Sunday, 31 August 2008

Wavelengths Leisure Centre; new 25m pool

What better opportunity to try out the new pool than a rainy Sunday morning? So the Dame got her cossie and goggles and skipped off down to Wavelengths in a mood of eager anticipation.

The new pool ticks many of the right boxes for me as a keen swimmer, but it has a few major drawbacks which I hope are either teething problems, or which may change upon pressure from regular swimmers.

Firstly, the pool itself is a lovely size - it seemed even bigger with just four of us in there shortly after 9am. It's light and airy, very clean and smart as you would expect with a new facility, and a pleasure to use. As with the leisure pool, the lockers and showers are poolside, with male and female toilets leading off the pool area, and separate male and female changing areas.

But it's very hard to find! Even when you know roughly where it should be! There is a total lack of signs from the reception area - I assume this is just because they seem to have reopened in a hurry and haven't quite finished off yet. The changing rooms have signs saying 'group changing area' on the doors, with a small male or female sign below, which is much more confusing than it sounds (If you think I sound like I'm defending a blonde moment here, let me reiterate that EVERYONE was confused, not just me! I thought this was reserved for schools or something.) Get rid of the euphemisms and bring back 'men' and 'women' for crying out loud.

So, when you pass through the entry gate, turn immediately left along the corridor with the hairdryers in it. This is the 'grooming area' (which I think sounds incredibly dated, maybe even slightly sinister!). The male changing area is the first door on the right, the female is the second. There are cubicles along one wall and benches and hooks along the other - this is great, although the benches are along the same wall as the door into the unisex grooming area, leaving you rather exposed when anyone goes in or out of the door.

After changing, take your clothes and bags through into the poolside, where you will find a row of lovely big lockers with bright yellow key bracelets. You will need 50p, which is refundable - hallelujah!

There are shower cubicles as well as communal showers, which is excellent news. I hate showering in my costume - not only does it seem rather ineffectual as a washing process, but the hot water and soap accelerates the rotting process that the chlorine has on your swimming costume, which can have expensive consequences for regular swimmers. So it's great to be able to shower in private, then rinse your costume in the wash basins.

The showers stay on for ages at a time - this is excellent when you are trying to get the soap out of your hair and don't want to have to keep finding the button with your eyes shut, but might prove expensive on hot water. It's also a bit annoying when you have finished showering and want to put your towel round you and get out, but have to wait for the water to stop.

The pool is divided into three wide lanes - slow, medium and fast. The notices saying which is which, and showing the direction you should swim, are at the far end of the pool; a handicap for anyone who normally wears glasses. But I'm glad they went for plain english on this occasion - the Arches leisure centre in Greenwich prefers to divide us into 'plodders', 'joggers', and 'sprinters' as well as a 'front crawl only' lane. I have always thought this must be totally incomprehensible to anyone for whom English is not their first language and probably explains why people frequently use the wrong lane.

The water temperature is perfect for fitness swimming - on the cold side, which means you don't overheat when you are swimming at full pelt. I had been worried it might be too warm, as the leisure pool always seems tropical to me, although I know this is aimed as children so needs to be warmer.

So the facilities, overall, are excellent.

But - and this is a MAJOR but - the opening hours are still the same!!

You might recall my previous pleas about making the weekday opening hours of the new pool more sensible. You can see from this post that someone from Parkwood Leisure even commented and assured me that the message was received 'loud and clear'. I filled in the consultation form, sent it back with my comments and explanations, and hoped that something might change.

So when I bowled up this morning to ask what time the pool would open in the week, and was told it would be 8am - the same as before - I was gobsmacked. The receptionist's comment that 'you wouldn't get the staff to come in any earlier' was even more depressing.

It seems I am not alone. I mentioned my disappointment to the other swimmers I met, and three out of four of them said that they had wanted earlier hours too. I can only assume this pool is intended mainly for school use, with a few hours at the weekend for us locals. What is the point of opening a fitness pool at 8am on a weekday? Most people are on their way to work at this time. By contrast, the fitness pool at the Arches opens at 7am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 6.30am on Tuesday and Thursday. I usually go for the early swim, that way I can swim, change, get home for breakfast and then get to work in town for 9am. Another swimmer I know at the Arches travels from Brockley for her swim - she would love to use the pool at Deptford but, like me, can't fit it into her schedule.

So come on, Parkwood Leisure; now you've given us a lovely pool to use, give us the opportunity to use it regularly!


Lewisham Wayward said...

Thanks for this, I shall be heading down to use the pool shortly! I'm happy to add my voice to yours calling for earlier opening hours - it's ridiculous to have to travel to Greenwich to fit in an early morning swim before work. There seems to be a general lack of recognition in Lewisham run facilities that working people need fitness activities that they can fit around work - it would be great if all their leisure centres became part of the London Fitness Network, then it wouldn't be such an either/or choice.

CarolineLD said...

Great news that it's open - but much as I hate getting up in the morning, I agree about the hours. It would be nice to go before work!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had gone to the pool when knit nurse had. I've just been and it was BOILING. Well, not exactly, but bath temperature. Was a bit too hot to swim properly. I've been told it's going to change, but if it doesn't, please put comments in to them so they can turn the temperature down as I have done.

I totally agree about the signs - very confusing. And it would be great to have the showers in the changing room so you don't have to walk the width of the pool in your towel.

Despite these grumbles, I'm really glad it's up and running and it's so lovely at the moment with very few people in. Apparently they're going to promote it when school starts, so get in now for a swim before it gets packed!

Gareth Potts said...

Hi Deptford Dame
Please contact me - I am running an event in Deptford next week on regeneration and would like to invite you (and talk to you about it).
Gareth 07792 817156

Barry Wire said...

According to the lifeguard it was 32 degrees in the pool on monday, when it should be around 27. The boiler was faulty apparently and the lifeguard said it was just one of many things not right yet. keep an eye out for the small red stickers which they have stuck anywhere that needs fixing, there are loads!

Deptford Dame said...

yes Barry, I noticed there was quite a lot of snagging to be done on the tiles in the changing areas!

Anonymous said...

I went for the first time yesterday and as a regular user of run-down baths at Ladywell and Kangley Bridge I've been impatient for the new pool in Loampit Vale to open. Decided to give Wavelenghts a try and was very pleased with the quality of pool and surroundings - clean, big lockers that give you your 50p back, and water temperature fine. Free hairdryers, working, in the 'grooming areas' - is thistoo good to be true?

Two complaints, one minor one serious:

There were indeed three lanes but when I arrived around 5.30pm one was in use for swimming lessons and another one was then used. Before the second lesson began properly the group of ten year old were splashing about and generally making the slow lane unusable for swimmers. I later found from the time table that these after-schol lessons are a daily feature. I wouldn't mind one lane out of use but there isn't enough room in just one lane for swimmers. Are ordinary swimmers being sidelined in favour of those who are paying for lessons? We already pay rates and shouldn't be ignored when it comes to using facilities.

The showers look good, but I'd just got myself soaped up when the water suddenly stopped altogether and didn't come back on again! I had to use the washbasins in the toilets area to get the shampoo out of my hair. The guys at the fron desk were really noce but one of them said he'd been trying to fix the showers but it was all run by computers that were over-riding his efforts.

Some glitch!

Two complaint

Swimmer said...

Any pictures of the pool?


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