When my mother was a girl, she used to swim regularly in the Thames at Chiswick. In those days the water was much cleaner than it is today, but swimming in the Thames may be making a comeback. On Saturday 30th of August, the Great Swim takes place, with options for a mile or half a mile for the less confident. This is the second year of this event, which looks like becoming an annual feature
“Overlooked by the impressive Canary Wharf, the Great London Swim is your opportunity to join thousands of like-minded adventurous swimmers and take a dip in the heart of the capital’s docklands.”
Earlier in the year, the Mayor of London provided funding towards a feasibility study into whether a lido in the Thames was feasible. This would link with the improvements in water quality which will result from the new Super Sewer being constructed from 2018. Architects Studio Octopi originally proposed a lido at Blackfriars; this has now been developed into Temple Baths which perhaps could link with the proposed Garden Bridge.
Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands also published proposals for a new Lido at the South Bank which would be covered to enable it to open all year with a glass roof and walls that can be slid open in good weather. “The Thames is an incredibly underused resource and our idea was to tap into some of this potential to provide a public pool freed from the constraint of land use in Central London. The swimming use is particularly appropriate to the river – with the pool rising and falling with the tide giving swimmers a spectacular and changing view of the city,” said Alex Lifschutz.
Other cities such as Copenhagen and Berlin have successful river lidos. It would be good for Londoners to benefit from one; given our increasing enjoyment of the River Thames; given our weather it does however need to come with some basic supporting facilities for example to change and dry off, which seem to be missing in the images of the latest proposal.