One of the most interesting clubs in London’s famous Hyde Park is the Serpentine Swimming Club.
Thought to be one of the oldest swimming clubs in the country, it is a must for those who enjoy an outdoor dip. Members can swim every day in the park’s Serpentine Lake between the hours of 6am and 9.30am – no matter what the weather!
One of the annual highlights for members is the special racing event held every Christmas morning.
For more than 100 years, members have come together in Hyde Park at 9am on Christmas morning to take part in the Peter Pan Cup. Anyone who has taken part in the club’s winter training races is eligible to enter the festive challenge.
The 100-metre race involves diving into waters of around four degrees Celsius and is for the most committed swimmers – especially as wetsuits are banned from the event!
Any new members can pick up an application form from the club and the current annual subscription is £20 running from January 1st to December 31st.
For anyone not quite in to swimming enough to consider becoming a member, then there is the Hyde Park Lido. Open from May 2nd until the middle of September, visitors can enjoy a 100 metre swimming pool and a special children’s paddling pool. There is also a café and a number of sun loungers for those wanting to relax by the water as the weather starts to heat up.
The exact date of the formation of the club is unknown, but it is thought people have taken to the waters of Hyde Park since it was first opened to the public.
Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had the initial idea of creating a lake in the park to help improve its natural beauty and it is thought the first Christmas Day race was held in 1864 – although there had been a number of unofficial winter events before that date.
The Serpentine Lake was also used as a key venue during the London 2012 Olympic Games, when it was used to host the swimming part of the men’s and women’s triathlon races.