Swimmers enjoy Beckenham Place Park lake as it reopens post-Covid-19 closures

By Anna Aguilar
July 28 2020, 14.00

Swimmers have been safely enjoying Beckenham Place Park lake since it reopened earlier this month.

Lewisham Council has put in place Covid-19 safety measures and visitors must now pre-book swimming slots and respect social-distancing rules.

Only 60 people are allowed in the lake at a time, but the lake has so far been much quieter than last summer and people have had no difficulties booking slots.

Reagan Case, 27, said: “I felt incredibly safe, everyone kept their distance and stuck to their groups.

“It felt so nice to be able to get down there and have a bit of freedom. The park and lake are beautiful and it’s nice we can enjoy these things in the out and open safely.

“Since lockdown I’ve been going to more parks instead of pubs and will be making Beckenham Place Park a regular visit.”

The water was 20°C when it reopened on July 13, according to PTP Coaching, the organisation that operates the lake.

Although that temperature might be icy for most, it was a warm welcome the winter swimmers like Shea Hollis, who are used to dipping in lows of 6°C.

Ms Hollis said: “I swam at the lake throughout the winter and was desperate to get back in after lockdown to wash away the cobwebs safely.

“We had to wait a while for the lake to reopen, but it was well worth it as safety measures have been stringent and well thought through.

“The lake itself is the same inviting joy it has always been. There is a new fenced changing area with an open roof replacing the little gazebos, although users are encouraged to come ready to avoid lingering.

“All we need now is a solution to the metal fence and it will be perfect.”

The metal fence surrounding the lake was set up last summer, after parents complained the sudden depth changes in the lake were dangerous for young children.

This was highly controversial at the time, as the local community argued on the extent to which wild swimming should be regulated.

Lewisham Council temporarily closed the lake, which was previously open and free to enter, and reopened it with a fence and entry fee to pay for lifeguards.

Although unpopular at the time, these measures have helped to ensure Covid-19 measures are maintained.

Outside open hours, the lake is monitored by CCTV.

The effectiveness of the CCTV has been questioned, however, as park visitors have denounced multiple groups illegally in the lake precincts outside of open hours.

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