I would never have found this without the excellent ‘Wild Swim’ book by Kate Rew. The small village of Billinghay would have just been another place I whizzed through on a long windy road to somewhere else, but because I know to look for it, I spot the small ‘Swimming Pool’ sign and turn down a residential street. I drive past houses and a school, then an open field on the right, then I get to a junction and I’m sure I’ve gone wrong. I ask for directions and am told it’s in the school!
I park up and the sign outside says they are full because they only have one lifeguard, but I’ve driven for a good forty minutes and I hope they’ll consider me not to be too much of a burden to a lifeguard, so I decide to try. And they let me in!
There’s a lovely mural showing a sandy beach and a cute hand drawn sign. There are pirate flags and a sandpit. And lots and lots of kids. I’m the only adult in the water. The others are all sat around chatting, reading and watching their kids. Their kids on floats and rubber rings, that make my lengths a bit more serpentine than linear. It sounds like I’m moaning, and it definitely does impact on how effective it is as a form of exercise, but it’s actually really nice. This is clearly their local pool and they come here every sunny weekend. It is what it says it is – a community.
It’s a pretty pool with two small slides, and the classic aqua blue pool liner, and the whole thing feels very sweet and friendly. I would never have come here – never have made the effort to seek it out – if it wasn’t for this SWIM100 challenge, and that’s what it’s all about; finding new places, new experiences and new types of swimming.