Share your love of swimming - Get info on training to become a swim teacher from just £79

Lido Ladies' long-awaited return to outdoor swimming will be ‘like going home’

Lido Ladies Nicola Foster and Jessica Walker admit that it will be ‘like going home’ when they return to outdoor swimming.

As part of the Government’s roadmap, outdoor pools can reopen from Monday 29 March – and the pair have their swim booked.

They describe their passion of outdoor swimming as a ‘life buoy’ that they’ve longingly missed since pools last closed due to the third national lockdown.

Nicola, who swam competitively as a youngster, was convinced to get back into the water by her friend, Jessica, after 25 years out of the sport.

Former dancer Jessica took up swimming as a way to keep fit. Both are now in their mid-50’s and the duo are popular among the outdoor swimming community.

They explained that they are ‘beyond excited’ to return on the first day of reopening, with Nicola adding: “We’re going to be over at Hillingdon, the BETTER facility, on Monday 29 March.

“Of course, that pool is unheated so Jessica has been preparing for that. And we’re actually booked for 2 o’clock in the afternoon at Charlton so that we can get a swim in a heated lido.”

About their return, Jessica said: “It’s a bit like going home every morning, you meet these people and you just have a quick chat and everything, you have your swim and it sets you up for the day.

“It just gives me a really gorgeous, warm feeling both in and out.

“I think in particular, because we’re regular swimmers and we usually swim around the same spot, you get very fond of your fellow swimmers.

“I’ve just really missed them and there’s some fabulous characters around the pool.”

Although the experience will be slightly different to a pre-Covid swim, the Lido Ladies are still confident that it will be just as good.

Having swam in between lockdowns when restrictions allowed, both say they felt happy with the safety measures taken.

Nicola said: “When the pools reopened in July last year they all had to be laned, you have to book your slot, it’s all very well organised and socially distanced. It felt very safe.”

“You need to prep yourself. You can’t loiter in a changing room, there are showers outside by the pools but it’s a different sort of approach to the swim,” added Jessica.

“It’s quite basic I suppose, but do we feel safe? Absolutely, 100 per cent sure, definitely.”

Swimming under the sky

Like many swimmers, the pair have struggled with not being able to go swimming during the latest lockdown.

Nicola admitted that she ‘shed a tear’ on the night that it was announced pools would again close their doors.

While Jessica described lockdown as ‘incredibly challenging’, saying: “The first lockdown was bearable, the second was tolerable.

“Obviously we assumed some sort of normality over the summer months and were really enjoying the freedom and being able to swim every day. Then the third lockdown, this lockdown, has been so incredibly challenging.”

But as the journey along the roadmap continues, they both cannot wait to be ‘swimming under the sky’ once again and with a surprise in store for Monday’s reopening.

Renowned for their flowery and creative costumes, Jessica revealed: “We won’t give a spoiler but we are very much embracing the fact that we’ve fallen in love with Britain again.

“We’ll be in red, white and blue and we shall be flying the flag.”

Picture credit: Lotta Haegg of BBC Radio London.