Brockwell Lido has offered outdoor swimming to South Londoners for 73 summers, although sadly not consecutive with four years missed during the early 90s as part of a Lambeth Council cost cutting exercise.
I am proud to be entering my 15 season as a swimmer down in SE24, and one that for personal reasons, sadly may also be my last.
The 1937 Grade II listed pool provides locals with a 50m yard unheated (hurrah!) stretch in which to swim, as well as a state of the art modern gym, housed away in a refurbishment that was completed three summers ago.
The awarding of a 25-year lease from Lambeth Council to Fusion, has been the saviour of Brockwell Lido.
The gym makes money all year round, enabling al fresco swimmers to enjoy lido life for the six months of the year when South London hits a heat wave.
Ah, yes - about that current South London heatwave...
The Happiest Day of the Year in South London was the morning after the general election.
If the election results weren't enough to give you a kick up the backside, then the tepid 12 degrees temperature on the first morning of the pool being open made diving in a personal political act.
The anticipation of meeting up once again with the lovely lido community is the inspiration to drag your aching body down to Brockwell Park at 6.30 in the morning. It almost made the months of misery spent bemoaning Brixton Rec seem bearable.
As ever, you’ve done the hard part by being in the park. Once you are poolside, then you are going to swim. With a wetsuit hugging my toned torso (steady) what could go wrong?
A great leap of faith into the deep end, and I had forgotten how the Happiest Day of the Year also leads to your head exploding, should you make the silly mistake of forgetting your bright pink swimming cap. Bugger. Halfway down the first length and I panicked.
The arms and legs were functioning, but the head had long since lost circulation. I started to see things on the other side of the pool that all rational thought tells you simply don’t exist.
That wasn’t *really* a naked female swimmer, was it?
I persevered, and after five minutes of a frantic freestyle motion, my conscious existence soon returned. I looked above as a flock of geese passed overhead, observing my every motion, and I then broke out into a great big underwater smile that will probably remain all the way until the season closer come October.
A return to the heated changing rooms was a welcome respite. The continual blasting out of Radio Twaddle on the internal sound system is something that I, and other early morning swimmers, could well do without.
But a minor gripe in what has signaled the start of six months of early morning swimming and grinning down at the lovely lido.
By the time I had showered and put back in place my three layers of clothing, I was just about able to walk in a straight line once again. These will gradually be shed, one by one, over the coming weeks, along with the wetsuit as I acclimatise back into the routine of daily lido life.
The lovely Lido Cafe was open for the Breakfast Club, and the public art project from local artists Gethin and Myles, was proudly on display in the basin of the pool for those brave enough to take a dip.
Memories of lido life from local users have been lovingly painted around the perimeter of the pool, as a statement of some form of private underwater reading club.
Expect the pool temperature to rise to around twenty degrees come mid-June, peaking at a positively Mediterranean twenty-five degrees by July. Best keep the wetsuit ready from here onwards... (especially if you go for the annual winter swim).
A lido swim doesn't come cheap at £5.20 per adult. This is a figure calculated more in line with the traditional lido ethos of having a swim, and then arseing about poolside for the rest of the day. Season tickets at £150 represent far better value for money.
The lido community is set to truly take off this season, finally having a functioning lido cafe upon which events can be arranged. Brothers Daniel and Duncan not only provide poolside refreshments, but also high class cuisine and an entertainment schedule during the evenings.
So yeah, 15 years of putting the lengths in at the lido, and 15 summers 'wasted' by sitting around the poolside doing bugger all.
Golden Days I tell you, Golden Days.