Health · Home life · Notes from West London

The £307 Swim

Loose threads, dead ends, unfinished stories. Welcome to my world, or more specifically welcome to the world of items on this Blog that need updating. The one that comes to mind right now is here (“Summer bodies are made in spring”). It recorded my first six weeks’ worth of trips to a local swimming pool, starting in March 2019, detailing how many lengths I swam each time.

I continued to record my progress in a spreadsheet right up to February 2020 (nearly a year’s worth of swims) but did not update that Blog post, and it doesn’t seem worth updating it now. The 29 rows of information that it contains, from 2019, can stand as a snapshot, a record of how frequently I used to go swimming.

The monthly cost for the local public pool was around a quarter of what I had previously paid to a private gym. By swimming regularly, the cost per swim was around £2, way less than it would cost for “pay-as-you-go” (over £5 per visit). By late February 2020, with Covid in the air, we were already wary of crowded places. I did not use the pool at all during March. Before the end of that month, as part of nationwide lockdown restrictions, all swimming pools and gyms were closed. I didn’t have to cancel my direct debit: the local authority automatically stopped taking my monthly payments.

And then, sometime in 2021, the gyms and pools reopened, and the local authority started taking my monthly membership payments again. I did not return to the pool. The only time I went swimming in 2021 was in the River Thames, as recorded here. If my monthly payments were going to a private gym I might have got my act together to cancel them, but it felt worthwhile supporting a publicly funded resource even though I wasn’t using it. And now, somehow, we are over seven months into 2022 and until this week I still hadn’t returned to our local pool.

Since the school holidays began, my daughter has been keen to try swimming again. She had not been to a pool since 2019 (though she has swum in the sea, and in the Thames, in the last couple of years). Yesterday I took her and my son for a lunch-time swim: £2.10 for her (she’s 15) and £4.90 for him (he’s 17). It was fun. We had to use the Medium Lane (the unrestricted area was full) and were able to try all our different strokes, up and down, for around an hour (about 30 lengths for me, with frequent breaks).

Since February 2020 I have paid something like £300 in membership fees, and this was my first use of the facilities in all that time: this made it a £307 swim. Next time we go it’ll be down to around £150 per visit, and after that a little over £100 each time. Perhaps these calculations will motivate me to go as frequently as I did in 2019, and get my cost-per-swim down to something more reasonable. If so, I might even tell you about it, but it will probably end up as another dead end, loose thread, unfinished story.

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