Now I know the pool is in the middle of the park and the park is full of steps (beautiful steps but not buggy friendly!). So I caught a bus that took we to the train station which is slightly down the hill. Well, I thought that this should have been straightforward from here except it wasn't really. I could see the centre but getting to it took me on a tour around the running track, past a very crashed car and then I was faced with a flight of steps! Oh dear me! So there was I bumping the baby up the stairs, hoping my arms wouldn't give out.
It took me way to long to get to the swimming pool but anyway, we were here now and raring to get in the water! Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was built in 1964, is a listed building and until the recent Olympics was some of the best facilities in the capital. The main pool is 50m long and there is a teaching and a training pool. When we finally arrived, we got in, paid our fees and asked the receptionist what we needed to do. We took a lift down to the changing rooms. These were big open spaces with some private cubicles and at least one which had room for a buggy. We sheltered in there and wrestled with getting undressed (I am still so rubbish at this -I go into panic mode).
They don't have a buggy park in the changing room but there is plenty of space for them. Also they have big lockers which could store a folded up buggy. So everything was in it's place, clothes away, towels in hand, baby tucked under arm! And.... here we go!
We followed the sign to the pools. We weren't quite sure -were we in the teaching pool or training pool? We followed one sign, had a peek in and there was a swimming lesson in progress so not there! Then we ask a life guard fella, who was very helpful and told us where to go (and then had a good look at my bottom - I so hate wandering around in my swimsuit!)
So we reached the pool which has several steps going into the shallow water. It is is in a huge, very light space next to the main pool and some people have suggested it is a bit like being outside. We sat on the steps and had a play. I did find it a little cold sitting half in the water but we had our fun and then went back to the changing rooms for the complication that is getting dressed.
We used the shower briefly and then got changed in the main area as it gave me more space to manoeuvre. The baby was put on the floor quite a few times so I could get bits and pieces for her. It is still not a smooth operation. They didn't teach me this at school or antenatal class.
So I'd say we quite liked the pool, changing room space was good, larger lockers for folded buggies but no clearly marked buggy park. I did feel a bit cold at the pool side. I would go back if my partner was with me because I'd like a swim in the big pool enveloped in water and light while he looked after the baby!
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre Information
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is located at Ledrington Road London, SE19 2BB
At the sports centre, adults (non-members) pay £4.50 (peak) or £2.55 (off-peak) per swim and junior (non-members) pay £2.25 (peak) or £1.85 (off-peak). Family Swim (2 adults /2 children) is £9.10. From Monday to Saturday before 10am (during the school holidays), kids go free. After 10am, they can swim for a £1 during public swims.
The centre can be contacted on 020 8778 0131
The opening times of the swim for all and are:
Monday 12:00 to 1:30 and 3:00 to 5:00pm (Teaching Pool)
Tuesday 7:00 to 9:30pm (Training Pool)
Wednesday 3:00 to 5:00pm (Teaching Pool)
Thursday 10:00 to 12:00pm (Teaching Pool)
Friday 3:00 to 5:00pm (Teaching Pool)
Saturday 9:00 to 2:00pm (Teaching Pool)
Sunday 9:00 to 12:00 and 3:00 to 5:00pm (Teaching Pool)
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:
- our review of Latchmere Leisure Centre
- our review of Brixton Recreation Centre
- our review of Clapham Leisure Centre
- our review of Camberwell Leisure Centre