Brighton's new outdoor swimming pool

The Guardian reports: A historic but forlorn stretch of Brighton seafront is set for a facelift thanks to a new 50-metre outdoor swimming pool, which is due to open in spring 2022.

Brighton and Hove city council gave the green light for the heated Olympic-size pool on Wednesday. It will be built on Madeira Drive, in Kemptown, not far from the historic Volk’s Electric Railway and a few minutes’ walk from Brighton’s Palace Pier.

For the past two summers, this stretch of pebble beach has been the site of a fitness-hub pop-up, operated by Sea Lanes, with an indoor endless-pool training facility – that allows swimming against an adjustable current – a beach cafe and bar, and converted horse-box saunas. Brighton-based adventure tour operator SwimTrek has been running guided open-water swims from the beach and the operator will base its headquarters at the new beachfront pool site.

“Part of the Sea Lanes vision included working with British Swimming to become its first national centre for open-water swimming, alongside its centres for swimming at Bath and Loughborough Universities,” said McNulty. “The 50-metre pool is one of the key features and now we have a planning decision, we will be in a position to progress the conversation with British Swimming.”

According to a 2019 Swim England study, 7.5 million people in the UK swim outdoors. And many people have been turning to the water since lockdown began. Since the first lockdown, the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) has seen website traffic increase by 46% (785,000 visitors) and membership by 36%. Local wild swim groups report a 50-500% growth, with open-water lakes reporting up to a 1,000-fold increase in visitor numbers.

OSS founder Kate Rew said wild swimming had reached a tipping point. “With pools shut and people looking for outdoor exercise close to home, thousands of people have made this the time to embrace rivers, lakes and the sea.”

She added: “Brighton has a huge swimming culture and this new pool will help drive nationwide aquatics forward. There’s a world of difference between training in a 25m and 50m pool for recreational and competitive swimmers, and we have precious few of them in this country.”