Covid-19: Lido astonished by demand for cold water swimming

Covid-19: Lido astonished by demand for cold water swimming

A lido that has decided to open in the winter to offer cold water swimming said it had been taken aback by demand.

Woburn Lido, in Bedfordshire, usually operates from May to September but has been offering sessions this winter.

They have proved so popular that the charity-run pool is putting on extra sessions over Christmas.

“The demand has taken us by surprise. We walked into this not knowing what to expect, but we have been astonished,” said trustee Murray Heining.

Mr Heining said customers had asked them to consider opening for cold water swimming for a while, and once they realised it was financially viable they went ahead.

“Most of the sessions have sold out and we are adding more,” he said.

The charity is now planning how it can remain open all year round.

“We don’t want to see it left empty and it’s looking good for the future”, Mr Heining added.

The Outdoor Swimming Society says thousands of people swim outside safely every year, but warns that immersing yourself in cold water does carry some risks, including cold shock, incapacitation, cramp and hypothermia.

It advises people to get expert medical attention before winter swimming if they have a heart condition, high blood pressure, asthma or are pregnant.

It says you should only swim sober, and avoid cold water if you have a hangover.

Becky Eales, 41, from Bow Brickhill, Milton Keynes, recently had her first cold water dip – something she had always wanted to try.

She managed to stay in for about 30 minutes, until her “hands went numb”, she said.

“All my friends think I am crazy, but it was good, refreshing and awakening. I will continue to go, as I slept really well and I don’t normally sleep well.”

Alison Billington, 51, from Flitwick in Bedfordshire, had a stroke in 2012 and swims to help her recovery, but coronavirus has made her nervous about going to a leisure centre.

She “took the plunge, quite literally” in “bracing” water of 12C (54F).

“I wasn’t there to impress anybody, just to develop my love of swimming and challenge myself,” she said.

The pool is open every Wednesday and at the weekend, and extra sessions have been added for the 26 and 28 December as well as New Year’s Day.

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