Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Taking Baby for a Swim Part 6: West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre

So things are a-changing! New leisure facilities have arrived and they need reviewing!

Princess Boo is less of a baby and definitely a toddler at 2 & 3/4 so our needs at the swimming pool have changed; however some issues are still the same. Let's take a look at Lambeth's latest addition to their swim facilities!

West Norwood's eagerly awaited lesiure centre opened during the summer. Would there be a creche to show that the council and leisure centre understood the needs of local mums? Hell no! The protest by Streatham Mums have been ignored. So although local parents aren't going to get a chance to take a small break from their kids to go to the gym or have a swim, they can bring the whole family for one of the family swim sessions.

The first rule of West Norwood swim is there is only one pool and it looks small. It is a standard 25m long and when it gets divided up so that other users can have private lessons, it starts to feel a little crowded. Saturday's swimming session felt a little cosy at times; however because the session is around lunchtime, most parents will be feeding their kids and shouldn't be taking them for a swim directly after food. A bit of strange planning by the leisure centre!

As Princess Boo is walking and talking and running and screaming, our needs at the swimming pool are slightly different. We still need a buggy park - and they do have a few spaces to store the pushchairs. On arrival, we gathered our swim stuff, parked the buggy (known as robot bug) and headed to the changing rooms. The pool is on the ground floor so easy to get to. There are separate male and female changing rooms. Each facility contains cubicled showers, toilets and changing areas. The changing space are good sizes so that even the single units have enough room for a parent and a child.

Me and Boo did some swift undressing as she kept trying to unlock the door which was very easy for her to do. I then had to load up our belongings into my arms and carry them out to the locker whilst trying to locate a pound coin to work the lock and hold onto a small child who was desperate to throw herself at the water even though her experience of it is limited.I spotted her dad and he came to the rescue so I managed to put our clothes away without dropping them in puddles.

Next up, the pool! Family swim sessions involve lots of floats and my daughter thought this was fab as did her father who tried to build a giant raft. A small area of the pool is divided from the main pool and the floor is 0.8 metres so Princess Boo could just about stand up in it. In this section I could securely rest on the bottom and hold her but in the main bit of the pool I had to stand to hold her which made it a little less relaxing. There are a few steps which lead into the main pool area but it's not really enough space for parents to sit and let their little ones walk up and down. Plus, the space feels a little cold. I was glad to be under the water.

So we had our swim fun and decided to try out the family change space. They have two very  big cubicles outside of the main changing rooms. These have a baby change and you can take in a push chair if needed . We went into the slightly smaller size which was a bit crowded for two adults and one small child who was still trying to open the door and revel naked mummy to the  people of Norwood. The biggest inconvenience of the family changing room was that they were very far away from the showers which are in the male or female changing room so one family member had to sacrifice shower time.

So overall, the facilities aren't bad. The pool looks out onto trees and lets in lovely light. And the space is generally clean and new. It's great for the area to have a pool. Check it out and let us know what you think!

West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre Information

West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre is located at 25 Devane Way, West Norwood, SE27 0DF

At the leisure centre, adults (non-members)  pay £4.20 per swim and babies pay £1.85. The centre can be contacted on 020 8761 1159.

The opening times of the pool are:

Monday - Friday       6:30 - 10:00pm
Saturday                    8:00 to 5:00pm
Sunday                       8:00 to 4:00pm

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: