southampton lido, orange hat ladies, sea baths

Green Water Memories

Tides, and the state of the tide, can really affect your sea swimming experience. When you know you’re restricted to swimming at a particular time you just have to go with the flow (no pun intended) and swim with what water you have. This can mean stumbling over rocky low water coastal reveals only to end up in shallow water for much of your swim. On the other hand it makes a good Spring high tide feel like an absolute treat when it sits at just the right time of day for your dip!

Of course there is an alternative available to some who want to swim in the open air, in salty sea water and at all states of the tide – sea water pools.

Due to the recent increase in sea swimming, some pools are managing to be revived with local, community action. One such pool is St Monans Pool in East Neuk of Fife, Scotland and the beautiful photos on their Facebook page certainly make it look inviting. The pool is in an idyllic coastal location south of the peninsula from St Andrews. Jenifer Jones who helped restore the tidal pool explains:

Evidently they are not alone, with a number of crumbling pools reported as being revived and restored across Scotland. Closer to home we have extraordinary projects like the Saltdean Lido (just outside Brighton) which has managed to be saved in the nick of time by a committed and heartfelt restoration project. Work has now finally begun to restore it with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the plans look amazing for the Deco buildings around the pool.

This reminded me that we do still have the Sea Baths at Lymington here on The Solent and that I haven’t ventured over since I was a kid in the 70’s/80’s! They’re open April to September for fun focused swimming so definitely more of a giggle and splash venue.

This led me to think about the old Southampton Lido which sadly closed in 1977, having originally opened in 1854 (when it was directly situated on the shore of Southampton Water before more land was created for the docks). As a kid I used to visit the Lido frequently in the summers and it felt like the “best thing ever”. It had slides and diving boards, was outside in the sunshine, and….very green water from what I remember, but when you’re a child you don’t really notice or care. I have no idea how often the water was changed but problems with the filtration system often meant that the pool had to close at short notice. We’ve been very keen to protest about the current pollution situation but I dread to think what restrictions there used to be on the captured water in the 1970’s! At least with the sea the water is changed twice a day…. By absolute coincidence, The Daily Echo published some ’70’s photos of the Lido this week. I swear everyone was wearing pretty much the same swimsuits as one another, and love how we used to queue to get in, all adding to the excitement.

southampton lido, orange hat ladies, sea baths

I’ve always thought it a strange idea in some ways that there are swimming pools right next to the sea, but for many it has meant that they have been able to enjoy salt water swimming whilst feeling safe, having no worries about tides, currents or waves. The sea, even on a warm, calm day can seem daunting to some, yet the chlorinated pool is a very different experience all together, and so the seawater pool is an ideal compromise. I love rock pools and sea baths – they conjure up memories of sunny childhood holidays and have an element of excitement even though I grew up sea swimming at the beach.

But I have to say that I do hold particularly happy memories of the green waters of the Lido!

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