I have chosen Wimbledon. It is conveniently close to where I live and offers Women only hours on a Thursday night so I can get in a swim there before heading to my regular RG Active session at Hampton.

An old treasure re-discovered
I have had a bit of hate thing for Crystal Palace over the last few years over the winter. Most of the winter I have spent dreaming of being outside and dreading our weekend adventures to Crystal Palace. Most of the time when I got there it was fine but then sometimes there would be other swimmers who would just ruin the experience in various ways. This winter I have always looked forward to swimming at Crystal Palace. Like that pair of tatty but comfy old slippers, the familiarity of Crystal Palace was welcomed. After schlepping to various pools across London, I realised the 20 minute drive was not that bad and the fellow swimmers, well they are relatively good. So I am sorry Crystal Palace for being so mean to you and I am sorry it has taken swimming in 53 other pools to realise how lucky I am to have you nearby. Till October my good friend.

The pool you won’t be going back to
New Malden. Hung-over. Scratched. Kicked. Crowded. That is all.


KATE
Your favourite pool overall
London Fields – An oldy but a goody. A 50 metre heated lido located a stone’s throw from the many cake shops and trendy eateries of Broadway market. What’s not to like? And it has a cute little café. I am upset that I live so far away from this pool as I always love swimming there. I even enjoyed it on the day we turned up and the heating had broken.

Your favourite new find
Marshall St Baths – I can’t believe that I’d never found this pool before. The original 1930s art deco pool is beautiful and all that marble makes you feel like you’re swimming in a Roman baths… Without the wine and copulation perhaps. And it’s very conveniently situated in Soho near Oxford Circus. The only downside of our trip there was the lane rage I experienced when a man in my lane grabbed my ankles, before gesticulating wildly at me underwater. But that wasn’t the pool’s fault.

An old treasure re-discovered
Kentish Town – I used to swim here all the time when I lived in the area and I miss it. Again, like Marshall St, it’s just a very attractive pool with lovely high ceilings and a real sense of space. It’s 33 metres as well (rather than the normal 25), which always helps.

The pool you won’t be going back to
Tooting has just pipped the ghastly Latchmere to the post for my WORST POOL EVER. First, they told me to go to the wrong changing rooms so I ended up in the gym ones rather than the swimming ones. I even ended up asking a girl in there if it was the swimming changing room and she assured me it was. This resulted in me wandering around the corridors and reception of the leisure centre in a skimpy swimsuit trying to find the blasted pool. A very nice young man came to my aid (luckily!) and went to the reception desk to find out where the pool was… When I’d found it, I realised there were no lockers left (what sort of swimming pool doesn’t have enough lockers to go round?!) so I had to lug all my stuff onto poolside. The swim itself was rubbish as there were about a million aggressive people crammed into my lane so I only managed a derisory 1k before I became too stressed and had to get out. And then when I finally found the real swimming changing room, it was a small dirty room with no windows. Not impressed Tooting.


BRIAN
Your favourite pool overall
London Olympic Pool has been my favourite pool since I first came here with Lisa shortly after it opened to the public. It is bright, spacious and clean. 50m and a constant 3m depth throughout — a joy to swim in. The lanes are usually pretty quiet, and because all the ‘casual’ swimmers swim in the training pool, the competition pool tends to be a very enjoyable place to swim.

Your favourite new find
York Hall is a great pool in East London, although somewhat long in the tooth. Longer than average (33m), and very quiet both times I have been there. Nice and spacious, with out of action diving boards in the deep end to look at while you are swimming. This is my favourite new find as it is so close to my house. As a bonus, it has a really nice ceiling in the lobby.

An old treasure re-discovered
Ironmonger Row Baths was my regular after work pool when I first moved to London (and before the recent renovation). It is much nicer now after its much needed facelift. I had forgotten how long it was (31m), so a good option for a central London pool.

The pool you won’t be going back to
I found St Pancras very claustrophobic (no windows) and warm pool. It didn’t help that I went at 7pm on a weekday evening, so it was absolutely rammed with people, and getting any swimming done was pretty difficult!


PAUL
Your favourite pool overall
London Fields Lido is my local pool, outdoors, 50m and heated. I like the area and being next to a park and good cafes for a coffee after. I miss my Saturday morning swim routine that I have not been able to do of late.

Your favourite new find
Marshall St took this one. I loved the fact it was right in Soho, but pool was like a roman bath with sloped/curved deep end. We could have been swimming in roman times!

An old treasure re-discovered
Not re-discovered, but I really did like Camberwell and Chelsea. Both are nice old buildings, done up, but still keeping old style arches and art deco designs of the past. I do like the older type pools that have kept their charms.

The pool you won’t be going back to
I will never ever ever be going back to Pancras leisure centre. A soulless new build pool, with tiny changing rooms, small lanes in the pool and it was rammed with muppet swimmers who should have been nowhere near the fast lane. Second place, jubilee, too shallow in shallow end, and smelt of too many chemicals, probably because of the sauna.


LISA
Your favourite pool overall
It is great to have, Charlton Lido, a 50m heated pool with good opening times, nice and clean and lane swimming. Much quieter than London Fields which made it much more pleasant.

Your favourite new find
I love the history of this little gem. Marshall St is hidden behind the bustle of they busy shopping areas of central London. A little wooden ticket box, marble based pool and quirky statue at the end – what isn’t there to love about it.

An old treasure re-discovered
Aquatics centre – okay not quite ‘old’ but I had forgotten how much I love the pool and the memories of the Olympics

The pool you won’t be going back to
Aspire Centre, Southfields is far too hot,more like a hot tub! changing rooms not particularly clean

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