The Lido Ladies' story

The Lido Ladies, Charlton Lido

Tell us more about the Lido Ladies and how your swimming journey began...

Well, you're Jessica, I'm Nicola, we are the Lido ladies and we absolutely love swimming, and we support each other with our swimming - that means that not swimming every single day is not an option. 

I swam a great deal as a child and through my teenage years and in my 20s. Then I had sort of two decades off and then I got dragged back to the pool by Jessica here.

And I've swum throughout my life, whenever I've been troubled by something, I just head to a swimming pool.

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The Lido Ladies came about during lockdown because we couldn't swim, so we created our own lido fantasy world and posted the pictures to encourage other women of a certain age to get in the pool and start swimming.

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What do you enjoy the most about swimming?

I love the social side, I love meeting people, listening to their stories, understanding why they're motivated to swim in particular outdoors because it's not for everybody. It can be quite challenging, especially through the winter months. I love human contact but I also love the way that a big swim makes me feel. 

See Jessica is a head-up breaststroker so she gets to see everything that's going on around the pool. I swim freestyle and I like doing a two-kilometer swim, I love it and I love these 50-meter pools it's a completely different swimming experience.

What has coming back to Better has meant to you?

Coming back to better was just everything, it was just wonderful. I mean, the joy of walking through the doors and seeing that sparkling water, getting back into it and stretching out, I'd forgotten just how euphoric swimming made me feel.

To get back in the pool was just so wonderful. I felt brilliant. 

It’s a form of fitness that addresses every single muscle area of your body. When we finally did get back in the pool, after lockdown, it was a real struggle to swim again and it is fascinating how the human body is so hard to get fit and so easy to become unfit.

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What advice would you give someone starting their fitness journey?

It's about choosing something that you're going to enjoy, we obviously love swimming but that's not for everybody, so pick something that you think you'll like and get a buddy if you can. It makes such a difference to have someone who's actually going to keep turning up in the morning and saying, “come on, we can do this.” It's also important to be realistic and kind to yourself, if one morning you don't feel like doing it, don't punish yourself, get up the next day and then try it again. So yeah, embrace it, embrace yourself, and don't take it too seriously.

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What are the other benefits of swimming?

Swimming is about mental wellbeing as well as physical, it's a sort of meditation, and it transports you to a different place. Nobody can touch you in a swimming pool, you're completely in your own world, it's amazing. 

It's incredible, I can process all kinds of thoughts, I come out of the pool feeling like I've almost had therapy. 

Do you hope to encourage more women to swim?

Absolutely, because a lot of women get to a point in their life where they start to get body dysmorphia and they're not happy with where they look. So putting on a swimming costume and parading publicly is a very intimidating thing to do. We should be kinder to ourselves and think about how amazing our bodies are, embrace them and treat them to a swim. 

The swimming community is very embracing and very kind. It's a sport that welcomes people of all abilities, all shapes, and sizes, it's not a fashion industry. Everybody's in a collective mindset, everyone wants to do the same thing. 

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