My best swim ever!

Sarah Mintram, refreshed after her swim

One of Shirley Pools most loyal customers, Sarah Mintram, was delighted with her swim today, “Best swim ever” she said as she left the pool in her swim robe. The reason for today, other than any other day being the best ever – no “spalshy” swimmers!

Karon gets mobile

Sarah is not the only one donning a robe to get to and from the pool. Lane swimmer Karon can be seen pedalling home after her swim, just with her towelling robe thrown over her costume. On yer bike Karon!

The pool is open for lane swimming Monday to Friday, booking available on 02380 781901.

Don’t forget, lessons restart August 17th, more details here

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Comeback to swimming

Children, parents and pensioners are all beaming after their first swims back at Shirley Pool.

It feels like Christmas!

“The water is so clear and everything seems new”, said Kate Baxter after her swim. Kate learnt to swim at Shirley as a child and went on to become an England Champion. Her current club can’t access training times as most pools remain closed, so she has been keeping her strokes together at Shirley. ” I’ve swum here a few times now, it’s good to be back” .

There were many other votes of confidence in the new design,

” It’s like a brand new pool” said Val Perry, original owner of the family business built back in 1974 .

Regular lane swimmers Deborah and Marion have been using the pool for over twenty years and have swum everyday since re-opening,

” The pool is wonderful, we are all so grateful. I feel safer here than the supermarket. It lends itself so well to the changes, no clutter, no doors, just straight into the pool”

Watch a series of short videos walking through the new designed pool.

Retiring owner Dave Perry is pleased with the response but cautious,
 ” This pool is unique. To my knowledge it is the only privately owned, purpose built teaching centre in the UK , but the circumstances could not be any more testing.We have survived the 1970’s oil crisis, several major recessions and two rebuilds, I’m confident we can safely fully reopen with the highest quality of teaching.  But we need parents to come and try the pool for themselves to see how safe and clean it is.”

” Being independent gives us huge flexibility to adapt quickly. There is no way we can return to the huge numbers of swimmers that we had before. At one time there were over 2,000 babies, children and adults in classes every week. With only 4 in each class now, that number is going to be much smaller.”

Starting on Monday August 17th, customers are invited to try their new times for classes with the direct debits not restarting till September 1st.

The new Shirley Swimming Pool app will enable customers to confirm their swimming time and day.

A note left at reception after this weeks’ crash course

Karon Bricknell The water really was perfect today. A great swim at lunchtime too 👍🏊

Samantha WilliamsMy daughter did a crash course last week, can’t believe the progress she made. You’ve made the pool feel safe as well, was very happy 😊

Peter John Boustred Excellent set up, good work guys. So efficient and perhaps some of the changes may make sense in longer term

Becky Ward Yep. Can second this. It’s been brilliant for my daughter to get back in the pool and the care and thought to make it safe has been outstanding.

Zoe Birtle I felt very safe at adult lane swimming too

This is how reception looks now.
Many lane swimmers come pool ready

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Covid Declaration Form

Click here to complete the online declaration form

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All our ducks are in a row

Ready to go swimming!

This weekend Shirley Pool is inviting staff families and friends to come swimming to test our plans and iron out any issues. We think the pools are ready to go, all our ducks are in a line, Covid compliant.

From Monday it will be your chance to swim: School age children classes are taking place everyday for the next two weeks in Crash Courses. There is a class for every level from beginners to swim club. Check the Crash Course page to see availability.

In between, three times a day adults can swim in lanes, but spaces are going fast as only 7 spaces are available in the ladies, 5 in the mens. Yes, you can do butterfly if you really want to and no, you don’t have to go home with a soggy costume on. Check the times here

Dry bag area on the main pool

There will be several obvious changes when you visit, one being the compulsory removal of all lockers. In their place on the pool side there are three dry areas for bags and towels to be stored while swimming.

Bench by the small pool for bags and towels.

The two Terrys’ give the playground a lick of paint.
The newly installed outdoor waiting area

A large open sided marque has been installed in the area outside to act as a waiting area before lessons start. A member of staff will meet each class 15 minutes before the start to check attendance and explain changing procedures.

Boris cleans the main pool

Meanwhile, the robot that cleans the pool overnight is roaming freely at the moment, keeping the water sparkling. Bumbling around in a seemingly random manner, climbing walls, doing U turns, going backwards, sideways and sucking up all the time, the staff have nicknamed him – BORIS!

Boris cleans the small pool.
Ducks are ready!
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Nearly ready..

The hottest place in town? Maybe – the water in the small pool is up to 32 degrees. Could be the only place in town that is open for children’s swimming lessons this summer.

The new look ladies changing room

A great effort from the team and a big helping hand from Polish Maids to scrub the floors, benches and walls means the pool is well on it’s way to opening on the 27th July.

Safely spaced benches where the lockers used to be in the ladies which will also be used as a “wet” change area

Monday will see the first Adult lane swimming sessions since March and the start of summer crash courses in small classes, socially distanced. The main pool will be 29 degrees.

The reception area

The super new UV and constantly monitored water levels offer crystal clear water, killing any potential threat from Covid-19.

Reception – chairs and play area removed

Parent & Child, toddler lessons and after school stroke technique classes will restart in September with smaller classes.

The male changing area will also be used as part of the “dry” change one way system.
One large baby change, one toddler seat and one bench in the gents.
The unused showers provide extra room for changing.

There is still time to book – reception staff are on duty 10am-4pm Thursday and Friday. Call on 02380781901

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We are Open!

The pools open on Monday 27th July.

During the summer there will be a special timetable for Crash Course Swimming Lessons and Adult Lane Swimming.

Crash Courses and Lane Swimming can be booked and prepaid by telephone from 10 am – 4pm from Monday 20th July on 02380 781901 option 2, or drop an email to

Crash Courses for Children

Adult Lane Swimming

The next direct debit payment for customers will be on September 1st when the full lesson programme resumes.

Current customers will be allocated their lessons and times to restart in September.

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Solo Crossing is underway

At least someone is swimming! Shirley Pool’s star pupil Chris Cole is swimming the English Channel, setting off at 4.52am this morning, Tuesday July 14th.

Chris prepares to take the plunge for the start of his solo crossing of the English Channel

It is a remarkable story of determination and resilience to reach this point. Unable to swim ten years ago, the Hythe GP took his first steps to learning how to swim, aged 39. In the small learner pool at Shirley, Chris began by blowing bubbles, immersing his face for the first time. Under the careful guidance of the swim teachers, Chris’s confidence grew and he soon mastered the fundamentals of breathing in the water

Like many other adults today, Chris had never experienced lessons as a child and was determined to ensure his children were safe in water. Research shows as many as one in three adults cannot swim properly.

The first steps are always the most difficult, as Chris explains ““ I knew the pool had a good reputation and yet the thought of swimming filled me with anxiety and embarrassment”

It wasn’t long before Chris progressed to the main pool to develop his strokes and stamina.

The link below shows the current progress of Chris’s solo attempt:

On the boat today supporting is Ashley Christopher, a teacher from Shirley Pool and a close friend . A successful solo Channel swimmer himself, it was Ash who first introduced Chris to sea swimming and helped with that tricky transition to colder, murkier waters.

The pair can be found early on most Sunday mornings, throughout the year, training on Bournemouth Beach with the Durley Sea Swimmers.

In 2019 the pair formed a relay team from Shirley Pool and made a successful crossing of the Channel, raising £10,000 for local charities.

Chris has funded all the costs of todays Channel crossing himself and has started a Just Giving page to raise money for a small charity that is close to his heart and is well on the way to raising his £5,000 target.

Live reports from the deck of the pilot ship Sea Leopard can be found on Chris’s facebook page

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Yes we have a date!

Indoor pools can reopen from July 25th 2020.

There will be a number of new restrictions to comply with. Once those have been discussed and absorbed we will revisit our risk assessment and adjust our plans.

There may well be many changes to the way you have used the pool before. For example, everyone who wants to swim will be a member of Shirley Swimming Pool and almost all sessions will require pre booking.

All children in the swim lesson program have been allocated a time and a day, as close as possible to their regular time in March, before we closed. Before the end of July those families, and adult beginners and improvers, will be sent a link to to use the new on line system and view those times and browse alternatives.

You won’t be able to move your lessons about on line but you will be able to book catch up lessons.

Access to changing will be time limited and the showers will be out of use.

We anticipate an out door “check in” area to keep the reception area free.

Many parents already bring school aged children changed ready for swimming and then use a onesie or towelling robe to go home. This is part of the new government guidelines.

The lessons will be smaller, four in a class, which means a limit on numbers. We will give priority to all existing members and only open up for new customers when existing members have found a class that suits.

The numbers in lane swimming will be restricted to the capacity of the changing areas.The thought at present is to have dedicated (male & female) changing areas when there is no lessons in the pools – early morning and later in the evening- and to allow “no change” swimming at other times. That means arriving ready to swim, putting changing robes in a bag to take poolside and then leaving the pool in the robe.

Most reception staff are on holiday or furloughed at the moment but if you want to communicate please email ( and we will work through them when we can.

Those pre school children due to transfer to after school classes will need to let us know their preferences if they haven’t done so already.

It’s exciting news, keep looking out for our posts, we will try and keep you in the loop at every step.

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Boris can’t swim yet

3 July 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed a timetable for the reopening of swimming pools will be announced this week.

The small pool at Shirley being tested this weekend

Shirley Pool has welcomed the news but urged the details be revealed as soon as possible due to the length of time it takes the pool  to prepare for opening doors again.

In a televised press conference, Mr Johnson said: “Swimming pools are still closed and I want those restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible – of course I do.

“We have established task forces to work rapidly and closely with those sectors that remain closed to explore how they can be Covid-secure.

“I’m pleased to report that good progress is being made.

“Next week, we will set out a timetable for their reopening. Of course I can only lift those national restrictions as and when it is safe to do so.

Earlier this week, Government and public health officials visited four swimming pools – both indoor and outdoor – to see how facilities are able to operate safely.

One of the UK governing bodies of swimming, Swim England said, “It seems ludicrous that, from 10 July, you can fly abroad to some European countries to swim and return to England without having to quarantine, yet you can’t visit your local pool.

“We’ve worked closely with the Government, Public Health England and medical professionals to create our robust Returning to the Pool guidance, which proves how swimming pools can be safely used.

Luke Perry, Shirley Pool manager said ” We were flat out working towards July 4th and they pulled the rug.

The water is warm and safe, Chlorine kills Covid-19

“We know things will be very different to what they used to be but I know our swimmers will adapt to the circumstances.

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No opening date yet!

It is deeply disappointing that Boris Johnson has made no clear indication in Parliament this afternoon about the reopening of swimming pools in England, despite announcing that pubs, restaurants, cinemas and even hairdressers can open.

The pools are looking great, ready to go..

Today, we all anticipated there would be positive news and that we would all be looking forward to making plans to reopen post 4th July.

“To say today’s announcement is extremely frustrating for everyone involved in swimming would be an understatement; not only in terms of the financial consequences for swimming pool operators and swim schools, but the impact it will have on participants not being able to access lessons and learn a key life skill.” said Dave Chandler, CEO STA

The STA are looking to actively work with all the major bodies involved in leisure to take action and lobby the government for further clarity and guidance on the reopening of swimming pools.

In support, as a first step, they have started an official petition so that we can hopefully reach an even wider public community – please sign and share far and wide …


Sign the STA petition

Sign the Swim England petition

One of the new “Dry change” areas at Shirley Pool. Lockers and furniture have been removed, floors and walls deep cleaned.
Showers and water being tested by Kingfisher Environmental, ready for use.

The Shirley Pool has been “mothballed” since March and all activities stopped since the government directive due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staff have been developing the plan for re-opening to comply with regulations. With advice from the two governing bodies of swimming, Swim England and STA, a one way system has evolved in order to enable dry change and wet change areas; the reception has been gutted and a new, smaller front desk installed; new software has been purchased to enable on line enrolment and booking make up lessons; teachers have been busy designing a new teaching plan to avoid manual handling and the Big Red Bus is now converted to a take away.

Shirley pool is confident it can continue to deliver wonderful teaching in a safe and comfortable environment. We will just have to wait until we are told it is safe to welcome back swimmers.

Looks like September opening now…

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