UK outdoor swimming venues stay open to meet demand

UK outdoor swimming venues stay open to meet demand

The Guardian reports: The nights are drawing in; it is chilly and damp. But these are ideal conditions, it seems, for the country’s newly converted army of outdoor swimming fans.

In the summer, the pandemic closed indoor swimming pools across the UK – about one in five have yet to reopen – and thousands of swimmers started taking regular dips in open-air pools, lakes and rivers as an alternative.

At one point, demand was so high that the Outdoor Swimming Society was forced to take down its map of wild swimming spots in an attempt to prevent overcrowding.

But colder weather, more challenging water temperatures and the discomfort of wriggling into dry clothing in public is failing to deter many of the converts.

Better, which manages leisure services for local councils around the country, said it was keeping its West Reservoir venue in east London open for swimming into the winter for the first time this year because of the high demand.

The number of swimmers attending West Reservoir has soared from 1,600 in 2019 to 19,000 this year, making it busier than some of the heated pools on Better’s roster.

However, not all outdoor swimmers are looking to chill out. At Hathersage pool in the Peak District, where the water is heated to 28C in October, the number of swimmers taking a dip this month is nearly three times that of last year, and there has been a surge of almost 90% since July, despite social distancing limitations.

George Foy, the pool’s assistant manager, said: “People want to be outdoors. In this Covid situation, all the advice points to being outdoors as much as possible, and once people have been here, they see how they can swim into October.” Read more...

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