Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling!

We love a Pool Crawl so we have done a few and therefore, have self appointed ourselves as Pool crawl Presidents!

So here is our Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling.  Thanks to our Pool crawling partners in crime Brian and Pivo for helping us with the below.

    1. Have a small purse/freezer bag with 20ps and a couple of £1 coins ready for lockers.
    2. Try have dry bathers for each pool and if possible make them your “bigger” bathers as easier to get on over damp skin.
    3. Wherever there is a costume spinner, make sure you spin all wet swimming costumes.  Also, maybe not approved use of spinner but a secret source says you can put your quick dry towels in the spinner as well!
    4. Have a plastic bag ready to keep wet stuff separate.
    5. Have spare goggles/caps, the tireder you get the more likely you are to start leaving things at pools.
    6. Only invite people who cope well when things don’t go to plan and are still happy(ish) when tired.
    7. Save a dry towel for the last pool.
    8. If you have long hair and there is a hair dryer at a pool, blitz the ends for 1 minute before leaving.  Saves you hair dripping all over you on way to next pool.  If you have short hair then go for a pre pool crawl trim.
    9. Check pool opening times against schedule day before event to reconfirm all ok. (Lesson Learnt!)
    10. Bring battery pack for on the go mobile phone charging.

Extra tip if you are pool crawling through London:

8/10 of the pools we went to were managed by Better (GLL) so we got day passes that cost £10.00.  This allowed us to do all our Better dips for £10.


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…


Open water Swimming dictionary

This is a list of words/phrases that we use regularly when discussing swimming.  As you will see from the below it is probably not that useful!

Thanks to the usual Team Mermaids support crew for suggestions:  Brian, pivo, Hilary, Lisa, Suz and Kate.



Acclimatisation: The act of screaming/whinging upon entering freezing (see below explanation) water.  Also, the act of preparing your body and mind ready for the cold water.  This can involve such activities as cold showers, sleeping with just a sheet in winter and (the money saving) no heating for the winter.

Alpha males: males swimmers who can’t accept that a girl might be faster than them and therefore insist on pushing off the wall right in front of you.   This species is found a lot at Crystal Palace.

Bathers: Term for swimming costume when in the Channel Islands.

Bathophobia: Fear of a bath due to being confined to such a small swimming space that is generally too hot… Nah only kidding.  The fear of the deep.   You know that moment we all have where you can’t see the bottom.  It happens to us all where suddenly you are overcome with thoughts regarding what is down “there”.   It comes from the ancient Greek for “deep” – bathos.

Blowing-up: being unable to carry on swimming at a certain speed having set off too fast.  Ask Pivo about this.

Bonus rest: additional rest taken between sets when there is some particularly interesting gossip to discuss.

Buoy (pronounced: BOY in uk and BOO-EE in US):  Large plastic thing that NEVER appears and when it finally does often attacks you for swimming too close to it.

Cake:  The food of gods that helps you fuel and recover from long swims.

Channel rules: the rules governing an English Channel swim.  Hat, goggles & costume.  No touching the boat.  They (the CSPF and CSA) love a man in speedos.

Crocs: ghastly footwear that many a channel swimmer insists they NEED to wear. NO.YOU.DON’T.

Dip’n’Dine: a swim followed by food with friends.

Double Hatting: When the water is Freezing (see below) and you need to wear two hats to keep warm.

Drafting: You can’t escape it, even if you don’t want to do it, someone will do it to you.  Kick them in the face.. go on!*

Dry Robe: popular brand of post-swimming warmth.

DYST: ‘did you swim today’ Facebook group where the majority of the time people post interesting summaries/photos about what swimming they have done of note that day.

Feeding: another name for chucking a few jelly babies in the general direction of a swimmer.

Freezing: any water below 18C.

Jellyfish Soup – Miles and miles of jellyfish.   Large or small… stingers or non-stingers.  Jellyfish Soup causes you to curse and swear lots and seek immediate exit route from water.

(The) Jellyfish Crawl – the latest dance craze sweeping the world and also the slowed down swimming style that is adopted when swimming through Jellyfish Soup (see above).

Killer Whales: The “affectionate” term used by a core group of skin swimmers to refer to wetsuited swimmers.

Like a bath: any water above 18C.

Lube: normally in the form of Vaseline, bodyglide or channel grease.  Helps prevent chaffing and the resultant questions from work colleagues around how aggressive a kisser your husband is.

Marathon swim: Anything over and including 10km.

Oceans 7:  Not to be confused with Oceans 11, 12 and 13.  A wish list of the craziest long-distance sea swims that exist around the Globe.  For people who think swimming the English Channel is too easy.

Pool crawl: visiting a number of pools on the same day for swims.  This term originates from the phrase “pub crawl” only it is way cooler.

Pyramid of Pain: 1 minute hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 6 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 1 minute hard swim.  I don’t think I need to explain why it is called the pyramid of pain.  Renamed the “Christmas Tree of Pain” around Christmas.

Relay: A race where a team of people swim a certain distance each.  This used to mean a serious competition between teams but now is more likely to mean that we will be competing using flip flops as hand paddles.

Running: Like swimming but on land and not as fun and much harder.

Single Arm Drill: Where you have to swim free style with one arm with the other arm down by your side.  A drill so hard it makes grown men want to cry.

Swimmers Beach: the unofficial name of the beach in Dover harbour where most channel swimmers train during the summer.

T10: a 10 minute time trial where you have to swim as far as you can in 10 minutes.  Normally leaves everyone in pieces and shouting at Dan from SwimForTri.  Poor Dan.. (Note: Katie wrote that.. sod Dan (Manda)).


*please don’t really kick someone in the face!



Winter Challenge update – half way! 31/12

The 31st December not only marked the end of 2015 but also the end of the first three months of the Team Mermaids 2015/16 winter challenge. We have just another four months left to complete the challenge.

Our challenge this year is to swim the distance of the ten longest rivers in the UK. The total distance is 2,347km. So after the three month point how is it going? Well in short not very well! To be on course to complete the challenge we would need to have completed 1,046km by 31 December 2015 and we have currently swum 539km between us. A massive 507k behind! Brian is currently leading the way with 107k swum, which makes him just 55k short of having swum the River Nene on his own. Katie is in second place having swum 103k.

So far we have swum the length of the River Nene and River Spey and are half way along the River Clyde.


So what are our plans to speed progress along?!

  • Eat more cake so we feel guilted into swimming more (although this has not been that successful in the past)
  • Tell Brian that Manda and I are beating him – he will then increase his swimming
  • The Team Mermaids pool crawl is making a return on 7th February – so we can make sure the others do more swimming!
  • We are attending the SwimForTri training weekend in April – that should be a few ks in the bag!
  • Swimathon – Kate, Manda and I are all booked in to do the Swimathon on 18th March.

Oh dear! I am thinking this might become with Winter Challenge 2016/17 as well!

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.


1(ish) month to go: winter pool challenge

The winter pool challenge is coming to an end in a month’s time. I’m (Manda) pleased we did it but I am not going to be sorry to see the back of it to be honest. Schlepping around pools has been mentally and physically exhausting and while we’ve discovered some amazing pools (Marshall St Baths), which we probably would never have gone to if we hadn’t started this challenge, we’ve also had the displeasure of swimming in some less than amazing pools.

The end of the winter pool challenge will also signify the return to open water. Woo h2ooooooooooo!

We are going to review the pools but in the meantime here are some of things I have learnt from this challenge:

Pool crawling is hard work.

We have discovered that pool binging, aka pool crawling, is harder than first imagined. Yes swimming multiple kms is hard work and tiring but the real challenges come out of the water. It takes a lot of preparation to juggle visits to coincide with ‘lane swimming’ sessions, sort out parking (where we travelled by car) and the hardest task of them all is ensuring you maintain nutrition, whilst adhering to Mama Foley’s and Mum Tannahill’s strict rule of no swimming for 1 hour after eating*.

I hate chlorine.

My skin hates me. It sees a pool and it starts flaking. If I have been for a swim pre work, had a shower, I will sit at work and all I can smell is chlorine. You might think it is a necessary evil but there are alternatives and if everyone wore a cap and showered before a swim we might need less.

I need light!

I have realised that what I like in a home and office, I like in a pool. I want light. As much as I possibly can. I want my swim to be saturated in day light, I want to see the colours of the water and most importantly I want to feel like a mermaid.

Every pool I visit in the darkness I decide I hate. A recent whatsapp to the group after visiting a pool in darkness was “well that was a skankfest”. Afterwards I felt I had judged the pool too quickly and I’m thinking of returning in day light as I am sure it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Although the ear buds mangled into the hair balls on the changing room floor will probably still be as skanky in day light!

Carry lots of 20ps

“What do the lockers take?” is the most overused phrase of the challenge. I spent 20 minutes begging people to change my £1 to 1 x 20p at Crystal Palace one weekend so as to avoid having to redress and go back to reception for change. Lesson learnt.

I like distance

I don’t want to stop and start. Turn and tumble. Flip and flop. I want to swim. Distance also means more time to overtake those people who probably shouldn’t be in the fast lane.

I don’t like pools with a tinge of yellow on the bottom

I mean who would?!?! Latchmere and Arches in Greenwich… Why?!?

A change is as good as a rest

Pool swimming can be monotonous, staring at the same tiles for length after length, especially if you are doing 2+ hour sets. We mix this up by doing various sets, but training in different pools has also brought a fresh lease of life to winter training. We tend to stick to doing our longer sets in 50m pools, specifically Crystal Palace, but next winter I will be more inclined to do some of these at London Fields or the Aquatic centre. Also it will encourage me to add more variety to my mid-week pool sessions when only a shorter session is needed.

Ultimately all the above does is summarise why I will always be an open water swimmer over a pool swimmer but to all those pool swimmers out there, thanks for letting us share your pools for this time and see you next winter… maybe.


*bananas don’t count

Pool Crawl: South East London edition (March 2015)

The idea was to do another pool crawl in February but then Katie had her baby 2 weeks later.. so she wasn’t around to participate, Pivo was doing his mile a day February challenge and I (Manda) had an ear infection/was away.  We got to March and decided it was time to get one in as the winter pool challenge finish (April 30th) is getting closer and there are still a lot of pools unconquered. South East London we are coming for you.

The pools chosen were:

  1. Peckham.  We wanted to get this one ticked off as it is shutting for refurbishment on 9th March.
  2. Camberwell
  3. Dulwich
  4. Forest Hill
  5. Crystal Palace

We had West Norwood penciled in as a back up as I thought we might not get to Forest Hill in time.

At 7:15 this morning we met at Peckham Pool and the challenge started.

Peckham pool was relatively quiet and the lanes were wide, so it meant we had a nice quiet swim, well apart from the lifeguard laughing when Brian walked on pool side in his jazzy funky trunks..

We swam:

400m swim

300m pull

200m drill choice

100m kick

Camberwell pool is a glorious old building that houses a beautiful pool.  The pool and air temperature were ridiculously hot here and it was also super busy.  We saw Rita, who coaches us down the lido in the summer, as she teaches at this pool and she said to get the swim done quick as it only gets busier! At this point I think things were already getting to me as Rita asked where we were going next and I said Camberwell!

image image

We swam:

200m warm up

4*200m @ 75% 15 seconds rest

200m swim down.

Dulwich was an epic fail on my behalf.  We arrive there at 8:45 to be told that the pool closes for lessons at 9.  I thought it shut for lessons at 10 so had screwed that one up royally. The challenge means you have to swim 1km in each pool and even though we can swim 1km in just under 15 minutes I didn’t fancy the prospect of fitting in getting changed and the swim in 15 minutes or the quicker alternative of jumping in the pool fully clothed. We made a quick decision to head to Forest Hill and then sub in West Norwood before heading to Crystal Palace.

Forest Hill pool had 6 lanes of lane swimming.  They were narrower to accommodate this but sometimes that is better.  It meant there were 2 fast lanes and on us getting in 1 and swimming 1 length everyone who was in the lane either got out or moved to the other fast lane.  Result!!


We swam:

100m warm up

200m split 50m HARD 50m EASY 50m EASY 50m HARD

200m split 50m HARD 50m HARD 50m EASY 50m EASY

200m split 50m EASY  50m HARD 50m HARD 50m EASY

200m split 50m EASY 50m EASY 50m HARD 50m HARD

100m swim down

West Norwood didn’t start well when we arrived to see that the pool temperature was 28.6c. After getting changed we headed to the pool to see a boom across the pool splitting it.  I thought it might now be 20 metres… Brian wasn’t so sure. The lifeguards confirmed 16 metres…. 16 metres!!!!!! We ended up doing 66 lengths for 1056m.


We swam:

Whatever we could to get through it!

We then stopped for a quick bite to eat and a coffee.


Crystal Palace is where we train regularly.  Katie and I have been doing our weekend sets there for the last few years. The day long lane swimming, 50m metre pool and relatively good lane etiquette means it is a winner for longer sets… It is where the 100 x 100 took place.


We swam:

100m warm up

100m  @75%

200m @75%

300m @75%

400m @75%

300m @75%

200m @75%

100m @75%

300m swim down

It was a pleasant calm way to end the adventure.


Pool Crawl: South West London edition (January 2015)

Manda and I live in London. There are so many fantastic and historic pools all across the city, only a fraction of which we have ever swum in. To try and rectify this we decided, along with some of our swimming friend (Katie, Brian, Pivo and Lisa), to embark on the “Winter Pool Challenge 2014/15”. The rules are simple. You have to swim in as many pools in London between 1 October 2014 and 31 March 2015. You have to swim at least 1km in each pool and it has to be a pool which is open to the public – no gym pools allowed! For more details on the challenge see Manda’s previous entry

I am due to have my first baby on 27th January 2015 and therefore I decided I needed to get a bit ahead of the game before I am out of action for a bit. I therefore managed to persuade Manda to come of a “pool crawl” with me one Sunday. This is like the 30 somethings swimmers equivalent of what 20 somethings do on Saturday night. Who says swimmers aren’t super cool? Brian and Pivo were also up for the challenge.

Manda meticulously planned the route around South West London to ensure that we hit the pools during lane swimming time rather than during swim for all. We were allowing an hour for each pool. 20 minutes for swimming, 20 minutes for changing and 20 minutes for travelling in between.

Richmond Pools on the Park

We started the day at Richmond Pool on the Park. This is not a new pool for us but it is lovely. The site has an indoor 33.3m pool and an outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is heated but not open during the winter so it was the indoor pool for us. The pool was nice and quiet and as a special bonus we spotted James Cracknell, rowing legend, leaving the centre.

Despite Manda’s careful planning the day did not get off to an auspicious start when Pivo got on the wrong train and ended up in Staines! I didn’t mind so much as this gave me time for a bit of a head start. Being 38 weeks pregnant means I am sadly not as quick as I once was!

Pivo and Brian in the car
Pivo and Brian in the car

Putney Leisure Centre

Despite the delay we were back in the car by 2.10pm and on the way to Putney Leisure Centre. Putney holds a special place in my heart as it was the pool I did my first gala in and where I made my first final (66.6m breaststroke) aged 9. Manda and I also regularly swim in this pool with Swim For Tri.

On a Sunday afternoon though the pool is quite busy and I was glad we were only doing 1km.


After Putney it was time for a cake stop at the Wimbledon Windmill Tearooms ( – yay!

Morden Park Pools

After some refreshments (I mean cake) we were on the road again to Morden Leisure Centre. This is a new pool for me and I can’t say I would hurry back there! On the plus side it was quiet and we had a whole lane to ourselves.


Streatham Leisure Centre

The final pool stop of the day was the newly refurbished Streatham Leisure Centre. This pool is lovely with facilities for swimmers of all ages and abilities. We had managed to make for the adults only session but this did mean that the lanes were pretty busy.


The centre also has an ice ring (I was keener to go ice skating than swimming)!

After all the swimming we felt we deserved some pizza and pasta at a Term Mermaids favourite Bucci’s in Balham.

Pivo at Bucci's
Pivo at Bucci’s

Overall it was a great way to spend a Sunday. North / East London Pool Crawls are already in the planning!

Evidence of a hard days swimming
Evidence of a hard days swimming