I love swimming, but the pool at the Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich, is close to my idea of hell – it’s noisy, a bit rundown and, most importantly, it’s not really a swimming pool (although there is a bit that allows for lane swimming).
It’s a ‘leisure pool’. We went because I thought my toddler would like it.
I miscalculated – she absolutely loved it. And seeing her excitement and delight kind of got me over my own instinctive dislike of the whole experience.
So – yes – we’ll be going again soon (or more likely trying the one in Leytonstone to see how it compares).
I’ll admit to being totally spoilt. I’ve got used to the changing rooms at the London Aquatics Centre and the ones at the Waterfront don’t compare. But, you know, they were clean enough. We had a cubicle and a locker without problem, then headed out to the leisure pool. Or rather pools.
There are several different pools. The first gets gradually deeper, and I hadn’t anticipated how exciting it would be for my toddler to be able to run about freely (with me hovering in case she tripped over and fell face first into the water).
There were three pools that she could run about in, without it getting too deep for her and she’s never had that experience of freedom in the water before. I’m normally holding her in the pool (she’s not keen on floats and neither am I). And the trips we have had to the seaside have been entirely different, because there’s so much else going on – waves, seaweed, sand underfoot etc.
This pretty much kept her happy for an hour or more. We had a little sponge ball to play with and she enjoyed trying out the various pools – she had a quick sit in the jacuzzi-style one any time she got cold to warm up.
There’s one enormous tube slide (‘the viper slide’) that goes outside the building. It’s not for two-year-olds although she wanted a go, but it provided her with an enormous amount of entertainment to see Daddy come down it (I doubt she’ll ever see Mummy do the same!). There are also some shorter slides for three-year-olds and over, but no good for her. She had one go on a little slide into a pool but you really need floats – if you don’t fancy a quick dunking underwater (it’s not deep, but the momentum of the slide means a toddler gets a good soaking).
Looking around, there weren’t actually many toddlers in the pool. You only have to be slightly older to get a lot more out of it (and actually be able to use the slides for example), but my little one was really keen to have another go. Better still, it did tire her out and bedtime all happened a lot more smoothly this evening…
Where? Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich High St, London SE18 6DL
How much? The price for two adults and two children is £16.55 (May 2016). The full price list is here, but it’s more expensive than a regular swim in Tower Hamlets!
Facilities and access Woolwich Arsenal is the closest DLR/train station. If you’re travelling by car, there’s plenty of parking (although you have to pay). Changing rooms are pretty basic. Access is step-free though.