Finally recovered from the trauma of last year’s visit to Brockwell Lido, I took myself off there again this weekend. It is a stunningly beautiful place – more attractive in every way than the Endell Street baths, where you’ll more commonly find me – and early on Easter Sunday morning, it was blessedly empty.
The last time I was there, the combined shock of the cold water and the length and depth of the pool meant that I struggled to swim at all, panic overcoming physical strength almost immediately. This time around the water was no warmer, but I’m so much better at swimming than I was a year ago that I managed to fight through the cold and the panic, and about a length and a half in I started to enjoy myself.
In the end I swam ten lengths, which since the pool is 50 metres long means half a kilometre, which doesn’t sound far but is the first time in my life I’ve ever been able to measure a swim in kilometres rather than metres, even if it only was half a one. And it was blissful and gorgeous and I couldn’t believe I was less than five minutes’ walk from home, because it felt exactly like being on holiday, possibly somewhere angular and Scandinavian.
So I went back again yesterday, and it was swarming with children, apart from in the lanes which had been designated for Serious Swimmers (I could tell they were serious, because they all wore wetsuits and goggles and went at speeds more appropriate to motorised vehicles), of which I am not one. I managed two lengths of getting kicked and jostled and splashed on before I gave up and went and sat poolside with a book. And that was just as much fun as the swimming.
So now I have to decide whether I am going to become someone who swims at the lido, where it is bracing and elegant and I feel faintly heroic having swum there, or someone who swims at Endell Street, which is craven and heated and more like having a bath than a swim. I suppose I could alternate, but annoyingly the lido isn’t one of the pools included in my Swim London membership, so it’s a fiver each time I want to go. Am I a woman of action, or a woman of leisure? This summer, I’ll find out.
Talking of things you can do in Brockwell Park, I played bowls yesterday. Or boules, or petanque, I’m not sure, and in any case we played a bastardised version of it because we didn’t know the rules. But it was nearly as much fun as swimming, and a lot more sociable. I foresee more sunny afternoons spent on the bowling green.