Wales National Pool

Frustrating summer evening swim at the end of the M4

Frustrating summer evening swim at the end of the M4

Summer has arrived in the UK! It’s hot in the South West tonight, I’m in Cardiff tomorrow, and as it’s such a fantastic evening, decide to keep driving to the very end of the M4 to visit the Wales National Pool in Swansea. Heading up the M5 from Clevedon, the sat-nav is warning of a 116-minute traffic delay on the bridge across the Bristol Chanel into Wales, not wanting to waste a sunny evening in traffic, I decide to abandon the trip and head north and hopefully catch a swim at the Droitwich lido. But as I near the M4 turn, the sat-nav offers an alternate route with almost no additional drive time, so Swansea is back on!

Unbelievable, being Welsh, this is my first ever trip to Swansea, I always pictured it as being a South Wales industrial town, how wrong I was! Following directions to the pool, the road passes along the Swansea bay beach, packed with what I assume are students from the local university. The pool is just a turn off the far end of the beach.

The Wales National pool (or Pwll Cenedlaethol Cymru in Welsh) is a 50m, not quite Olympic spec pool (Only 21m wide), one of only two 50m pools in Wales. The pool opened in 2003 and forms part of the Swansea University sports centre.

I’ve already checked the session times and am confident there is a public lanes session, with the pool in 50m configuration, starting at 8 pm. Time for a quick change out of the work shirt and into shorts in the back of the car and in we go! Pay the very reasonable £4.80 entrance fee, not the ‘old £1 coins only’ locker notice in reception and head to the ‘changing village’.

Out onto the pool deck and pleased to see there are several free lanes, there is also a training pool at the head of the competition pool, this must be 21m as seems to be the equal width of the main pool. It’s a separate body of water and not boom divided, so this could count as a second pool tonight!

Jump in and make a start. The water is perfectly freezing, and the pool with its moveable floors is set to a proper 2m depth. Notice two things almost immediately, the water is cloudy, decent visibility is 5 metres max, and I’m having problems with my breathing! I seem not to be exhaling fully or quick enough. Run through 400 metres then need to rest! Probably just down to (lack of) fitness, I’ve been on jury service for the past two weeks and expected to swim daily, as it happened I managed to swim once!

Soldier on with 50’s to complete the required 1km but wow, what a struggle! Jump out for a few minutes to see if I can catch my breath and complete the quick 1km in the warm-up pool, but decide better to grab some food and rest up and try another pool tomorrow.

Swim Stats

  • 1000 meters total swim
  • 1:27 pace / 100m
  • Garmin Swim Watch



Great pool, serving the South-West Wales area, I expect this draws swimmers from quite a distance. The pool deck and changing are mainly clean and well specified, water quality seems clean, but visibility was awful! Again such a shame for a pool built in the last 20 years that it's not a FINA standard Olympic spec pool, does it matter? Maybe not but with such a large spectator capacity, there are increasing opportunities to host big-ticket swim meets like the new International Swimming League.

Pool Details

  • Length 50 meters
  • 8-lane pool
  • Indoor

Wales National Pool
Sketty Lane, Sketty, Swansea, Wales, SA2 8QG, UK

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