Swimmers took their first dip of the year in Abingdon’s Abbey Meadow pool on Monday as it reopened just in time for the school holidays.

Many people in Abingdon spent most of the month of June campaigning to see the lido back to its former glory as the district council, which owns the facility, revealed that reopening posed a 'significant financial challenge' at the time.

The pool reopening was delayed this year due to Covid, but it was able to open with the help of a financial package from The Vale of White Horse District Council.

Oxford Mail:

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of The Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “There was never a plan to close the pool, but obviously during Covid lots of leisure centres closed and we have been working to get it open as quickly as we possibly can. We provided a financial package to support the opening and to get it going again."

A huge amount of work went into reopening the pool. The building and pool had to be cleaned, filled and heated to the perfect temperature.

Oxford Mail: Better man. The mascot for Better leisure centres.  Picture: Rebecca Whittaker

Ms Smith said: “After Covid people seem to be more interested in different sports and getting outside, and I think particularly for children and young people their mental health has taken a bit of a hit and having a facility where they can come outside and socialise in a safe way is really positive.”

There to celebrate the outdoor pool's reopening were the famous ‘Lido Ladies’ from South London.

The enthusiastic lido swimmers Jessica Walker and Nicola Foster have made it their mission to swim in as many outdoor pools as possible.

Read also: When will outdoor pools reopen? - list of dates

The swimming pair met dog walking and eventually became friends through their love of swimming and were devastated when pools closed due to the pandemic. To cheer themselves up they brought the Lido to them and started posting fun Lido related snaps to social media and made a name for themselves.

Oxford Mail:

Dressed in glamorous retro swimming gear the pair have been celebrating The UK’s lidos as they reopen and encouraging others to take up swimming for its physical and mental health benefits.

Ms Foster said: “Abingdon sees this pool as a real hub for the community and that it actually has a knock-on economic benefit for the town. It is a destination.”

Ms Walker added: “The minute I walked through the changing room door I thought I had come to a spa.”

Covid 19 operating restrictions will still be in place, with all visitors to the pool having to book in advance using the Better App or booking via the Better UK Website.

The splash pad at Abbey Meadow will also reopen shortly on Monday 19.

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