Women only


Arriving at the London Fields Lido this evening I felt a secret air of delight knowing that it was a women’s only session and after a friend told me how nice and relaxed it was last week I treated myself to a lie in and headed there after work. Tell tale signs of men still at the pool lingered around in the bike lot. There were a distinct lack of omafiets, far too many single speeds that could be lifted with my little finger and there were some bearded persons locking up their bikes. Upon inspecting the timetable I realised that actually the women’s only session didn’t start until 7pm. The joy of finishing work whilst still light meant I was at the pool by 6.30pm.

Today being over 20 degrees, the pool was rammed. As I walked past the deep end I received a shower as two guys belly flopped into the pool. They were larking in the dossing lane and being a ‘slow’ swimmer I have to put up with flapping, splashing, fondling and stray kicks of the dossers on a regular basis. At least there was a designated lane for them.

I noticed that the five life guards were all men, looking slightly more sprightly than usual. I think they’d secretly like someone to almost drown just to liven up their day but hey it’s Tuesday night, women only, surely the shift they all fight for.

I started doing some lengths and immediately got annoyed with guys not even swimming but doing the weirdest of random strokes. I call these random strokes butter-crawl, the breast-scissor-kick and the front-stroke. Guys in the slow lane usually always make a point of pelting past you by doing the front crawl and kick you in the face whilst cutting in or they just swim a random stroke, maybe mixing it up 25 metres in so that as you try to over take them you can’t and they suddenly switch to a speedier random stroke.

I sort of respect the guys who don’t wear goggles more, the ones that swim like your mum with their head above the water but again get annoyed at the fact that they’re not swimming ‘properly’ and to me it can’t be doing anything for your neck. Surely it’s equivalent to sleeping on three pillows – not a natural sleeping position. Saying this I can’t assume that all guys are having a sneaky peek; the majority of guys do go there to swim, the speedos give it away.

My mental countdown was going, just seven more minutes you bastards and you’re out.

With just three minutes to go music starts booming out of a ghetto-blaster from the side of the pool and I see a woman with those colour worm floaters in her arms waving them about.

Girls start arriving in their droves sporting not black or navy speedo swimsuits but skimpy coloured string bikinis featuring stripes, flowers, spots and all sorts of other patterns, and with their faces still caked in the days make-up.

I vaguely hear some sort of announcement, see some guys get out of the pool while other squeeze in a couple more lengths. The lifeguards are on their feet pointing at the stray man in the pool. He’s right in front of me doing one of the above mentioned annoying non-strokes.

Next thing I know the lanes switch and I’m ushered into the dossers lane. Someone is screaming at the side of the pool, ‘Pump those legs girls, and three, and four, and five, you’re doing great’. The girls in my lane start giggling, slow down considerable and start swimming like your mum with their head cocked to one side to see what all the commotion is about. OK, we can all see that it’s an aquarobic class not a car crash. I am useless at treading water so me slowing down to first gear will mean that the bodyguards might actually have to do some work. The girls are all bemused. Some stop swimming mid lane and join in with the class (in the dossers but now slow lane). I feel like the lane has turned into some sort of Crystal Maze obstacle course only I can’t see the crystal as there are a row of girls gassing at the end of the pool.

Girls who don’t usually go swimming are all in the pool just like fair weather bike riders. They don’t have a clue about lanes or etiquette or how fast or slow to go. Nans who can barely stay afloat only do so because of their massive boobs. They keep stopping mid stroke like they’ve forgotten to turn the oven off. Other mates are all swimming side by side, chatting as they do the mums breast stroke.

London Fields Lido officially turned into Sex in the City but in a pool. The whole place squealing with delight, except for me.

I see some guys try to get into the pool only to be told that it was a women only session. Surely they could hear the babble from the bike lot but maybe they thought that they were in luck. I felt really sorry for them as they had to get redressed with a sad face though probably not so sad as they peered on at 100 scantily clad women. I figured that actually the whole women only thing is completely sexist. Men only sessions don’t exist. How the hell would women respond if they did? Come back men, it was so much better before and more peaceful when you were allowed in.

I finally swim a kilometre and get the hell out of there, slightly annoyed as I had time to swim another half a km but I was getting too annoyed with the girls.

The bike lot is full of omafiets complete with baskets, not one single speed is in sight.

I can safely say that I will never be going back to the women only session on a Tuesday night at London Fields Lido every again.

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