Disabled swimmer Christina Efthimiou loses legal fight over prices at Hampstead Heath bathing pond

Friends of Christina Efthimiou outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London
Friends of Christina Efthimiou outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London earlier this year

A 60-year-old disabled swimmer has lost a High Court fight over ticket prices at a “unique” bathing pond in London.

Christina Efthimiou claimed that prices at Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond on Hampstead Heath “give rise to unlawful disability discrimination”.

She took legal action against the City of London, whose lawyers disputed her claim.

A judge ruled against her on Thursday.

Mr Justice Cotter had considered the argument at a High Court hearing in London earlier this year.

Ms Efthimiou had watched the hearing via video link but a number of her friends and fellow swimmers were in court – and posed outside for photographs in their swimsuits.

Supporters of Hampstead Ponds, some in swimming costumes, outside the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year

A barrister representing Ms Efthimiou, who lives in Camden, had told Mr Justice Cotter that the pond is a “unique space”.

Zoe Leventhal said it is the only natural bathing pond exclusively for women in Europe.

Ms Efthimiou, a member of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association, argued that a charging regime, which came into effect in April 2021, disproportionality and adversely affects people with disabilities.

Fellow members of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association backed her claim.

A barrister representing the City of London told the judge that Ms Efthimiou’s claim should be dismissed.

'Ticket prices are cheap'

Clive Sheldon QC said the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond is one of three bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath.

“Ticket prices are cheap, relative to the ponds’ operating costs,” he told the judge.

“Prices for disabled swimmers are even cheaper. All disabled swimmers receive a 40% discount.”

He said the standard price for a single swim was £4.05, while disabled swimmers pay £2.43.

Mr Sheldon added: “It cannot be right that service providers are required by law to charge lower prices to disabled persons, or to other groups with protected characteristics.”

Ms Efthimiou told the judge in a witness statement that swimming is the “best exercise available to her” and said “the ponds” have become something she relies on “mentally, emotionally and physically”.

She said the impact of regular access to the ponds on her disabilities is “huge” because she does not need to take “as much pain relief”.

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