60th birthday: planning 6 months of swims: April 2019

I will be 60 this year, so what else to do to mark the occasion but a lot of swimming? Making a start in London in April. I so enjoyed my 2016 swim journey – as well as the adventure, it was great to swim with others. So this year I’d like to do some swim journeys or clusters of swims in different parts of the country, ideally meeting up with other local swimmers. You can sponsor me if you would like to

framed old photo of swimmers
Ladies Pond swimmers from earlier years

My original plan was to start mid April, around the time of my birthday, and to start in Norfolk where I now live. But I couldn’t resist joining an early April journey to London to swim in the Ponds organised by local swimmers. We all watched The Ponds film (a very enjoyable documentary about swimming in Hampstead Ponds) in Norwich a few weeks ago and decided to go there on a trip.

distant view of london buildings
View from Parliament Hill, with lido just visible

I don’t know all of the Norwich swimmers, but am looking forward to getting to know them on the trip and the swims.

still water and boat in swimming pond
Kenwood Ladies Pond, before opening on an autumn morning

London was my home for 40 years – two thirds of my life – so as well as the Ponds and the Parliament Hill lido I plan to swim in three of my favourite London outdoor pools during my time there. (Links to more info on the lidos and ponds below.)

outdoor pool with swimmers
Oasis lido

The Oasis really is an oasis in the centre of London, a delight to go to after work meetings.

outdoor pool and front of building with banner 'lido open'
Park Road lido – the pool and the entrance

Park Road pool is an overlooked gem in North London, recently refurbished, heated and open all year.

faces of two swimmers at lido
Imogen and Fiona at London Fields Lido, June 2016

I completed my A12 journey at London Fields, welcomed by Fiona with a wonderful cake. I remember the lido before it closed in the 1980s. I thought it was freezing, but it was absolutely thronged in the summer. Now it is heated and incredibly popular, and it shows how a lido can be brought back to life by determined campaigners (though this article asks if it is another sort of gentrification).

60th birthday: six months of swims around the country during spring and summer

I haven’t yet planned in any detail any of the other swimming trips for the year, but the next one is likely to be in late April, a swim safari in Norfolk.

swimmers in a river
Norfolk swimmers in the Bure

At some point I will do Essex and Suffolk swims. I plan to go to Liverpool, Chester and possibly into North Wales. Also Sheffield, Derby area, Midlands Lincolnshire and the Fens. A quick trip to Kent. A trip to Sussex and Hampshire, probably combined with a visit to the South West, Cardiff, and the Forest of Dean. A West London and Oxfordshire trip might be bolted onto that – who knows? I hope to meet up with swimmers I’ve met on Facebook or in real life. other local swimmers. You can sponsor me if you would like to

sunset on sea with head of swimmer
Brightlingsea summer solstice swim

Links to more info on the lidos and swimming ponds:

Parliament Hill Fields lido


London Fields Lido

Park Road pools

Hampstead Heath men’s pond

Kenwood Ladies pond

Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association

Swimming Hampstead Heath (info on all 4)