Sandford Parks Lido

Perfect outdoor UK lido in the heart of a beautiful regancy spa town.

Perfect outdoor UK lido in the heart of a beautiful regency spa town.

Another Clevedon > Home ‘stop off’ swim. The weather is fantastic, perfect for an outdoor swim so point the satnav at Cheltenham to experience the famous Sandford Parks Lido.

Leave the office, in brilliant bright sunshine at 4 pm, hope to arrive at the pool just after 5 and swim through the Friday evening traffic. Head North up the M5, it’s late May Bank Holiday weekend and the traffic on the southbound carriageway is stationary for 10+ miles, glad I’m not sitting in that! Reach the Cheltenham exit and find myself crawling through the town, conscious the pool closes at 7:30 pm and hoping to make a decent length swim (I’m attempting a 20km+ week to keep on track with the May 2019 T-Shirt challenge. Currently 4th!).

Arrive in the car park just before 6 pm - just as free parking kicks in! Make a quick change into the shorts and t-shirt in the back seat of the car (again!), and through the gatehouse style ticket booth we go. £6 paid and follow signs to the men’s changing. The sun is now struggling through the clouds, and the temperature is now quite a bit cooler.

The changing facilities are outdoor and arch around the edge of the park. The lockers need a token purchased from reception, keen to get on so fit everything in my Arena swim bag and head out through the park grounds to the pool.

The pool is 50m long by 25m wide, technically a full Olympic size pool, however, the uneven depth throughout is one of the probably several reasons it’s not officially classed as such.

The pool is split with four lanes to the far end past the fountain, find a place for my bag on the pool cover and make a more elegant than usual pool entry down the wide, sloped walkway. Oh boy, it’s cold, they make a big point of ‘heated’ outdoor pool on the website, not feeling it right now, take a deep breath and brave dunk. Pick a lane and make a start.

The water is very soft, and I quickly notice a charcoal taste, they must use this as part of the filtration process. The pool also feels slow, like swimming through treacle, but this is more likely my tired shoulders following a big week of swim sessions. I’m four lengths in and have to stop. I am so cold! What to do? Wanted to make this a 3km swim to keep up with the challenge leaders, but right now, I’ve pivoted to a ‘numbers’ swim, get the 1km done and back in the warm. There are now four swimmers in the lane, switch to quicker pace 100m sets to try and warm up. Reach 1,000m and, while still cold, decide to push on a bit further. 1.5km and I’ve now found the rhythm - and warm. Feel a full 3km is now possible.

Suddenly aware of freezing cold rain on my back as I pass the 2km point, it’s quite welcome now as my shoulders are starting to burn. This has to be the first time I’ve swum an actual session in the rain, really don’t mind it! Make a quick sprint back, remember my bag, with my clothes are out on the pool end, not sure how waterproof my Arena bag is (turns out very!), tuck the bag under the pool cover and continue.

Three kilometres complete, jump out and head back to the men’s changing ‘side’, I now find there is an indoor heated changing room, definitely heading there to get dry!

Swim Stats

  • 3000 meters total swim
  • 1:31 pace / 100m
  • Garmin Swim Watch



The park grounds and pool are beautiful, everything you would expect in the centre of Regency Cheltenham. The water is clean as can be expected for an outdoor pool set in parklands. The changing and general facilities are also clean and well suited to the facility setup.

Pool Details

  • Length 50 meters
  • 8-lane pool
  • Outdoor (Unheated)

Sandford Parks Lido
Keynsham Rd, Cheltenham GL53 7PU, UK

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