Over the past two summers Bob Holman and his friend Dave Pratten from Swanage have been on a challenge to swim a mile in every existing lido in the United Kingdom. This was inspired by a book called “Liquid Assets” written by journalist, Janet Smith. This details the history of the great British lido and gives a wonderful account of the architectural and social influences of open air public baths, particularly during the golden age when literally hundreds were built between the two world wars.
For Bob and Dave, this was a journey back in time as they grew up during the 40s, 50s and 60s when the local lido was the place to meet and spend time with friends.
It was soon decided to make the challenge a sponsored event and the Save the Children Fund was chosen. To date Bob and Dave have raised over £3,500 for this very worthy cause.
When the book was published in 2005, there were 98 lidos listed as still operating. This was to be a huge logistical challenge as they spread from the wonderful art deco Jubilee Pool in Penzance, Cornwall to Stonehaven in Scotland. Since then, one or two pools have been lost but a few pools have reopened. It has been a wonderful experience visiting these pools with a story to tell in each one of them. The staff and management in most of the pools have shown great kindness and encouragement and many times the pools were opened especially for the intrepid pair.
The challenge started on the 19 May 2007 when the pair visited Somerset with the first lido being swum at Wiveliscombe. In all they swam 99 miles in 99 individual lidos and returned to Wiveliscombe on Wednesday 20th. August to complete their 100th. mile and the challenge.
Both Bob and Dave agreed that it had been an unforgettable experience with so many twists and turns. They must write a book one day!