UPDATE: As of Tues 18th May, the kickstarter was a SUCCESS! Feel Actual Emotion for all the people who've worked so hard to make this happen. Congratulations, you lot! Really look forward to swimming in Thames Baths.
I've spent some considerable time swimming round London. I've swum in more of the city's pools than most. And as is abundantly clear, my true love is swimming outdoors. I love what it does, I love having air on my skin, I love how every day is different, I love it in the rain and sun. There is something elemental about it that we are essentially cut off from in most parts of our lives. In London particularly, we are heated and cooled and bustled and jostled around, all our experiences tightly controlled, our access to nature doled out in tiny plantpot-sized portions. Swimming outdoors is a great antidote to all of that.
I also (mostly) love this city, particularly the public bits of it. As everything round us gets corporatised and privatised and reserved and oligarched, the public stuff we do have gets increasingly important. I look at that proposed new bridge and I despair. This is not for 'us'. This is not about community. And I think how ironic, that something that crosses a river will actually be so divisive. Never have the words 'judicial review' gladdened me so much.
But here's something. Something for all of us. All the swimming community (and what a community we are) and beyond. Thames Baths is the project that hopes to put a lido in the Thames. A year-round, 'gently-warmed' public amenity, in the Thames. Amazing thought, eh? I think so. It will be safe, sustainable, and at £10million, around a 20th of the cost of that wretched bridge.
Thames Baths - who incidentally are not some faceless conglomerate, they're three Londoners, you can see them on the link - are launching a crowdfunder to raise £125k to get to the next stage of development. It looks like a big chunk of ££. Hey, it IS a big chunk, there's no getting round that. But this isn't ££ that is going on some CEO jolly with celebrities (shorthand for 'I met Joanna Lumley* and she entranced me with her twinkly eyes'). This isn't ££ that will be spent 'attracting overseas investment' (shorthand for 'sold off to companies who put their tax offshore'). This is carefully controlled and budgeted to bring the project to the next stage, to make it ACTUALLY HAPPEN!
If you have the wherewithal to contribute at any level, please please do. If you know rich folk who care about the future of swimming, or frankly hate it but just ooze philanthropy - please shove this under their noses. This isn't a selfish, roped-off, benefits-just-for-MEEEEE project, this is for all swimmers. And we are multitude! We want to swim the future! LET'S DO THIS THING!
I've never done so many !! in my life. It's because I really care about this project. I want to swim the fu ... yeah. you got that already. But thanks for reading. Do share it around. All the kickstarter info and some great pics are here: Thames Baths.
*No disrespect to Joanna Lumley. I'm sure she's fabulous. It's just ... weird, innit? However, if she'd throw her obviously considerable charms behind a lido not a bridge, I'd probably feel differently.
* Oh and other celebrities are available. Always.