c’mon in, the water’s…busy

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Notwithstanding climate change, insect armageddon and the inevitable extinction of the human race, the real downside to the UK’s warmest February temperatures on record is that the lanes at West London’s finest swimming pool fill-up with local revellers keen on exercising for the first time since before winter set in. Not for these dippers are wetsuits or special waterproof booties and the draw of tessellating, shimmering patterns bouncing off the bottom of the pool takes on a hypnotic ‘look into my eyes, not around the eyes’ quality.

Hampton Lido is indeed a broad church and, to my mind, welcoming to all. Even breast-strokers. Probably. However, I’m confident there’s a Donald Tusk-esque circle of hell dedicated to those who swim too slow in the fast lane. Whilst I get the fact that ‘fast’ is an entirely relevant term, woe-betide a swimmer that slows the average speed of the lane, especially at the pointy end.

I’m constantly baffled by how hot under-the-inflatable-collar people get about relocating lanes but I do have some sympathy for those who move up to a lane they clearly can’t keep up with, and for the cruel, cold-water retribution that’s subsequently meted out. No matter how quickly they spin their arms, kick their legs and gasp to refill their lungs the human torpedoes glide past, effortlessly, yet very noticeably passive-aggressively tumble-turning with a deftly executed douse of chlorine to the chops. Worse still, when the inevitable toe-tap is ignored, the Speedo speedsters will swarm close behind before standing-up suddenly with a barely concealed tut and twitch of the pecs. They not only want you to know you’re slow, they want the whole pool, including lifeguards and balcony spectators, to know it.

Mind, if they didn’t they might have to move-up a lane themselves and face a similar fate. It’s the law of the lido: fight or flight, splash or be splashed, sink or swim. I’m just relieved there’s no sand to be kicked around.