Pool crawl: central London edition 2016

When we were doing the Winter Pools Challenge last year we came up with the concept of a “pool crawl”. This is essentially trying to visit as many pools as possible in one day. Last year we did the South West London edition of the pool crawl (Richmond Pools in the Park, Putney, Morden Park Pools and Streatham) and the South East London (Peckham, Camberwell, Dulwich, Forest Hill, Crystal Palace) edition. We therefore thought it was time for a Central London pool crawl!

The Central London pool crawl took a lot of logistical planning making sure we hit swim fit hours rather than swim for all and that we could get between pools on the tube without wasting too much time. The tube strike nearly meant that the pool crawl was cancelled but thankfully the strike was called off. The crawl was designed to take in some of our favourite pools from the winter pool challenge.

Ironmonger Row Baths (Katie)

Ironmonger Row was a favourite for many last year. It was refurbished a few years ago so the facilities are all new and shiny and the pool is lovely. We were scheduled to meet at 11:45 to get in the pool for 11:55 but through some never before seen punctuality we were all there early so we were in and swimming by 11.45. This put us ahead of schedule for the day!

In my experience the pool is generally pretty quiet but not so today! The lane was chocker which made swimming quite difficult. We were glad that we were only there for 1km.

Alpha males encountered: too many to count
Locker: £1 refundable
Entry: £4.45


12 x 3L (15 SR between each 3L)

1) 3L steady
2) 2L steady, 1L hard
3) 1L steady, 1L hard, 1L steady
4) 1L hard, 2L steady

Repeat 3 times

Total: 1,098m

Pancras Leisure (Kate)

We were still ahead of schedule when we arrived at St Pancras pool, after a quick hop on the Northern line from Old Street to King’s Cross St Pancras. Luckily we managed to come out of the correct exit and avoided getting sucked into the never-ending tunnel aka the vortex of doom, which is normally what happens to me at King’s Cross.

Lisa had written this set for us and then cunningly avoided actually swimming it by being poorly (get well soon Lisa!) – the 200 metre “sprint” was a personal favourite.

It was a good swim and a nice pool but unfortunately we did have to put up with an Alpha male who insisted on repeatedly pushing off in front of us and then swimming incredibly slowly. I actually waited to let him go in front of me once as I had mistaken the amount of splash he was managing to create for speed. Error.

Alpha males encountered: 1
Locker: £1 refundable


10 seconds rest between each swim:

200m warm up
50m sprint
50m recovery
100m sprint
50m recovery
200m sprint
50m recovery
100m sprint
50m recovery
50m sprint
150m warm down

Total: 1050m

Marshall St Leisure Centre (Pivo)

So we were still well ahead of schedule as we started venturing to Marshall St. I always seemed to be very efficient in changing quickly, probably as had no one to chat to in the changing rooms, and was waiting in the foyer of St Pancras for the girls armed with Jaffa cakes in honour of Brian for the trip to Marshall St. Back down to Kings Cross tube and this time on the Victoria line, via the vortex of tunnels. We were starting to get a bit tired now, and were enjoying the brief sit down on the tube, but these journeys were going too quick.

Into the pool, and it was pleasantly quiet (in contrast to St Pancras and Ironmonger Row), with only one other swimmer in the fast lane who was quickly scared off by our presence. Marshall St is such a lovely pool, with marble floor and a half pipe shape in the deep end, but there is something about this pool for all of us, that calms us down and makes it an enjoyable swim. Manda even commented that maybe we should stay here rather than head to a possibly busy Oasis. It made many of the top pool lists from the London pool challenge. My set was a mini pyramid which went quite quickly. Manda and Katie wanted to tack on an extra 4 lengths to make up the distance for the week for the river challenge.


Alpha males encountered: 1
Alpha Females encountered: 3
Locker: £1 refundable


2 L warm up

The pyramid as follows always hard then easy 10 SR
1L – 1L
2L – 2L
3L – 3L
4L – 4L
3L – 3L
2L – 2L
1L -1L

Then an extra 4 at the end for good measure.

Total = 1,159m

Oasis Sports Centre (Manda)

By the time we got to Oasis there was a sense of calm as we were now under no time pressure as we knew Oasis would be open until half 5. We even managed 2 coffee stops on our 10 minute walk from Marshall St Baths to Oasis.


There was no question as to whether we were swimming in the indoor or outdoor pool, so we braved the blustery conditions and ran stylishly, as only swimmers in their bathers can do, to the pool. We were once again lucky that we were only ever sharing the lane with one other swimmer.

Alpha males encountered: 0
Locker: 20p non-refundable
Entry: £5.30


10L warm up
4*6L 15 SR
1) Odd lengths breathing to right. Even lengths breathing to left.
2) Odd lengths HARD. Even lengths EASY
3) Odd lengths breathing to right. Even lengths breathing to left.
4) Odd lengths HARD. Even lengths EASY

10L swim down (extra swim down to ensure Katie and I hit the weekly winter swim challenge target of 9641m)

Total: 1210m

And then we were done. After 4 pools we could finally wash our hair, spend more than 30 seconds in the shower and moisturise to our hearts content– hoorah! We headed to Shake Shack for some serious post swim nutrition of burgers, cheesy fries and milkshakes and talk of a possible East London edition before the summer season starts…


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