The Tooting Bec Lido is a wonder of the natural world. London's largest open-air freshwater swimming pool. 1,000,000 gallons of water, 100 yards in length and 4 minutes from my front door. I swim year round there.
There are many things to love about this remarkable outdoor place: on your own swimming quietly in sun or rain (or snow) or as part of much more public events organised by the South London Swimming Club's (SLSC) - Cold Water Swimming Championships every other year, Sunday morning races every week and completelely bonkers things like synchronised swimming and doggy paddle galas.
In 2006, to celebrate Lido’s 100th centenary year, I ran Dive In Movies, a swimming pool film bonanza featuring Million Dollar Mermaid, The Swimmer and short films going back to 1906. The combination of summer evening, a swim, and a some memorable films proved a sell-out. I will never forget the films arriving from Hollywood on massive reels which were hauled onto the projector Cinema Paradiso style. Everyone has been wearing 50's Esther Williams costumes ever since.
Having celebrated the last 100 years, the SLSC are now looking to celebrate the next 100 years. 'Future Lido' asks 'what do current swimmers have to put in place today to ensure the pool is still there for future generations in 100 years' time?' David Gibson architects have proposals for a wonderful Deep End design for a grass roofed building.
The next UK Cold Water Swimming Championships are on 26th January 2013. Mmm that will need an opening ceremony...
"You never meet a miserable cold water swimmer"