Diving in to London’s lovely lidos

There was a good story in last weekend’s Travel and Indulgence section of The Weekend Australian on some of London’s outdoor swimming areas.  

Headed London’s Liquid Assets, Rosamund Burton’s story features Brookwell Lido, Tooting Bec Lido, Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath Ponds.

In the United Kingdom and some other countries, the word lido refers to a public outdoor swimming pool and surrounding facilities, or part of a beach where people can swim, lie in the sun or participate in water sports.

Wikipedia says the term lido is the Italian word for beach and forms part of the place name of several Italian seaside towns known for their beach, e.g. Lido di Venezia, the barrier beach enclosing the Lagoon of Venice. Possibly the term found its way into English from returning English visitors to Lido di Venezia, where sea-bathing took place from the late 19th century.[1] The word was first used for a public outdoor swimming pool in the UK in July 1935, in London.

As Rosamund Burton says in her article: “On sunny summer days these pools are packed with people of all ages, but the rest of the year it’s only the eccentric cold-water swimmers, exhilarated by a cool dip, who keep these pools open.”


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  • The London Fields Lido is also open all year long. It’s heated to around 25°C in the winter. I was there in mid-January and really enjoyed swimming outdoors in mid-winter. The steam rising off the water made it like swimming through thick fog.

  • Thanks Chris – did you see the story in The Weekend Australian. My local pool – Leichhardt Pool is like that on cold winter days – the rising steam makes for a very atmospheric swim.

  • Sorry Therese, I didn’t see the story, and, unfortunately, I’ve yet to have a swim at Leichhardt. I do enjoy winter swimming here in Sydney, but I swim at Wylies Baths in Coogee (where rising steam is seldom seen on cold days). Couple of photos of the London Fields Lido here, if you’re interested: http://lazyswimmer.blogspot.com/2011/01/london-fields-lido.html
    http://lazyswimmer.blogspot.com/2009/04/london-fields-lido-in-january.html Cheers Chris

  • If you are interested Chris there is a link to Rosamund Burton’s story on my post. Will check out your photos – the London lido is certainly an interesting element of the world of pools. Leichhardt is a great pool because you can swim outdoors in winter time and is in a nice location. It’s heated to 27 degrees so it’s quite a pleasant temperature – I would imagine quite a bit warmer than Wylies but of course not salt water which is great to swim in. Happy swimming

  • I had a look at a photo of Crouch End Lido Jennifer – as you say nice for summer swimming. And yes I got the impression that the ones at Hampstead Heath were a bit like swimming in a pond at Centennial Park – hopefully a bit better.


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