A swim under the sun

<strong>BROCKWELL LIDO</strong><br />BROCKWELL PARK, SE24 0PA, TEL: 020 72743088, WWW.BROCKWELL-LIDO.COM<br /><strong>THE POOL:</strong> A south London gem, this pre-war, charity-funded lido is a Grade II listed Art Deco structure, which has been thoroughly updated. The ambitious facilities are divided into Health, Vitality and Wellbeing sections, and there are swanky workout machines if you want to augment your swimming work.<br /><br /><strong>BEST FOR:</strong> Families and fitness all-rounders. The pool offers a spacious splash in one of London&rsquo;s best-kept outdoor pools as well as state of the art lockers and changing rooms. The Hydrotherapy Suite and gym will occupy anyone who doesn&rsquo;t fancy a swim &ndash; or why not take a yoga class to relax the limbs before doing a few brisk lengths. <br /><br /><strong>OASIS, COVENT GARDEN<br /></strong>32 ENDELL STREET, WC2H 9AG, TEL: 020 7831 1804, WWW.GLL.ORG<strong><br />THE POOL:</strong>Oasis&rsquo;s outdoor pool &ndash; part of a Camden borough leisure centre &ndash; is a 25 metre outdoor lido, surrounded by residential buildings and terraces, giving it the feeling of a gritty urban enclave. The water isn&rsquo;t known to be the cleanest, nor the changing rooms the nicest, but the chance to swim outdoors in Covent Garden is not to be sniffed at. In the summer it&rsquo;s a hive of activity, and a great place for soaking up a slice of life.<strong><br /><br />BEST FOR:</strong> Kids and slow swimmers. There is lane swimming but in Camden&rsquo;s pools it can be a frustrating experience. There are also regular &ldquo;splash sessions&rdquo; &ndash; again, this is kid territory. Go early in the morning, though, and you&rsquo;ll have the best chance of powering through. <br /><br /><strong>TOOTING BEC LIDO<br /></strong>STREATHAM PARK, SW16 1RU, TEL: 020 8871 7198, WWW.WANDSWORTH.GOV.UK<strong><br />THE POOL:</strong>Opened to the public in 1906, it&rsquo;s the grand dame of London&rsquo;s outdoor pools. It&rsquo;s the largest fresh water pool in the UK, at 91 metres long and 30 meters wide. Surrounded by trees and birdsong, it is also known for its bright poolside changing rooms which can be seen in Brad Pitt&rsquo;s pool scene in the film Snatch.<strong><br /><br />BEST FOR:</strong> Hardcore swimmers. Because of the pool&rsquo;s extraordinary length, regular fitness freaks and Olympians alike can train to their hearts&rsquo; content, but it has family charm too. <br /><br /><strong>POOLS ON THE PARK, RICHMOND<br /></strong>TWICKENHAM ROAD, TW9 2SF, TEL: 020 8940 0561 WWW.SPRINGHEALTH.NET<strong><br />THE POOL: </strong>Main pools indoors and outdoors, plus a kids&rsquo; pool. The upgraded outdoor l960s lido is one of London&rsquo;s most charming. There&rsquo;s serious lane swimming here too, and another perk is that it stays open till 8pm.<strong><br /><br />BEST FOR:</strong> Everyone, and not just locals, as the pools are minutes away from Richmond rail station. <br /><br /><strong>SERPENTINE LIDO<br /></strong>HYDE PARK, W2 2UH, TEL: 020 7706 3422, WWW.ROYALPARKS.ORG.UK<strong><br />THE POOL:</strong> The only lido in a central London Royal Park, this is naturally one of the city&rsquo;s handsomest places to go for a swim. It&rsquo;s also a favourite for diehard Christmas Day swimmers who gather ever year to thrash through the icy water to the cheers of onlookers. But in the summer it&rsquo;s a paradisal place to spend the day, surrounded by cafe tables and the lush green of the park. The new Serpentine Bar and Grill makes for an ideal post-swim dinner.<strong><br /><br />BEST FOR:</strong> Kids and families: there&rsquo;s a child-safe paddle pool and a playground for the young ones, as well as reclining chairs for sunbathing adults. Modern changing rooms make it an all-round joy. <br /><br /><strong>HAMPSTEAD HEATH PONDS AND LIDO<br /></strong>PARLIAMENT HILL FIELDS, NW5 1LP, TEL: 020 7332 3773, WWW.CITYOFLONDON.GOV.UK<strong><br />THE POOL:</strong> Parliament Hill, the wild and wonderful Heath&rsquo;s most scenic viewpoint, gives way to a host of outdoor swimming options. The three ponds (men, women and mixed) sit among trees and dense parkland, and seem as naturalistic as anything in the UK, let alone London. The pond water is a bit murky and the banks can be hectic with hyperactive teenagers, but the nearby lido is a more civilised affair, another Art Deco Grade II listed pool with a state of the art filtration system and stainless steel lining.<strong><br /><br />BEST FOR:</strong> Ruddy, nature-loving types who want to cool off, particularly the dedicated types who take year-round dips in the ponds. The Lido is an invigorating place to do lengths and beloved by locals.