Swimmers have to social distance as Cheltenham Lido re-opens after lockdown

Socially distanced swimming at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham Credit: ITV West Country

Cheltenham Lido has re-opened following the lockdown but with a very different look as staff have had to introduce socially-distanced swimming.

The art-deco outdoor pool - known as Sandford Parks Lido - has been closed throughout Covid-19. At 6:30am on Monday 20 July, 50 people queued for their first swim after the Government eased restrictions and the lido was able to bring in the new measures.

The would-be swimmers had to wash their hands and then get to grips with the new pool lay out. This involves wider lanes, swimming in circuits rather than up and down the same lane and staying well apart.

Caroline Knight was the first to take the plunge after the lido re-opened. Credit: ITV West Country

First into the water was Caroline Knight. She says, "It’s amazing I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite a while. I live right next door, so passing every day - especially the heatwave - has been really difficult. I’m so glad they chose to open and they’ve done such great work making everything really safe."

The swimmers are separated into wide lanes and have to swim in a circle rather than up and down to avoid getting too close during Covid-19. Credit: ITV West Country

It has so far been a disastrous season for the charitable trust that runs the pool. It had to remain closed right through the heatwave, when normally it would have been full.

Only 50 swimmers at a time are allowed in the pool, which is licensed to take 450.

Aerial shot of the lido, with only a fraction of the usual number of swimmers because of coronavirus safety measures. Credit: ITV West Country

At first the Lido is only admitting season ticket holders, but it will soon admit families, if they book online. Numbers will still be very restricted compared to previous years. 

Angus Bruce, the Chief Executive Officer of Sandford Parks Lido, says, "So this week is for season ticket holders. There’s only 50 in the pool at any one time and then starting from next week we’re going to introduce swimming for the public as well, perhaps introduced to some swimming sessions, because at the moment we only have six per day. From next week it will be eight, and then will gradually increase the numbers then our maximum will be 100 to 130 at the very maximum."

Cirencester Lido also opens today, but Portishead Lido is remaining closed for the season.