As restrictions ease and the days lengthen, outdoor swimming venues are finally opening up to the public again.
Although they may not offer as wild a swim experience as tossing yourself off the end of a pier into a churning ocean, they provide the perfect place for those who are nervous about taking their first steps into the thrill that is wild swimming, with many providing lifeguard cover.
They also can be the perfect training ground for any budding distance open water swimmers or triathletes, enabling more focused training.
My favourite though has no lifeguards, but is somewhere you can always be sure that whatever the weather or time of day, you will always have the safety of fellow swimmers (plus the ever-present swans) looking out for each other.
It’s less a place for shaving 10th’s of a second off of your PR, and more about enjoying the extra seconds you are spending in the water.
It’s seeped in history, with its merky waters affectionately referred to as duck poo soup.
If you want to go Wild swimming in London, there's nowhere more central than the Serpentine.
The Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park can trace its roots back to 1864 when they held their first Christmas Day race.
Their races do come with a twist, with faster swimmers being given a handicap, ensuring it’s not just the elites that have a chance at glory.
There is something magical about the contrast of calmly floating, letting the cold water lap over whilst being smack bang in the centre of a noisy, stressful, major city. It’s definitely somewhere to try wherever you are from.
As with most walks of life, the pandemic has meant that it’s not business as usual.
One thing I do miss though has to be the changing room. Closed since the beginning of the pandemic they are a cramped affair, reminiscent of PE changing rooms clad with wooden benches.
However it’s not the creature comforts that I miss. It’s the overheard conversations, the club rule that you must always say good morning to fellow swimmers upon entering and that there is always homemade cake on offer. There are no lockers, just a sea of lobster red bodies recounting how long they were in for before heading off into the great metropolis to the wide variety of jobs that this unique swim spot attracts.
I remember hearing once a couple of barristers start to discuss a high profile case before, wisely, realising they should probably continue the conversation outside.
I cannot wait to get my pre-work cold water fix again. With the ebb and flow of restrictions, at the time of writing the club is reopening on the 29th March 2021 to members only from 5:30am to 9:30am.
The cost of becoming a member is £20 for the rest of the calendar year, no matter when you sign up. You then have no other charges to pay.
It’s worth noting that last year due to the influx of membership requests, they did have to restrict them for a period, and it remains to be seen if it will be the case this year.
In normal times the Serpentine does open its banks to the wider paying public during the summer months. For up to date information head here.