Water, water everywhere or at any rate over 71 per cent of the world’s surface and there’s plenty to enjoy where we are too in pools, lidos, lakes, water and splash parks
At this time of year with temperatures on the up and the need to cool off, nothing can beat the urge to enjoy a dip in a pool or a splash in the sea.
The obvious first port of call is your local pool or lido. The historic Thames Lido is anything but just a pool for a swim and to cool off, tuck into Mediterranean tapas and mains in a glass-walled space at the historic renovated pool in the heart of Reading. The outdoor pool is heated year round and if you like it hot why not try the saunas or hot tub? Spoil yourself with a massage, or make a day of it with a delicious lunch or try the twilight package with a swim, use of hot tub / sauna, a massage and glass of Prosecco – heaven!
If it’s rowdy, crazy water fun you’re after then Coral Reef Waterworld in Bracknell is a must. One of the largest interactive water worlds in England, it has a huge range of different ways to enjoy the water with thrilling waterslides, an erupting volcano, a pirate ship and a variety of other features, there’s something for everyone in the pool area. If you’re after something a little more chilled, the adults-only Coral Spa area is the ideal place to relax and get away from it all.
Caversham Lakes is a natural open space showcasing the great outdoors and nature in what is a real social sanctuary with a safe playground set on a freshwater lake in the heart of the Thames Valley. There’s something for everyone – open water swimming, stand up paddle boarding, make a splash with aqua park fun, the family beach is a great place to relax in the sun or follow a nature trail.
Wycombe Rye Lido boasts a 33m heated pool, with grass and terraced sunbathing areas, a summer’s day at Wycombe Rye Lido is a day dream come true. It has all year round heating, and also sports underwater lights for those who want to swim when the sun goes down.
Longridge Activity Centre in Marlow is another option for a fun day out on the water with kayaking, canoeing, dragon boating, rafting and bell boating all available in addition to a wide range of land-based activities to throw yourself into too. Book on to an activity day or check out the weekend courses. Stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking can also be tried at Engage Watersports in Taplow who “learn by having fun”.
Providing a first-class outdoor swimming facility that makes a positive contribution both to the community and to the health and wellbeing of the residents of Woburn and the surrounding areas is the mission of Woburn Lido and they are achieving this with their 23 metres long and nine metres wide pool. The variable depth of the pool also makes it perfect for both families and lane swimmers.
Water safety tips
It is never a good idea to swim alone in open water, even if you are highly experienced. Beginners should always swim with another more experienced swimmer or at a venue with safety crew or lifeguards.
Choose your venue carefully. NOWCA affiliated venues require all swimmers to wear a NOWCA wristband. The sophisticated safety system allows the crew to keep track of who is in the water.
Open water spaces can harbour harmful microbes. Make sure the venue meets requirements (Directive 2006/7/EC and Bathing Water Regulations 2013).
Go at your own pace. Swim in the stroke you are most comfortable with – except backstroke, you need to see where you are going! Start with a short swim course. If you do find yourself in trouble, stay calm and raise your hand so the safety crew can assist you.
Remember to have fun! There is a strong supportive community and it’s a great social activity. Learn from other swimmers and their experiences. Visit (nowca.org) for more.
Growing up I spent many an hour in the summer at the Abbey Meadows Outdoor Pool in Abingdon. Newly renovated and heated (which it definitely wasn’t in my time), it offers lane swimming and ‘swim for all’ sessions. Parents can sit back and watch kids playing under the spray fountain in the splash pad in the park. Abbey Meadows Outdoor Pool is a fully accessibly facility, with ramp access and toilet facilities.
Really make a splash at Oxford Wet ‘n’ Wild at Queenford Lake, the park offers activities for all ages – run wild on the inflatable obstacle course and slides or hire paddleboards and kayaks. Whether you are a competitive swimmer, a triathlete or just enjoy wild swimming, the lake at Berinsfield is a very popular spot with four well-marked loops to navigate of distances from 350m to 1,000m – it’s the ideal spot for triathletes who like a cycle after their swim. Rinse off after in the outdoor lakeside shower and spend some time at the Wandering Kitchen café, the ‘burger & swim’ is a top choice!
Leisurely swim or fun splash time with the kids? Whichever you’re after Riverside Park and Pools in Wallingford next to the Thames and is the ideal spot. The heated outdoor pool offers a variety of sessions, including Swim for Fitness, Swim for All, Outdoor Aqua Aerobics and Swim Doctor. The Jubilee Splash Pad has been refurbished to create a more modern and fun splash pad for youngsters to enjoy.
Guildford Lido is one of the country’s few remaining original 1930s pools and one of the most popular, attracting more than 60,000 visitors on average each season and it’s not hard to see why. Set in four and a half acres of landscaped gardens, the heated Olympic size pool is the ideal spot to chill out, have fun (there’s a mini golf course too), take a picnic and swim, of course. If you like to make a splash there are three exciting slides to whizz down including a mini slide for water babies.
The large paddling pool in Stoke Park, Guildford is shallow enough for tots of all ages to enjoy a refreshing dip. A beach design on the yellow part and the flow of the pool comes up gently to make youngsters feel at ease. A play park, mini golf and 52 acres of glorious gardens make it a great spot to spend a few hours all round.
Aldershot Lido is the largest open air pool in Hampshire and is the perfect spot to spend a hot summer’s day. Three fun waterslides (suitable for 8 years+), a toddler paddling pool and large sandpit, 1m mixed diving board, picnic area in a scenic landscaped garden, basketball area and refreshments all make this a very popular place to cool off.
West Berkshire & Wiltshire
The 150-year-old Newbury Lido has undergone a renovation and while the pool itself has been reduced in length to 50m, it now boasts a new splash toddler pad and racer slides. The revamp means the pool is shallower to allow easier maintenance. New changing facilities have also been added to improve the overall experience to make summer more enjoyable for all. Pre-booking has been introduced this year too.
How about this to add some real glamour and style to your wild swimming experience? Wasing Estate at Aldermaston invites you to enjoy the beautiful tranquillity of the woodland lake as you enjoy a dip before warming up again in the wood-fired sauna and enjoying the stunning views across the lake. You need to be a member here to enjoy this level of luxury, you’ll be more than rewarded for splashing out!
A 25 metre, deck level, pool catering for a wide range of local swimmers and clubs can be found at The Link Centre, Swindon; Marlborough Leisure Centre; Kennet Leisure Centre in Thatcham and Hungerford leisure Centre; all have 25m pools – perfect for swimming some lengths.