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The Naked Democracy of the Swimming Pool - Carole Stagg

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Carole Stagg is a force of nature, a pocket dynamo swimming endless lengths in all weathers (particularly cold ones)

I live in Central Brixton, I have done all my life apart from a short spell in West Norwood. My perfect day starts at various times according to the seasons but in summertime I’ll be up at 6am and in the pool by 6.30 am. In winter, I’ll have a coffee in bed and get up about 7-7.30. First thing I check the weather and twitter for lido water temp updates. If I have time I meditate for 20mins too I don’t eat before but I usually have porridge and banana or overnight oats with fruit in the summer - always after the swim! I do like being one of the first here although sometimes feel a bit lazy about the facing the mad morning dash out at dawn. When I get to the Lido very early I like to sit and just be with the calmness of the morning, the stillness of the water, the birds, the slow wakening of the space. I love chatting and shared greetings with the swimmers and the sense of community.

Coming at different times means I meet a lot more people - I like sitting out on the bench and I prefer to change outside in all weathers, even when its really raining. I don’t think I went in the changing room at all this winter. I also love joining the picnic bench where we all sit round in the mornings and have coffee and chat. The sauna (or tardis, as I call it) is another thing I enjoy. A little wooden box, where I've had so many great conversations and so many laughs. The shower outside - I really love that I am outside looking at the pool and the swimmers, taking in the fact I am there, just hanging out having a wash. I like to take photos too, especially underwater and I have just received a Nikonos as a birthday present so I’m trying that out at the moment.

I have been swimming here since I was 3 years old and have a very strong memory of being in the water with my mum and dad and feeling overwhelmed by the size of it. I love the Lido, it is a big part of my life, my childhood, my kids growing up, the local community and the building itself is still impressive. I like the blue of the paint on the floor of the pool and the colour it creates in the water which changes according to the light intensity. I feel real gratitude for the lifeguards who keep it all running so that we can indulge our quirky addiction, throughout the cold months and inclement weather. I work from home mostly as a coach, so I am on the laptop or I have 1-1 sessions. I eat breakfast when I get home in the winter months or by the pool in the summer. At the weekend we sometimes break the mould and go for coffee at Wish in Herne Hill, we'll pick up some leek pie in the farmers market from Old Post Office bakers or head off to Tooting for a south Indian breakfast combo. Very occasionally I have a breakfast at Van Gough café.

I eat a plant based (vegan) diet and my absolute favourite restaurant is Vanilla Black - here you'll find an edible art piece or the equivalent of a symphony or opera experience only in food! I like to explore the independent galleries around Mayfair for some cultural inspiration (that you can't eat). I love music, I sometimes DJ, always with vinyl and I'll play an eclectic mix of 1920-1980's tunes - creating a chilled atmosphere, for those that need to recover from the night before and are in the mood to join me on a nostalgic journey. If I have time I like to browse the charity shops and car boot sales - I've found a lot of interesting stuff and the occassional bargain. My perfect summer day ends with another evening swim, as the light starts to fade and sun starts sinking - then hanging out with friends and chilling to some music. In winter I like being cosy by the fire, drinking wine, or going to the theatre. I'm usually in bed by 9.30 with a good book, although I still love to go out and dance until the early hours, to some really good tunes, old school dub, a bit of drum and base, reggae, dubstep, Channel One stuff. Then I’m ready to start again!

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