COVID-19: swimmers back Heath safety measures in survey

A survey of Hampstead Heath swimmers has revealed an overwhelmingly positive verdict on safety measures put in place at the Bathing Ponds and Parliament Hill Fields Lido.

The City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, ran the September poll to learn about the experiences of swimmers over the summer season.

Following a brief closure due to COVID-19, the Heath’s three bathing ponds and lido reopened in early July with temporary safety measures including an online booking system, lane swimming, social distancing measures and set swim sessions.

Over 80 per cent of survey respondents gave the COVID-19 safety measures a score of between seven and 10, with 10 ranked as ‘excellent’, while almost 60 per cent rated the online booking system between seven and 10.

Anne Fairweather, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said:

“It was a difficult start to the 2020 Summer Season, with so much uncertainty around reopening.

“But we were able to move quickly and put in place COVID-secure arrangements as soon as Government guidance arrived.

“This survey shows how hard our staff worked to reopen safely and provide thousands of people the opportunity to swim over summer.

“I’m so pleased that so many people have enjoyed swimming on the Heath this summer. I’d like to thank our team who have showed such dedication and commitment this year.”

Over 1,100 people took part in the survey, 60 per cent of whom were swimmers using the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond and 68 per cent were local residents.

The reopening was met with huge demand, with almost 125,000 tickets sold in two months, with over a quarter of these at the concession rate of £2.40.

The City Corporation gave free or discounted swimming to 100 youngsters in local play schemes, youth projects and schools during July and August at Parliament Hill Fields Lido.

The winter swimming season has now started, with free morning swims for under 16s and over 60s between at the Bathing Ponds.

Hampstead Heath is a registered charity, and all income generated from ticket sales is reinvested back into the site.

The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in the capital, including Epping Forest, West Ham Park and Burnham Beeches, and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile.

The City Corporation funds its open spaces with over £29 million a year. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.

“I felt safe and comfortable” – comments from the survey

“Impressed by the hard work to reopen as soon as possible and as safely as possible and trying to accommodate all fairly. Well done and thank you.”

“The lockdown was handled in a very professional manner. The facilities were clean and in excellent shape.”

“It has been fantastic to have the ponds and lido open again. Given all the worry and restrictions caused by the pandemic, swimming on the Heath has been an oasis of pleasure.”

“The lifeguards are all excellent, and the site is managed very well. I have felt safe and comfortable during the COVID restrictions. I actually prefer it this way – I like the booking system.”

Notes to Editors:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk