Outdoor swimming pool in Banbury set to open early for 'chilly water swimming'

An outdoor swimming pool at a Banbury leisure centre will open early this year for 'chilly water swimming'.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:00 pm
The outdoor swimming pool at Banbury's Woodgreen Leisure centre will open early this year for 'chilly water swimming.' (photo from the Woodgreen Leisure Centre Facebook page)

The decision comes as a result of a petition launched to get the opening hours extended at the town's outdoor swimming pool, located at Woodgreen Leisure Centre.

The outdoor swimming pool will now open on Monday March 29.

Woodgreen Leisure Centre recently posted the announcement on its Facebook page, which said: "We are so pleased to announce we will be opening our outdoor 50m swimming pool early this year for chilly water swimming."

Here's what you need to know about the early opening of the town's outdoor pool.

The water temperature of the pool will be 16C, and the wearing of wetsuits is optional for customers.

The 55 minute swimming slots must be booked in advance online via the LeisureCentre App or Woodgreen Leisure Centre website. Bookings can be made up to seven days in advance. Payment is required on booking.

Costs are £4.40 per adult and £2.85 per junior. Capacity will be limited to promote social distancing.

To comply with social distancing guidelines, all sessions will be lane swimming only. All customers must be able to competently swim 50m unaided according to the directional signs.

A one-way system will be in operation around the facilities, with a designated entrance and exit.

Customers will be required to arrive for their session swim ready. Toilets, showers and changing facilities will be available via the way out only.

In the event of thunder and lightening, the pool will have to close. Bookings made during this time are non-refundable or transferable.

The opening times for the outdoor swimming pool will be 7:30am - 9:30am, 11:30am - 2pm, 4 - 6pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 - 11am on Saturday. Times are expanded to expand in May.

More than 300 people signed a petition organised by Banbury resident Zsofia Buda for the extension of the opening hours of the pool. The main goal of the petition was for the outdoor swimming pool to open earlier in the year, and close later in the year. The petition asked for the pool to open in April through to the end of October. The outdoor pool is typically open approximately four months per year (late May to mid-September).

Organisers of the petition hope people will now turn out to use the outdoor pool now that it will be opening earlier than usual.

Zsofia said: "I organised a petition asking for extended opening hours at the Banbury Outdoor Pool because it is of local and regional interest.

"The extended opening hours this year will be only a trial. The council wishes to assess the demand for the pool. So if we want this arrangement to be permanent, we need to get as many people to use the pool as possible."

The petition submitted to the council included a variety of reasons in support of the change in opening hours.

The petition said use of an outdoor pool has particular relevance during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the support for the changes in the petition said: "The danger of spreading the virus Covid-19 outdoors is much less than indoors, and therefore an outdoor pool gives the opportunity to swim to many people who would not feel comfortable to go to an indoor pool. This outdoor pool gives the opportunity to people to exercise in the fresh air.

"In the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in open water swimming.[2] When the Banbury outdoor pool is closed, many people make the journey to the rivers in Stratford and Oxford to swim but this is not a solution for everybody, and swimming in a river can prove dangerous at times (for instance during flooding).

"The pool is an important centre for communal activities. In September, some swimming lessons were moved from Spiceball Leisure Centre to Woodgreen Leisure Centre, because there wasn't room at the indoor pool for all the lessons while preserving social distancing. Apart from a safer environment, an additional advantage of this change was that the children could hear the instructor clearer without the background noise of an indoor pool. The proposed extension in opening times would result in the pool being available for swimming lessons for a larger proportion of the school year."

"Swimming has great health benefits both physical and mental. It builds endurance and muscle strength, gives cardiovascular fitness; it helps to maintain a healthy weight; and it provides an all-over workout.

"It is especially important for people who cannot do other exercises due to certain health conditions or injuries. Swimming also has an important role in tackling obesity. Apart from these physical health benefits, swimming alleviates stress and helps fighting depression and dementia."