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Local News

We went to the historic Hathersage Lido for an outdoor swim on a cold November night

today06/12/2021

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Swimming is is a real joy in the warm, summer months.

But, when the nights get darker and the temperatures drop, many of us would much rather be snuggling up at home than getting our cossies on for a dip.

For those that do keep up with their lengths during the cooler season, it would be safe to assume that the warmth of an indoor pool makes it a little more bearable.

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On a cold Thursday evening, however, I went without the indoor comforts of a centrally-heated leisure centre and (literally) dived in to experience the joys of open-air swimming.

It was pitch black and, unsurprisingly for November, rather chilly when I made the short dash to my car and began my journey to Hathersage Lido, which is not too far from Sheffield.

I was not sure exactly what to expect, but the pool has been on my to-do list for a while.

In fact, my only experience of outdoor swimming pools (besides fun paddling pools) was the truly horrific Victorian pool – still unheated at the turn of the 21st century – where I suffered through many a cold, cold swim during my early school years.

Luckily, Hathersage Lido was not quite like this.

The pool is supposedly heated to a balmy 28 degrees celcius, so I did not suffer any flashbacks of me, armband clad and teeth chattering à la Rose Dawson in the Atlantic, when I dipped my toes for the first time.

In fact, having made the excruciatingly cold dash from the showers – outdoor – to the pool – outdoor – getting in the water provided some much needed respite from the cold.

As I later learnt from Mike Wellington, the pool manager, that Thursday’s pool temperature was actually around 23 degrees but, compared to the five degrees outside the water, this was plenty.



It was a very cool night when I opted to visit the outdoor swimming pool
It was a very cool night when I opted to visit the outdoor swimming pool

The swim itself was much like any other lane swimming session, though it was nice to be out in the open with a starry sky above your head.

It was also a welcome change to not be surrounded by the overwhelming aroma of chlorine and feet.

What I absolutely did not enjoy though, was walking back to the changing rooms after my swim – would an indoor changing room ruin the outdoor swimming experience? I don’t think so.

When I caught up with Mike, who has worked at Hathersage pool for 10 years, at the end of my swim he told me that it definitely gets quieter over winter.

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He said: “It’s a bit more niche during these months, obviously we are still heated so it’s busier than it would normally be pre-Covid this time of the year.

“At weekends you do get some families and stuff like that, but during the week it tends to be more the hardened people that are really into the wild swimming and outdoor swimming because they can’t go swimming in lakes and reservoirs and rivers as much this time of year, because the temperature of the water is a lot less.”

Mike told me that Hathersage has only recently become a heated outdoor pool and, in years gone by, it was a cold water outdoor pool.

He said: “A couple of years ago we did used to do cold water swimming, it’s only in the last couple of years, since we’ve had the refurb, that we’ve only moved into heated winter swimming.

“Before that we did cold water, so whatever the temperature was is what it was, I think the lowest it got was six degrees. And we still had what I class as barmy people wanting to go in.”

And with that comment, a fan of cold water swimming overheard Mike and quipped “we’re not that barmy you know”, telling me that she had once swam in water that was 1.8 degrees.

“That’s really cold”, she said, “you don’t really swim in it, the feeling is amazing but it’s not a swim, it’s a dip.”

For all my moaning about the cold outdoor changing rooms, I am reminded that it was only a couple of years ago that I could not resist a dip in the sea while holidaying in Saltburn – in November.

She’s right, the feeling is amazing.

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Written by: Rother Radio News


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today06/12/2021