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Guide to Dog Swim Days at Lidos & Outdoor Pools (around the UK)

By September 17, 2018 No Comments

Dog on the edge of the swimming pool for a Dog Swim Day at a UK lido

Dog swims at outdoor swimming pools and lidos are a thing. So where and when can you take your canine friend to one of these? This weekend we headed to Saltdean Lido, in Brighton and Hove, for the second edition of theirs (which was glorious!), but are there any other venues? We found 6 lidos and outdoor pools hosting dog days and swims around the UK, and we tell you all about them, so you can plan your next dog-friendly getaway around those!

6 Lidos and Outdoor Swimming Pools Hosting Dog Swim Days

Dog Swim paddling pool

#1.Chipping Norton Lido Dog Swim (Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire)

The Chipping Norton Lido (also known as Chippy Lido) is the lido where all began in the UK. Their first Dog Swim took place in 2013 and they told us that this was after a Dutch visitor mentioned that it is something they do in The Netherlands. “At that first one (the first in the UK), there were three dogs. Interest in subsequent events grew to the extent that, in the last few years, we release news of the date and how to buy tickets mid-season and it sells out in hours”, told us Claire Williamson, one of Chipping Norton Lido’s trustees.

“This year it was a real pleasure to welcome Countryfile’s Adam Henson and his dogs to the event, and local canine hero, Eddy, who will be more famous to younger viewers of Channel 5’s Milkshake in his CGI form as a co-star of ‘Shane the Chef'”, noted Claire.

Chippy Lido confirmed that they only hold “one session, on the last day of our season, after the last human swimmers have finished. Obviously dog-owning humans can still go in the pool with their dogs!” They also confirmed that they cap the number of dogs participating to the event to around 80, which they say it’s enough for canine mayhem fun. If you are interested in seeing what it looks like, you can watch a video from their 2016 edition on BBC here.

This year’s Dog Swim was held last weekend (9th September 2018), so stay tuned for 2019’s dates, to be released next year.

Tickets: 2018’s ticket price was £12.50 per dog and the dog’s family and friends get in for free. Chippy Lido’s team also noted that The Dog Swim is an important fundraiser as well as being great fun: it contributes to running this community-run facility (which has a committee of voluntary trustees taking ultimate responsibility for the charity that underpins the limited company).

Where: Chipping Norton Lido, Fox Close, Chipping Norton, OX7 5BZ,  Oxfordshire

#. 2 Saltdean Lido Dog Swim (Brighton and Hove, East Sussex)

Saltdean Lido dog swim

Saltdean Lido is an art deco lido, minutes from the sea, in Brighton and Hove. Taking inspiration from Chippy Lido’s Dog Swim, Saltdean Lido held its first Dog Swim last year, in 2017.

Jules Shepherd, from Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, explained to us that all Saltdean Lido’s crew are dog lovers and they have one or even two dogs each, so for them this is the best day. Jules has two rescue dogs herself, Huxley the hound cross and Heidi the flatcoated retriever corgi cross, and funnily enough, they both hate water and don’t even dare to venture in the paddling pool. The best reward, for her, is that humans and dogs “come in smiling and goes away grinning all over”, she said.

The first Dog Swim they hosted, last year, received an incredible media attention. This weekend, on 15 and 16 September 2018, they did it again, shortening the sesssions (last year 4 hours each), in order to accomodate more dogs,  and they sold out again! This time we were able to go along. Argo the dog is water-obsessed and he really had the time of his life, running, swimming, diving for the whole 1.5 hours, without a pause. It was a wonderful canine pandemonium, balls everywhere, dogs running, playing, barking, swimming, diving, with others staying well away from  water.

With 4 swimming sessions per day, of 1.5 hours each, Jules told us that they welcomed some 1,000 dogs over the two days. They had capped the number of dogs (and swimmers) at 150 per session for health & safety reasons, taking into account the number of lifeguards present.

The dates for next year’s event will be announced next year, in the new swimming season. Note: Saltdean Lido’s building will undergo restoration starting in January, but the swimming pool will be reopened as usual for the new swimming season. If you want to support the works you can donate through their fundraiser page.

Tickets: For the 2018 edition there were 3 different type of tickets, for dogs and human swimmers (£ 7.70 each) and for spectators (£3.85).

Where: Saltdean Lido, The Oval Park, Saltdean Park Rd, Saltdean, Brighton BN2 8SP, East Sussex

#3. Jubilee Pool Dog Day (Penzance, West Cornwall)

Dog at Jubilee Pool Penzance

Argo at Jubilee Pool’s cafe, in Penzance

Jubilee Pool is an art deco seawater lido located in Penzance, West Cornwall. We visited it earlier this month and it is a very lovely place. While its cafe is always dog-friendly, as all other lidos, dogs are not allowed in the pool. But the rule does not apply on one particular day of the year, at its end of season, the Jubilee Pool Dog Day!

Jubilee Pool hosted its first Dog Day in 2017, in occasion of the end of the season, and it was an incredible success. For this reason, they decided to do it again. In 2018, the date is 30 September. The programme of the day is probably the most exciting of all the lidos and pools hosting similar dog days

This is Jubilee Pool’s description:

10.30 -18.00: open for swims and fun
13.00: dog fancy dress competition (2019 swim prizes)
15.00: Jubilee Pool dog show sponsored by Regent Court Vets (classes cost £1 each and are: Most Handsome Dog, Prettiest Bitch, Best Small Dog (under 14 inches), Best Medium Dog (14-25 inches), Best Large Dog (26+ inches), Best Puppy (under 1 year), Best Veteran (7+ years), Best Rescue, Best Pair, Waggiest Tail, Dog Most Like Their Owner, Best Trick, Dog The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home, Most Appealing Eyes, Best Child Handler (under 14), Best Fancy Dress, Best In Show)
15.00-18.00: general larking, woofing, paddling and panting, maybe some rolling and ball catching.

We confirmed with them that no pre-registration is required and people can just turn out on the day. They have a maximum capacity of 600 on poolside and 400 in the water, and dogs and owners’ presence is not articulated in sessions, but can stay for how long they want between 10.30am and 6pm. The also host special sessions for nervous dogs in a roped off area of the pool in collaboration with The Soggy Dog Co.

Tickets: Normal entrance prices apply (£4 per person) + £3 per dog (all proceeds go back into the community run social enterprise which runs the pool, Jubilee Pool Penzance Limited). We are currently confirming whether pre-registration is required.

Where: Jubilee Pool, Battery Road, Penzance TR18 4FF

More information about the Jubilee Pool Dog Day on their blog.

View of Jubilee Pool in Penzance

Jubilee Pool

#4. Sandford Parks Lido Dog Swim (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)

Also Sandford Park Lido, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, started off its dog swim in 2017. Sandford Park Lido will be hosting the 2018 edition of the Lido Dog Swim on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October 2018 from 10am to 6pm, and there are tickets still available!

Swimming sessions: Sessions are much shorter than the ones organised at Saltdean Lido (unfortunately) and last 30 minutes each (a bit too short in our opinion).

Tickets: For the 2018 edition, tickets cost £10 + admin fee and get access for one dog + 2 accompanying humans.

Other conditions: minimum one person (+16) per dog, dogs on a lead unless when they are entering water.

Where: Sandford Park Lido, Keynsham Rd, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7PU

Small dog at the swimming pool at the Dog Swim

#5. Shoalstone Sea Water Pool (Brixham, South Devon)

On 2 April 2018, at Shoalstone Seawater Pool was hosted the FOSP (Friends of Shoalstone Pool) Doggy Swim. A second date was scheduled on Saturday 15th September 2018, for a Doggy Swim & Play, lasting one hour only. The event raised a good amount for the pool.

Tickets: 2018 tickets were £3 per dog, toys to use at the pool, with refreshments for dogs and owners available.

Where: Shoalstone Seawater Pool, Brixham, TQ5 9AH, Devon

Little and large Dogs at dog swim

#6. Portishead Open Air Pool TopDog Event (Portishead, Somerset)

This year, also Portishead Open Air Pool, on the example of Sandford Parks Lido and Saltdean Lido, decided ride the wave and host its first dog swim too.

Their “You’re #TopDog – Dog and Owner Water Safety Swim” will be taking place on 30 September 2018, and tickets for dogs (which costed £5 plus administrative fees for sessions of 30 minutes each) have already sold out. However, Portishead Open Air Pool said that spectators without dogs are welcome to go along to watch and ask questions to the experts from the emergency services present on the day, about who to keep safe dogs and owners in and around water. You can read more on their blog here.

Tickets: In 2018, ticket price was £5

Sessions: 30 minutes each (quite short in our opinion)

Where: Portishead Open Air Pool, Esplanade Road, Portishead, BS20 7HD (Bristol), Somerset

Dog with tennis ball in swimming pool at Saltdean Lido

Credits: Karina and Paul Mansfield/@Designsbykarina and @Petsillustrations on Instagram

#7. Woodgreen Leisure Centre Dog & Owner Swim (Banbury, Oxfordshire)

(Added 19 September 2018): One more dog swim to add to the list! Woodgreen Leisure Centre, in Banbury, Oxfordshire, joined the fun and hosted its first dog swim on 16th September 2018.

Tickets: were £12 per dog (with 2 accompanying adults), £1 for spectators

Sessions: 50 minutes per session (not possible to book more than one session per dog), with 10 minutes for turn around time.

All conditions detailed at this webpage here.

London dog swim events at pools & lidos?

But what about London? Is there any place in the capital hosting similar days? Well, back in July this year, dog sitting and walking network Rover, to celebrate its UK launch, hosted a Dog Swimming Gala  at the West Reservoir Centre in Hackney, with 20-minutes swimming sessions, a race and other activities.

We are not aware of any other dog swim past or planned, but would definitely love to see more dog swim events in the capital! For now, you will have to fall back on London dog ponds and invite your dog friends for a group swim.

Are you planning your next holiday on the ground of the next Dog Swim?

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