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Winter Swimming

If you’re bored of your local leisure centre, check out a few other places to take a dip: swim on the rooftops or brave the Serpentine in Hyde Park…

Question:
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean I want to miss my swim. Where can I go in London?
Answer:
For the hardy, a dip outdoors even in winter is not out of the question. London has a thriving lido culture and there are lots of opportunities for taking a dip in the capital’s great outdoors with pools at Hampstead Heath, Tooting Bec and Brockwell all proving very popular in recent years.
Perhaps the most enticing outdoor pool, despite the freezing temperatures at this time of year, is the Serpentine lake, in Hyde Park. At present you’ll need to join Serpentine Swimming Club if you want to take the plunge as public swimming in the lake only runs from June to September, while the club has access all year round. To line up in the club’s famous Christmas Day Peter Pan Cup then you must take part in the Winter Series of races – no wetsuits are allowed in the competitive swims so brace yourself for a refreshing experience!
Another outdoor swim you might want to plan for is next year’s Hampton Court Swim which gives swimmers a perfect opportunity to tackle the Thames. The race, which takes place on July 21, is 2.25 miles long and the course moves downstream along the river from Henry VIII’s historic palace to Kingston Bridge. If you want to take part you’ve got plenty of time to enter, with the closing date being July 15, 2013.
Other options for winter swims in London are somewhat exclusive and you might have to join a club or pay a visit to a swanky London hotel in order to swim in style. Members club, Shoreditch House, in east London, is a haven for media types that boasts a 16-metre rooftop pool. The pool is open from 7am to 10pm and is available to club members all year round.
Another rooftop option is at The Berkley Hotel, in Knightsbridge, that boasts stunning views across the city and when it gets too nippy a roof can slide over to keep the pool area under cover.

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