Charlton Lido reopens to swimmers after lockdown: What’s it like?

Charlton Lido July 2020
Charlton Lido at opening time on Sunday morning

Charlton Lido became one of the first outdoor pools in the country to reopen this weekend, after the government lifted some restrictions on exercise and recreational activities on Thursday. The centre’s operator, Better, have made some changes to accommodate new guidance on safe operation in the new, Covid-aware world – we went along for a dip to find out more.


The first important change is that you need to book online or via the Better app – no walk-ins at the moment. I made a booking very easily via the app using my membership but know that some others have had issues; anecdotally, the centre are resolving these quite quickly. Swim sessions are 50 minutes, with 10 minutes presumably for cleaning.

Swimmers enter through the reception in the usual way and exit post-swim from one of the poolside fire exits. The indoor changing rooms are out of action, but the toilets are available, along with the poolside cubicles, showers and lockers.

Swimming is adults-only at the moment, and the pool has been divided into five lanes, each going in an anti-clockwise direction. Under government guidance butterfly and backstroke aren’t allowed (presumably these are either too splashy or they bring increased risk of contact with other swimmers). The car park is now pay-by-mobile.

From my experience the new system was working well, and I was impressed by the staffs’ efforts in explaining the new processes to swimmers as they came into the centre and again poolside. It was emphasised that the centre is going through a learning process, and the above may change over time – as may government guidance. We’re told that ‘full service’ resumes on July 25 but they are hopeful of running some outdoor fitness activities including spin classes before then. In the meantime, we advise keeping an eye on the website for the latest opening hours.

Charlton Lido


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