Hanging out together is ‘social nourishment’

Every now and again an intrepid group of #swimandtonic swimmers and non swimmers set out on little adventures, seeking new places to swim/eat cake/ exchange tales/ make friendships. For a fix of social nourishment.

It has not always been smooth sailing. Our first attempt to swim at London Fields Lido was foiled when the day before our departure we discovered that they had actually closed for refurbishment!

A swift change of plan saw us setting out the next morning with a spring in our step and a plan to embrace our Olympic prowess with a swim at the London Aquatic Centre. There was something very special about this place, perhaps the fact that we were sharing a space once occupied by Olympians but maybe also because it was probably one of the best indoor pools we’d ever been to. After the swim we explored the Olympic Village, We shared food and drank Pimms in a roof top bar before heading home happy.


The Majestic London Aquatic Centre

Our first attempt to swim at Hinksey Lido was a resounding success although we battled an angry rain storm and bumper to bumper traffic on the way there.

It wasn’t quite the sun drenched summer swim we’d imagined but that really didn’t matter. We were playful and delighted in putting on an aquatic circus-esque performance of handstands, gamboles, swirling, twirling and laughter. Much laughter.  Little or no serious swimming and no lane ropes, just the freedom to roam and play.  A pub lunch and a stroll around Oxford and we drove home. The in car conversations meant we missed our turning, extending our journey by another 30 minutes. It didn’t matter, we talked some more and pondered whether any of our trips would happen without any hiccups. Hmmm.


Some months later we heard that London Fields Lido had reopened.

Surely nothing could stop us from getting there this time?  Erm … even the Beast from the East? We were determined, the weather was not going to stop play.  We swam in the heated pool with the Beast swirling all around us and the odd flurry of snowfall teasing our all ready heightened emotions. The happy chemicals were released in us all that day, it was a truly wonderful experience.  The non swimmers braved it all too. They were our look outs, our photographers, our support crew. The post swim refuel happened in a Turkish restaurant just around the corner from the pool – ‘fourteen for lunch please,’ I don’t think they knew what had hit them!  And before we set off home, we had a stroll around Broadway Market, huddling together as we walked along in a happy haze of newly developing friendships and conversations.

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Our most recent attempt also failed to go to plan. A return trip to Hinksey Lido, surely nothing could go wrong this time? It did. But it didn’t matter, our resilience had been built and we embraced the challenge of changing our plans yet again.

Seven swimmers set off on a tiny one carriage train from Coventry to Kenilworth. A delightful journey and incredibly short, just 7 mins and we arrived at Kenilworth’s brand spanking new station. The short-ish walk to the outdoor pool saw us passing the small bakery  with a big reputation and the sign told us that the Rocks were in town. So we bought some. Thirty minutes later, the rock cakes had been devoured and we were changed and ready to get in, the pool was calm and empty. The bearded lifeguard advised us that the temperature was a mere 15 degrees, we smiled. Rishard jumped at the chance of delivering an aqua fit warm up and before we knew it we were following his lead. Lunging to the left and then to the right, punching the air, swirling one way then the other. The bearded bloke’s expression told us that he had never quite seen anything like this before. We then organised into relay teams. Go! Running in water isn’t easy but we laughed our way through it. To keep the peace we declared the result a draw appreciating the activity for the fun it had given us.  We were delighted that Vandana, who has always been the ‘tonic’ (once reported as saying she’d never get in the water) joined us in the pool and had some coaching from the crew. We sat in the park and ate lunch together, sang happy birthday to Ben and Vandana and then caught the tiny train back home.

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I can’t take the credit for the phrase social nourishment but I love it.  I found it whilst reading this article: The friend effect: why the secret of health and happiness is surprisingly simple

I smiled as I read it, I think it’s what we have all experienced through our #swimandtonic adventures.  Eating together, swimming together, being together.


Mel  – July 2018

Sales of our #swimandtonic swim hats add social value and were designed by the lovely Melissa.  The profit earned helps us to support folks being able to access these opportunities whether contributing to train fares or entrance fees. It’s also delightful to see them being worn, thanks to all those who have purchased one. You can find them pinned to the top of our FB page:

#swimandtonic – In 2016 the first measure of swim & tonic was poured. We’re a movement of people who want to connect through swimming in the pool, lake or wild. This Facebook group was set up and the community began to grow: swimmers swimming in pools, lidos, quarries, lakes, rivers and seas whilst equal provision is also made for those who don’t swim; the ‘Tonic’ in the form of socialising around water and eating cake. There is no pressure to get in the water. We are mostly Midlands based but our sense of adventure sees us venturing further afield seeking special swim spots and adventures.



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