Why we swim…

After years of campaigning it can be easy to take the baths for granted.  So it was marvellous to get this e-mail through from Amy Williams, a new swimmer…

I live in nearby Kings Heath and can cycle to Moseley Baths as there are cycle stands outside. It’s such a beautiful building and reminds me of learning to swim under light curved ceilings as a child. It has a feel of generations of people bringing in their hearts, souls and minds to be washed clean of their daily concerns and revived ready to face the world again.

I’ve just returned from a swim this morning. I started 2013 with the aim to improve my health and stamina while seeking a chance to meditate on daily obstacles to my dreams. I find swimming is the best recommendation for gently easing into enjoyable exercise. I started out with two lengths a few weeks ago and today, despite the snow, I’m back for 10 lengths. I hope to get into a regular pattern of twenty lengths on a Monday using the Be Active scheme which is free to use.

The pool side cubicles make it safe and private to change. There’s even one with a baby seat and to accommodate disabilities. The pool is small enough that you can achieve a number of lengths but large enough that you feel you aren’t kidding yourself. The temperature is warm but not tiring there are warm jets from the sides giving pleasant sensations of relaxation as you work on your stroke. The showers are super warm so that you can leave feeling ready for the world and the journey home.

Staff are friendly and helpful with knowledge of lots of schemes to get you involved with attending; whether Be Active, Strokes for lessons, ladies/men only, parents, disabilities. Plus, as I needed a rest before cycling home, I popped into the library next door to sit down and read. As it happened I had a chat with another ‘newcomer’ to Birmingham (we have been here several years) about getting to know the local community and making friends. We’d come to the right place as there was a ‘Local History’ corner and shared knowledge of local cafes to grab a bite to eat.

I’m surprised that the Baths are seen as ‘history’ of the past. They are making the history of the ‘now’ and the ‘future. The complex is large and beautifully constructed. It would be great to create an urban spa with sections for exercise, learning, bathing and treatments, sauna and steam room. The old city centre Eye Hospital has been refurbished and modernised wonderfully and I could see Moseley Baths taking step in that direction but accessible to the whole community. Recreating the new complex at Harborne but using urban regeneration to bring together the old and the new. What an opportunity and now is the time to invest!

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