Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Taking Baby for a swim part 2: Review of Clapham Leisure Centre

So we went swimming again. And decided to try another local facility: the very new Clapham Leisure Centre. Now the old pool was sentimental to me. I spent time there as a child; I did my primary school swim lessons there and as a teen, I hung out with friends at the pool on a Saturday morning. So I was expecting great things of this pool to make up for the loss of a place with so many memories.

And in many ways, it reminded me of the old building. I'm sure it functions better but the new pool is smaller; it's not as long. And the teaching pool looks a similar size to the old  learners pool.

Anyway, let me start the story at the beginning. We paid our money and headed toward the entrance of the wet change area. We were met with a "no buggies past this point" sign and a prompt to leave the pushchair at the buggy park. Ok, this wasn't too bad as there were two of us going for the swim although the pushchair can be really useful if you need to put the baby down so you can get changed or dressed.

So our pushchair was locked out and we headed back to the wet change, carrying nappy bag, baby and swim stuff. Except now we had to take our shoes off as we entered the changing rooms which is a good thing. Outdoor shoes make a mucky wet change area. So we took our shoes off and added them to the list of things to carry (for those old enough to remember, it started to look like a scene from Crackerjack).

As we walked into the changing rooms, we realised that keeping our  socks on was a bad idea as the floor was wet. But with our hands full of things we couldn't get to our socks easily. So we just wandered the change area getting soggy and looking for a family changing room - which we couldn't find. So we used one of the group rooms (in a bit of a presumption that maybe they were for families which considering the size of the rooms, that would be one big family!)

Then the life guard came and chucked us out and we found the one, yes one, that's ONE(!) family change room. Now the good thing about this one room is it does have a baby change drop down wall fixture which you can put the baby on (though it has no straps and means you have to keep one hand on the baby!).

Swimming is such hard work!

Moving on, we got changed, put all our stuff in a locker and went to the teaching pool. The new swimming facilities are very clean and look great. There are certainly signs of better facilities for disabled users. So big tick there.

Next stop the baby gets into the pool with us. At this point, I dislike the pool again. I can either sit out of the pool or just about sit on the bottom holding the baby up in the water. Neither of which makes for much moving about. I shuffle across the pool, bumping my bottom along the floor of the pool to move around. So lets say I didn't feel as relaxed as I did at the Brixton Rec and I had screaming kids running around me there!

Swim done and we get out to find the ONE family change room is in use! So we pop into the next cubicle which can only fit one person in (not one and a child, just one person). I head to the shower with the baby and find the water to hot so head back and sit soaking wet and wait til my partner comes back because unless I put the baby down in the walkway, I can't get dressed. This really isn't an enjoyable experience. Eventually the ONE family change room was free and we were able to get dry and dressed.

I went really wanting to like this pool but was disappointed mainly with the lack of family change facilities. I understand they will be adding some more. Seem a shame to have made such a basic mistake in a new build.

Clapham Leisure Centre Information


Clapham Leisure Centre is located at 141 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DB

At the leisure centre, adults (non-members)  pay £4.25 per swim and babies pay £1.85. The centre can be contacted on 020 7627 7900.

The opening times of the teaching pool (public swim) are:

Monday       02:00 to 3:30pm
Wednesday  9:30 to 11:00 and 2:30 to 3:00pm
Saturday     2:00 to 6:00pmSunday        9:00 to 6:00pm

It's always worth phoning the pool to check it's open or that there hasn't been a change to the timetable.


Want to know more about swimming with babies in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, this sounds exactly like my experience of the pool too - except I didn't have my partner with me, so it was even harder! Such a shame they won't open the group change facilities (there are 6 of them!) to families when not in use by schools etc.