“ Address: The Esplanade / Ryde / Isle of Wight PO33 1JA / England „
Swimming is an activity that I generally enjoy, but also one which I don't partake in as often as I should due to my general lazyness! Anyway, when I do go, it's either in one of two places; 'The Heights' in Sandown, or 'The Waterside Pool' in Ryde. Seeing as I've already reviewed The Heights, it's now the turn of my other venue of choice to be in the dooyoo spotlight.
The Waterside is a small swimming pool which has an unusual feature in the form of a retractable roof. Yes, you heard correctly - a retractable roof. On hot and sunny days, the hydraulic roof 'slides' open, whilst on rainy and cold days it remains tightly closed.
Situated next to the boating lake on the Esplanade, the 25 metre pool has large glass windows all the way round, meaning that those who like a bit of privacy when splashing around will be left disappointed.
The pool used to be 'open air' until the roof was added in the 90's at a fairly hefty cost - but it also meant that the popularity of the pool received a (short lived) boost with customers keen to see the new and ambitious structure.
The Waterside Pool has a secondary shallow pool for kids which is still open air, and located adjacent to the main pool - but this is often closed for some unknown reason.
The information from the website tells us that the Waterside Pool is open all year, offering facilities for everyone ranging from toddlers to 50+ groups, with activities covering casual swimming to snorkelling, aquafit classes to swimming lessons and pool lifeguard training.
Although I haven't visited the Waterside Pool recently, in the past I have found it to be well maintained and clean. As a council owned venue, the price for a swim is fairly reasonable, and certainly inline with the other pools on the Island - so no complaints there.
The changing rooms are small but adequate and offer the usual facilities of showers and plenty of lockers. Unfortunately, there isn't a café in the pool - but there is one next door. Unusually however, there is a drinks vending machine right next to the waters edge.
For novelty value, the Waterside Pool always makes for an interesting visit - no, it does haven't water slides, or top class facilities - but how many swimming pools have a roof that mechanically opens!?.
Waterside Pool is a public swimming pool located on the seafront in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. There are three main public swimming pools on the Island but this is my favourite and the one that I visit the most. The main thing that sets this pool aside from many others is the fact that it has a retractable roof! I am pleased to say this is kept firmly shut in the winter months but due to the fact that the building is basically one big green house made almost entirely of glass it does get a bit chilly in the winter! The pool is located right next door the boating lake so you get some great views!
There is a small separate pool outside however this is only used in the summer and at this time of year it looks more like a pond as it is not maintained! At Waterside there is only a swimming pool so for those that like all their sports leisure facilities under one roof this is not the place for you! The only seating area is by the pool side and the only refreshments are by means of two vending machines. There is adequate seating though for parents to sit whilst their children swim, you couldn't ask for a better view being only about six feet from the pool edge!
Once you enter the building you have a few notice boards and the reception counter. Once you have paid or shown your membership card you walk straight into the pool area with the changing rooms to the left and right. I found this a bit strange when I first went here as usually you access the pool via the changing rooms! This causes another problem due to the fact that you get a lot of drafts coming in every time someone opens the door to some in just to add to the chillyness! There is an automatic sliding door to come through first into the reception area but only a push and pull door to access the pool area and the cold air seems to find its way through!
One of the main reasons I prefer this pool is the changing rooms. They are very spacious and there are approximately ten individual changing cubicles. For someone like myself lacking self confidence the thought of having to strip off in front of strangers horrifies me, as if it isn't bad enough having to wear a swimming costume to show off all your lumps and bumps! The individual cubicles all have locks on the doors and offer the privacy that many women want. There are three showers which are in need of a bit of a makeover as they are getting a bit tatty but they work fine and offer a warm blast of relief on a cold winters night! The staff clean the changing rooms quite regularly and the only bad times I have noticed is when it has been raining heavily outside and people don't wipe their feet before they come in as the floor gets a bit muddy.
Once the walk of shame is complete from the changing room to the pool it is time to check the temperature! This pool is quite inconsistent with it's temperature, sometimes it takes your breath away with the cold and other times it is fine! It's a bit of pot luck really! The water is always nice and clean though despite the occasional bit of foam swimming float passing you by! I am glad to say that this is the only kind of 'floater' I have seen in there!
The pool does get quite busy between five and half six due to people like myself enjoying a swim after work. This is not a very big pool and only about six lanes wide but is a good length at 25m. The peak times are not helped by the fact that children's swimming lessons take place during term time between five and seven and two of the lanes are roped off for this. I often find myself swimming longer lengths when it is busy due to the fact that I have to weave in and out of fellow swimmers! The life guards are very good and if they see and kids playing up and disturbing people who just want a quiet swim they soon put them in line!
I am not sure how much an individual swim cost here as I took out the councils 'One Card' which allows me unlimited use of the pool for £165 a year. I usually go swimming twice a week so this works out the cheapest way to pay for it. The card allows me to use any of the Councils pools and access to other facilities including squash and badminton courts and even crazy golf in the summer!
Overall despite its flaws I still love this pool! The fact that it is a small building it feels a lot friendlier and I feel very comfortable swimming here. I am looking forward to the summer again when the roof gets pulled back, it's just as good as swimming in the great outdoors!
Plenty activities covering casual swimming to snorkelling, aquafit classes to swimming lessons and pool lifeguard training. For all ages.