Open-water Training 2017


Coached sessions at London (ish) venues




RG Active:

Serpentine Swimming Club:

General Admission:

Tooting Bec Lido

Fit and Abel:


Training sessions are for SLSC members only. You can get a Club only membership costs for just £25 (£20 for 19-25 year olds) but with the club only membership you have to pay for your entry to the lido.  More details here:

General Admission:

Parliament Hill Lido

Tri For Fitness:

General Admission:

London Royal Docks

RG Active:

General Admission:

Hampstead Ponds

RG Active:

General Admission:

West Reservoir

RG Active:

TriScape: TBC

London Fields Tri Club:

Capital Tri:

Swim Open:

General Admission:  Note: in order to go swim there outside of organised sessions you need to have done an induction.  As the season progresses the availability decreases, so if you are thinking of using this facility, we would suggest booking your induction ASAP.

Brockwell Lido

Streamline Swims:

Windrush Tri Club:

General Admission:

Shepperton Lake

Swim Lab:

General Admission:


Swim For Tri:

Ham Lake

RG Active:

Heron Lake

General Admission:

Bray Lake

General Admission:


General Admission:

Liquid Leisure at Datchet

General Admission:


General Admission:


General Admission:


Winter Pool challenge: THE REVIEW

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

Two Saturdays in March & Two Pool Crawls

One of our friends, Lisa, did 2 pool crawls in 2 weeks… Exhausting! Here is how she did..

P.s Check out Lisa’s blog here where she is blogging about her solo channel swim coming up September 2015


Unfortunately I haven’t been able to join the rest of the group on the last few ‘Pool Crawl’s’ so decided to organise two of my own, firstly because I needed to try and catch up a little on the challenge (due to injury I wasn’t able to swim for 4 months) and also I am swimming the channel in September and wanted to start addIng a bit of distance to my training but wanted a fun way to start introducing it.


On Saturday 14th Brian and another friend Kerry joined me the pool crawl included:

  1. Kings Hall
  2. London Fields
  3. York Hall
  4. Mile End

Kings Hall

The first pool of the day is a beautiful building from the outside and houses a small pool for kids and then a larger pool for those that wish to swim further. There was a small car park out the back which is easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there. It was pretty quiet in the larger pool when we got there and we only had to share the lane with one other person, who although she was slower than us was generally pretty good at stopping and letting us by – something that you don’t find much in pools.

We swam – 50m, 100m, 200m, 300m, 200m, 100m, 50m (Building speed on each length of each part of that set)

London Fields

This pool used to be an old favourite of mine and one I have swam with Brian over many winter weekends. I love being able to swim outside but in the warmth of a heated pool and I really enjoy their outdoor showers. It is a shame though that it seems to get more and more crowded every time I go and so much so that there was no room in the changing rooms to get changed – we braved it in the outdoor changing cubicles. They have however now added floodlights which means they can open later so worth a visit in the evenings.

We swam – 10x100m (Odd numbers medium/drill, Even numbers hard)


York Hall

Like many of London’s pools this is a very grand building however, it is very well known for it’s boxing and is one of Britain’s best known boxing venues. The pool again had a smaller pool for the little ones and a larger pool for us older types. Again it was pretty quiet which meant we could get our 1km done swiftly.

We swam – 5 x 200m (Odd numbers medium, Even numbers hard)


Before finishing the last km of the day we stopped at the local Nando’s to refuel on Chicken and Manda who was in the area dropped by to join us before we headed off to finish the last km at Mile End.

Mile End

The last pool of the day, and although we had only swam 3km it is pretty tiring getting changed in between pools and the travelling. There were a few lanes in and even though one was being taken up for lessons there was a fast and slow lane out for us to jump in. There was a young girl – possibly in her younger teens who was slowly making her way up and down the lane with very wide legged breaststroke and head up crawl. I guess everyone has a different view on fast and great to see a youngster on her own putting in a few lengths – being kicked a few times in the side was reminding the team of what lays ahead of them for the summer of open water swimming ahead.

The last km was swam – 100m, 400m, 400m, 100m (100’s hard, 400’s alternate 50’s medium/hard/drill/kick).


On Saturday 21st Brian wasn’t able to join us as he was camping out at London Fields to train for his 24 hour swim coming up in May – 1 mile to swim on the hour every 24 hours and Manda & Paul were busy doing something called running down on the coast. So Kerry and I headed off on the great London transport network to try a Pool Crawl of most central London locations using only walking and the tube network. The 5 pools we had planned for the day were:

  1. Cally Pool
  2. Pancras Square
  3. Marshall Street
  4. Porchester x 2 (they have a 30m and a 25m pool)

Cally Pool

This pool is just a 10/15 minute walk from Kings Cross and as we arrived outside of it we were reminded of a young lad that was stabbed whilst cycling past the leisure centre just a few weeks ago – the outside of the centre had about 20metres of flowers and photo of the young lad and reminded me of the importance to get young people into sport and be active at young age and keep them off the streets and out of trouble. As we entered the pool there was only one double lane available for public swimming as a swimming club was taking up the rest of the pool. It was an interesting 1km as we avoided two children having lessons, 5 teenagers jumping into the pool to save a dummy from the bottom of the pool as part of their life guarding course and two people transporting themselves up and down each length – I can’t describe what they were doing as swimming.

We swam – 50m, 100m, 200m, 300m, 200m, 100m, 50m

Pancras Square

Just a 15 minute walk from Cally pool and right at the back of Kings Cross & St Pancras train station. It sits under a library and the council offices and was very quiet when we arrived with only two people in the whole pool. We took the lane closest to the furthest wall as they had a pretty glittery purple wall that we could look at and above this lane the ceiling was much higher with lots of light coming in from outside. A really pleasant quiet swim – not something that happens much.

We swam – 10x100m (Odd numbers hard & Even numbers 50/pull 50 kick)

Marshall Street

A quick pop on the tube to Oxford Street and just behind Carnaby Street is a hidden gem. The pool, like many that we have visited recently has these quirky little wooden booths that the reception is housed in. The changing rooms were clean and modern but once in the pool the uniqueness of the pool is that the floor and side of the pool are made of marble, it also has statues at the end of the shallow end. It was again quiet when we swam and we shared the lane with just one other person to begin with – although as we got out a few others had joined.

We swam – 5 x 200m (Odd numbers medium, Even numbers hard)

Porchester Centre

This pool is again another one of London’s old pools which has retained many of its period features which I love. We arrived at a time that we would be able to swim in both the 25m and 30m pool. Both pools were quiet and again we only had to share the 30m pool lane with one other person and the 25m pool didn’t have lane ropes in so we just swam side by side up and down the pool. This pool was nice and light but very cloudy from the children’s swimming lessons in the morning.

We swam – 3 x 360m in the 30m pool and in the 25m pool we swam 2x400m and 100m drill and 100m backstroke.


To finish the day off before heading to watch the rugby we popped into the The Porchester for a lovely pub lunch.


My 25 years of the Swimathon

Regular swimmers in the UK will not have failed to miss all the advertising at their local pool for the 2015 Swimathon. This has made me think back on the times I have taken part in the Swimathon over the last nearly 25 years.

The Swimathon is a swimming challenge which absolutely everyone who loves swimming can take part in. Distances range from 1.5km to 5km and you can complete as a team or an individual. The Swimathon raises money for some great charities. It doesn’t matter how much you can raise – all donations are welcome.

I first took part in the Swimathon when I was 10 years old at Balham Leisure Centre. I don’t remember this but my mum said I had a really bad cold and was really not well enough to swim 5km. However, I was determined I was going to do it and when I have set my mind to something there is really not a lot of stopping me. I managed to make it through and completed in around 2h and 45mins.

I did the Swimathon each year after that at Balham until I was 16. Highlights included the year that Neil Pearson of drop the 1990s cult show Drop the Dead Donkey fame started us off. My fastest time for the event was 1h and 12m in 1996.

Katie's sister Clare and Neil Pearson at the swimathon in c.1995
Katie’s sister Clare and Neil Pearson at the swimathon in c.1995

After I went to University I didn’t do the Swimathon for a number of years until Kate persuaded me to join her at London Fields Lido for the event in 2011. London Fields is a great pool for the Swimathon as it is a heated outdoor 50m pool. The day was lovely and sunny and my mum, uber Team Mermaids supporter cycled over from SW London to watch. The event was somewhat chaotic in its organisation and it was with a sinking heart that I saw the competitor in front of me get in and start swimming breaststroke (you are meant to be sorted into lanes of people of similar speed). One of the advantages of a 50m pool over a 25m pool though is that you only have to try and pass slower swimmers half as often!

Kate and Katie at the start of the 2013 swimathon at London Fields Lido
Kate and Katie at the start of the 2011 Swimathon at London Fields Lido

I finished in 01:19:30 (slightly ashamed that my 16 year old self was so much faster) and Kate finished in 01:31:00.

Katie at the end of the 2013 swimathon at London Fields Lido
Katie at the end of the 2011 swimathon at London Fields Lido

I didn’t manage to swim in 2012 as I was at a friend’s hen do the weekend of the Swimathon but Kate and Manda both made it back to London Fields for the event. Manda finished in 01:21:00 and Kate finished in 01:30:00 (1 min faster well done Kate!)

Manda and I decided we wanted to try and swim at a good and quiet time in 2013. We therefore decided to swim at Putney Leisure Centre on a Friday evening. Our rationale was only swimming losers like us would want to give up their Friday night to do the Swimathon. In this respect we were right and there were people of similar speeds in our lane making it much easier to just keep going. In all other respects though the night was a disaster! About 2.5km in Manda hit her hand on a metal hook sticking out of the pool badly bruising it and she had to get out. After having cycled about 20 miles that day I kept on getting really awful cramp in my calves and kept on having to stop to stretch. The life guard kept on asking me if I wanted to get out. No way! Mermaids never quit! I finally trailed in in 01:23:44. My 16 year old self is becoming increasingly ashamed of me!

After our 2013 experience we decided to give 2014 a miss. Plus the weekend of the Swimathon was also the weekend schedule for my hen weekend! My amazing friend Alison though knows me too well and after a 3am night of drinking she had entered us into the Swimathon on Sunday morning at the London Olympic Pool no less! Knowing we wouldn’t be up to much Alison had only entered us into the 1.5k team event rather than the full 5k individual event. Swimming in the Olympic Pool was such a fantastic experience thinking you were swimming in the same pool as all the greats from London 2012. To cap the day off we got to get our picture taken with British Olympic legend Duncan Goodhew who won Gold in the 100m Breaststroke at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games!

London 2012 Olympic Pool for the 2014 Swimathon
London 2012 Olympic Pool for the 2014 Swimathon
Us with Duncan!
Us with Duncan!

So that brings us up to date! Looking forward to 2015….I am due to have my first baby at the end of January 2015 so I am hoping to be back in sufficient shape to swim this year on the weekend of 17 – 19 April although I’m sure not in a time my 16 year old self would be impressed with!

For those of you who are keen details of the 2015 Swimathon are below.


Winter Pool challenge 2014/2015

I (Manda) mentioned in a blog that this winter we are going to be trying to visit as many new/different pools as possible this winter. It would be lovely to only go to new pools, however we have already done ALOT of the local pools so that is not really possible.  So until April 30th variety is the name of the game.

The criteria for the pool selection:


Unfortunately due to the distance we need to train and the ever decreasing temperature, it will soon be time for us to hang up our Wetsuits for the season, so this list only contains heated pools.  I am sure we will do something similar next summer with non-heated swim locations if we can drag ourselves away from our 2 favorite swim locations of Shepperton and Tooting Bec Lido for long enough 😉

Pool Length

I cannot/won’t swim in a sub 25m pool where possible, so we have kept it to >25m unless we felt that the pool was worth compromising.

Access for all

We all have to be able to go swimming so it has to be a swimming pool with public sessions/access.


In case you hadn’t noticed we live in London so the list is focused around that, however, if we are going to be else where we will definitely be trying out some out-of-London options.  Beau Sejour leisure centre Guernsey..I am looking at you! So here is the list of pools we put together (with help from Brian)










Our friends Kate, Lisa, Brian and Pivo, who have all been previously mentioned on blog or have guest blogged for us are also doing the challenge.  If you fancy trying to tick off as many of the above as well feel free or if you don’t live in London create your own list.  Let us know how you get on.

Here is how we are getting on:

Finally cake is super important to us so if you know somewhere amazing for cake and tea close to a pool that is on list then let us know.

Tweet us at @manda_sw and @katiekenny1804 or leave a comment below.

Happy Winter swimming.

Manda and Katie