News from Played in Britain

Golden girl Rebecca Adlington has the first word on historic swimming pools

February 4 2009

Golden girl Rebecca Adlington

Olympic double gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, who learnt to swim in the 1934 Sherwood Baths in Mansfield, has penned the Foreword to Great Lengths, Played in Britain's long awaited book on the history and development of indoor swimming pools.

On sale from this website from Monday, February 9, and from all good bookshops in the coming weeks, Great Lengths is the culmination of 25 years research by Dr Ian Gordon, who as medical doctor to the British Olympic swimming team was on hand to see Adlington win both her gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

'I suppose I must have swum in at least 40 or 50 swimming pools around the country,' writes Adlington, 'and like most swimmers there are some that I like and some that I don't. But if you have swum in one particular pool all your life then it does mean something to you. You always have a connection to that place.

'For me, Sherwood Baths in Mansfield Woodhouse is my special pool. It's only a two minute walk from where we lived. It isn't necessarily the best pool, but it's not just about that. I was four when my mum first took me, and both my sisters and I learnt to swim there. We sort of grew up there too, wearing the yellow and black colours of the Sherwood Swimming Club.

'I hadn't realised until Ian Gordon told me that it was built as long as ago as 1934 and that it was paid for by the local coal miners' welfare fund. I don't think there are any miners in our family but I'm grateful for what those men did.'

A former competitive swimmer himself, Dr Gordon, a general practitioner in Dorset, has long been fascinated by historic baths, ever since he first took the plunge at his local Victorian baths in Worthing. Since then he has swum in hundreds of old pools, making copious notes and collecting thousands of images, several of which are published for the first time in Great Lengths.

Co-written by Played in Britain series editor Simon Inglis, Great Lengths has been brought to publication thanks to the assistance of English Heritage's HEEP research fund and S+P Architects, designers of over a hundred modern pools, including London's Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Olympics.

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