Outdoor swimming, open water swimming, wild swimming - whatever you call it, getting out in the fresh air and swimming outside is increasingly popular. Within an hour or so from Stoke-on-Trent there's a wealth of opportunity, from rivers, lakes, meres and pools to lidos. Check out the Outdoor Swimming Society's sensible guidance here - or follow Lucy's example here and get to know fellow swimmers and be introduced to safe swimming spots with swimming buddies. Lucy is part of a wider group that we know and swim with, and we loved her short story about her local lido.
I moved house to the edge of Sheffield three years ago. I knew this would open up a world of outdoor adventure with the Peak District on my doorstep and unexpectedly, Hathersage Swimming Pool, a stunning 1930s lido also became my local pool. It has a bandstand and you can see the mountains when you take a shower.
You can swim at 1am during the summer solstice, listen to live music while you do your lengths. You’re spoilt for choice with aquafit, aquayoga and homemade cake at any number of special events, thanks to a dedicated group of Hathersage Swimming Pool supporters. Yet there’s something else about Hathersage lido which makes it more than a swimming pool – the sense of place, The Dark Peak, its history and the people. It’s a place of wellbeing, escape, solace, celebration, community, friendship and connection. It’s many things to many people, it’s a centre in the hills and a place where you can feel centered.
I love the fact that you might find your gran swimming in a lane next to a grand master at Hathersage Masters Swimming Club. I’ve had more tips on technique from coaches, Mick Clarkson (ex-Team GB triathlete) and Henry Foxhall (ironman and tandem cyclist) in the last three years than in twenty years of club swimming. It makes me shiver as they walk up and down the poolside, coaching our team in rain, shine and yes, a hurricane.
Equally, these days, I’m into exceptional experiences rather than dreaming of exceptional times. I like to swim in places that few people know, at unusual times of day and with my preferred choice of swim pals. I want to take my time, be in the moment and absorb my surroundings in a river or lake. Similarly, there are few things better than an early-morning’s swim at Hathersage with the majestic Stanage Edge in the distance, followed by eggs and coffee on the poolside terrace with my swim buddy – life doesn’t come much better than this.
Hathersage Swimming Pool is a springboard for making things like this happen, not just for me but for many of the swimmers I’ve met.