Wednesday, 28 December 2016

swimming exploits in Scotland & London; keeping fit, action research, testing the water

After my health scare summer of 2015 when I had reached the end of my tether, no justice after the psychiatric abuse Feb12 and many years of being excluded for speaking out with a survivor voice, I got back to swimming.  And joined Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, when I still had a car, visiting a number of their swimming pools.  It wasn't a positive experience on the whole, at times very negative, so I began to try out other pools in different Scottish areas and in London Nov15 and Jul16 when down there.  Action research, mystery shopper sort of a thing, testing out the waters.

The pools I swam at in Fife, from September to December 2015 were in: Cupar, St Andrews, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Burntisland; Bowhill was closed at the time and I didn't get to Cowdenbeath or Levenmouth pools although I'd used them back in the 1990's when a student at Fife College, found them OK for leisure swimming not for doing lengths.  

Cupar was closest but had slippy old tiled flooring and psychiatric nurses from Stratheden using the facilities, one of whom had assaulted my son 1Feb12.  St Andrews East Sands leisure centre changing rooms were in need of refurbishment, broken lockers and hairdryers, pool didn't have enough room for proper length swimming.  Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes were new pools funded by Sport Scotland.

The Kirkcaldy pool I found to be risky, safety wise, and males swimming aggressively.  There weren't enough lifeguards on duty one Saturday, electric sockets at toddler height near hairdryer tables with no safety plugs, mixed gender changing rooms unsupervised, teenagers running wild.  I reported my concerns at the time to NE Fife MSP Roderick Campbell who acted on my behalf, writing to the Fife Trust. Glenrothes pool seemed to have been taken over by swimming clubs, especially at weekends and through the week public swimming wasn't always available.  On speaking to local folk they didn't seem happy about this.

at Burntisland Beacon Centre Dec15

I enjoyed swimming at the Burntisland and Dunfermline Carnegie centre pools.  The former had helpful staff, nice views out large windows surrounding the pool, the latter also had friendly staff, many different facilities on offer.  But both centres were difficult to access by public transport from where I live.  A bus then two trains or two buses and a distance to walk.  In addition there weren't fitness options available to suit.

at Tollcross pool Glasgow Dec15
By December 2015 I had ceased using the Fife leisure centres and started travelling to the Olympia in Dundee, getting an over-60's offer, just £15/month, including free swim and some classes Mon-Frid daytime, free gym anytime including weekends.  At the same time I tried out other pools when visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, to see what they were like, compared to the Fife swimming experience.  I'd often swam in Perth Leisure Centre pool, Glasgow Rd, 2000-2 when working with PKAVS at the Gateway, NMethven Street, and did fitness at the Rodney Centre, Bridgend.  It was still a positive swimming experience.


London Olympic pool Nov15
In Glasgow Dec15 I swam in the Commonwealth pool at Tolcross International Swimming Centre and the Whitehill pool at Dennistoun.  Both had very helpful staff although the Tolcross pool had much newer facilities, larger pool geared towards length swimming.  In Edinburgh I visited the Leith Victoria with changing rooms around the side of the pool in a lovely setting, the Portobello Swim Centre which also had a Victorian pool, and the Royal Commonwealth Pool.  Again very helpful staff and a pleasant experience.

after swim London Fields Lido Jul16
I was in London November 2015 for the Carers UK Summit and visited the Olympic pool at Stratford, deep water, large changing areas, helpful fellow swimmers and staff.  Similar positive experiences in July this year when in London and swimming at the London Fields Lido outdoor pool and the Kensington Leisure Centre pool, only about a year old.  Had no complaints about the way I was
at Kensington pool London Nov16
treated at these facilities.  Didn't see any risky situations or behaviour.


I've been a member now at the Olympia Dundee for over a year, travelling via two buses, and have found swimming there to be very therapeutic, relaxing and safe.  Lane swimming and hot showers, useful when recovering from a hamstring injury after a bike fall in September.  Having taken up cycling early in the year, on and off road, I don't use the gym as much, do dumbbell exercises at home.  There's only so much gear I can carry in my rucksack at the one time!

Summing up, it was useful to try out other swimming pools and I will continue to do so when visiting new areas, if possible.  It was like a mini action research project, testing out the waters, building up confidence while getting fitter.   All grist to the mill for a psychiatric survivor, adventurer and PhD student.

after swimming at The Olympia Dundee 5 December 2016


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