This weekend, not one, but two brand new public swimming pools come into action in the borough. Both can be found in the basement level of Camden’s gleaming HQ building, and have been designed to score maximum environmental, cost efficiency and accessibility Brownie points.
We took a sneak peek at the centre last week, complete with white curved changing rooms and enticing large jacuzzi, and can confirm the project – which has come about after consultation with residents in this previously neglected part of Camden – looks fab. Light pours in from street level, while colours dance across a special lightbox wall; better still, a swim starts from only £2.10 (or £1.25 for children).
Among the ‘Sports Day’ launch celebrations this weekend (July 19 & 20) is a chance to join in an underwater disco as well as try out the various well-spring gym facilities. So break out the budgie smugglers and dive in. And while we’re on the subject, here are our top five public pools nearby.
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5. Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, Adelaide Road
Not quite the vast palace of swimming it once was. The iconic if problematic original 1960s complex, (complete with three big pools, one Olympic-sized with terrifying diving boards), was bulldozed for the current 25m one, but it’s still a decent bright and airy space for an indoor dip. There’s a splash-tastic kids area mercifully behind a glass partition too.
Astutely named, these indoor and outdoor options nestled in the heart of West End Theatreland quickly transport the swimmer a world away from the honking busses and tour group elbows bobbing all around. It can get a little splashy when the sun is out, but nipping down for a quick dip in the sunshine still feels like a proper lunchtime holiday for locals and office workers alike.
Except for the hottest summer afternoon, where the concrete terraces resemble the beach at Bournemouth on a bank holiday, this vast steel-lined outdoor pool is a serene spot. Serious swimmers brave its consistently cold waters to clock up lengths year round. And, of course, the three Heath ponds are nearby if you fancy taking your alfresco bathing ambitions a little deeper.
2. 5 Pancras Square, King’s Cross
State of the art, energy efficient and brand spanking new, these facilities are straight in at number 2 for bringing all kinds of benefits to residents of King’s Cross and Somers Town, not to mention having a huge multi-coloured flashing wall. The smaller pool, with its spray jets and Jacuzzi looks fun, particularly if the weather makes a splash in the fountains of Granary Square ‘beach’ a little ambitious.
1. Kentish Town Sports Centre, Prince of Wales Rd
Beautifully restored Victorian baths, where the old meets the new in comfortable style. Light floods in via generous vaulted skylights in the family and Willes pools. Glide through your lengths beneath the original ornate viewing galleries, where at one time, the water used to be covered with boards to host boxing matches attended by thousands.
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5 Pancras Square opens at midday on Saturday. For all the details of what’s going on this launch weekend, head here
What’s your favourite pool, indoor or out?