Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Glass Mill leisure centre Lewisham - swimming review

Today was the second day that the new Glass Mill leisure centre on Loampit Vale in Lewisham has been open, and I went down this morning before work to have a swim. I was later than intended, so only got to do a few laps, but thought I'd write up on my experiences for others intending to head down.

Firstly, the changing rooms. They're very big, with lots of locker space, and I can't imagine there being a time when there isn't enough space for everyone, even in busy periods. Taking my shoes off presented a pleasant surprise, as I placed my feet down expecting a freezing floor, only to discover - the floor is heated. Very nice! And everything felt very clean, as you'd expect of a new facility. Some have complained about other centres managed by Fusion, so hopefully Glass Mill will keep up their early good standards.

There are about six showers in the men's changing room, including one for disabled access, and all of them have lockable cubicle doors. The only hooks are inside the cubicles, which means you either have to leave your towel in your locker, and drip your way back to it afterwards, or bring it into the shower with you. The water in the showers is nice and hot, perhaps even slightly too hot - after a tiring swim I would have quite liked the option to stand under a cool stream. The changing rooms themselves are pleasantly warm, though obviously this is June!

The lockers. Big, and plenty of them, with a £1 deposit returned at the end. Annoyingly though, they have the same horrible wristbands for the keys as the pool at Wavelengths. They're like plastic watch straps, and with the key attached are rather big and bulky, and quite difficult to get on without nicking the skin on your wrists. I actually struggled getting mine on at all, as they're clearly new and rather stiff!

The pool itself wasn't particularly crowded, I'd estimate there were about 15-20 people in the main pool. As an aside, I appeared to be the only man in the early morning lanes session to have opted for tight trunks rather than baggy shorts. Much more comfortable, and far less drag in the water, I find.

The lane swimming was organised differently to any other lane swimming I've been to. As expected, you swim clockwise or anti-clockwise in alternate lanes, but I've never been in a situation where all eight lanes are divided - in my experience it's normal to only use every other lane divider, making four 'big' lanes in effect, which people can use to swim clockwise or anti-clockwise as instructed. People were following the instructions this morning, for the most part, but there was a bit elbow knocking as you struggle to pass fellow swimmers in the narrow lanes. I eventually managed to get a lane to myself, but most won't be that lucky. There also didn't seem to be any differentiation between slow and fast lanes, which could potentially cause issues.

One development I did like was the huge clock on one of the longer walls of the building - this means that I can see what time it is from the pool without having to walk right up to it or bring my glasses in. A lifeline to a blind-as-a-bat late-riser like me, as I can calculate to the minute exactly how long I have until I need to run for my train.

The water in the pool wasn't breath-catchingly cold, and might be too warm for some. I found it pleasant, but anyone who uses swimming as a hard work-out might find themselves sweating after their session - and speaking of which, I couldn't find a water-fountain anywhere in the building. Bring a bottle! (edit: there's a water-fountain up in the gym.)

I enjoyed swimming at Glass Mill, and will be back. It's a good pool, and not too busy (yet!) - there was plenty of room to swim freely, even with people of different abilities in the pool. The changing rooms are also a good size, with plenty of locker space. I imagine it'll get crowded in the pool at busy times as popularity grows, particularly at weekends, and it remains to be seen how well the space copes with potential demand.

I'll be at the gym later this week.