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LIDOS


The baths, here empty, are not listed, unlike the lido buildings, which are currently used by a sailing club


Like other lidos, the pool suffers from the vagaries of the British


weather: on a good day visitor numbers can reach three or four hundred. But on a bad day, it’s 20 or fewer. McCarthy has a small advertising budget but has invested much of his own time in finding free ways of promoting the pool, such as speaking on local radio and offering deals on Groupon. He's also been working on various revenue generating projects, such as renting half of the pool to a sea kayaking company. But McCarthy says that he needs more time – five years, say – to develop a long- term model for survival. The pool does at least have friends in the right places. Lymington’s mayor, Jaqueline England, is a founder member of the ‘Friends of Lymington Sea Water Baths’ campaign group and former chair of the pool sub-commitee. England says that the sub- commitee has been tight-lipped about its plans, and laments that “no one has really championed the pool for thirty-five years”. It seems undeniable that a lack of communication is exacerbating the uncertainty at Lymington, but elsewhere there are some encouraging examples of co-operative approaches. Swimmers at Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall were initially shocked by the local council’s abrupt announcement that funding would be withdrawn.


72


NO ONE ON THE COUNCIL HAS CHAMPIONED THE POOL FOR 35 YEARS


However, a local campaign ensured supporters were given an additional year to organise alternative arrangements, and the pool now has just completed its first season under the management of a community trust.


Requiring a huge commitment from supporters, such an option is not easy, but in Bude at least, it has allowed the pool to stay open in difficult circumstances. With an open and honest discussion, perhaps a solution could also be found at Lymington. ○


Jonathan Knot is a freelance journalist and news writer for the Outdoor Swimming Society. He has writen on lidos for a number of publications, including the Guardian and the London Evening Standard. His local lido is London Fields. As well as swimming, he writes about politics and travel and is the author of the travel guide skiathostruth.com


Photo © Paul Appleyard


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