Splish splash! Swimming with a toddler in South London

Another generic post but a nice one for a hot day, no? We’ve done a fair bit of swimming around the South London area (not literally swimming around South London…unless you believe that made-for -TV movie “Flood”. “Sir, if we don’t act fast, the people of Lewisham will perish”. Cue guffaws), so here’s a round up. The leisure centres mentioned are mostly the same as the ones in the soft play post but I am in no way recycing material. No no.

So, Camberwell to start with. This is a pool I have fond memories of, from the time when we lived down the road and proximity was a more important factor in choosing a pool than, say, basic hygiene. Back then it was a crumbling Victorian relic – full of character but also full of bits of plaster that have fallen off the walls. Not to mention the plasters that have fallen off people’s feet….Now, it’s been refurbished. It’s pretty (see above), they’ve kept the Victorian features and they’ve added a new cafe with Starbucks coffee (in Camberwell! I know!!) as well as flashy new changing rooms. Everything was well designed for ease of toddler handling and the showers were a reasonable temperature (i.e. not scalding hot a la Brixton). We went there for “Jelly Babies” which involved a lot of duckies and floats in the baby pool and which Reuben loved. Obviously, he tried to gather all the duckies up for himself by dint of snatching them from smaller children but that’s a toddler’s perogative, right? Definitely one to re-visit.

More details here (official website)

Next up, the old faithful Brixton. Not as bad as it sounds, honestly! Yes, you have to disappear up a less than salubrious alleyway in order to get a pushchair up there. Yes, the receptionists will ignore you until they feel like selling you a ticket. And yes, the view from the pool is directly on to the train line (great for a toddler boy, less great for people who don’t like commuters waving at them as they swim). But it’s not bad. The changing rooms are relatively new, there are big family changing rooms and a buggy park. And MASSIVE lockers, which is always nice. The family shower is scalding hot (as discussed) and the changing rooms are a touch on the cold side but fine other than that. The pool itself is pretty clean  and the adult lane swimming is separate from a shallower bit and a separate baby pool. Fine as a regular local haunt.

More details here (official website)

So, to Peckham? Have only been there once with Roo so can’t remember much about it. Pretty clean and modern, pretty sure I used the wrong changing room (disabled rather than family…hey, it just said “accessible”. Don’t be so politically correct if you don’t wanna confuse people). Some kind of complicated system with bands where you had to choose between main pool and baby pool when you paid. In general, too much thinking…

More details here (official website)

Battersea next…They say when you’ve had a traumatic experience somewhere, it can lie in your subconcious until you return to the scene of the incident. Is that why Roo insisted on screaming constantly when we took him back to Battersea, scene of Waterbabygate? Roo never got on with Water Babies. As lovely and baby-led as their philosophy was, there was just something about the classes that made Reuben very upset. Maybe it was the dunking under the water. Maybe it was the fact that we went in winter and it ws snowing almost every week. Out of his 10 weeks as a Water Baby (well, the 7 weeks we made it to. Look, it was snowing A LOT! And I started work again around week 8…), he earned a single commendation and that was for the “clinging to the side exercise”. The instructor made all the other Water Babies look at just how well Reuben did it…

Anyhoo, there’s nothing at all wrong with the place itself. The changing rooms are warm, even when there’s snow outside, and were refurbished around the time of Roo’s Water Babies career (that was another super-fun factor). The baby pool seems to be out of bounds for general public use but there’s a graduated beach-type entry to the main pool as well as an elephant water slide and a wave machine. It really is nice, it’s just gonna take a while for Roo to make his peace with it…

More details here (official website)

And that’s it for the ones I’ve tried with Reuben. There’s Seven Islands as well but based on a single experience in 2006 ish, I wouldn’t reommend it (flaking decor, blood on the changing room floor) and Elephant & Castle leisure centre definitely does NOT have a pool. If you turn up there with your towel as I did, they will laugh at you. And they would be within their rights…

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4 Responses to Splish splash! Swimming with a toddler in South London

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