Of all the exotic places you could be paddling, front-crawling, and floating through chlorine water, a swimming pool in London may not be your first choice.

That said, London pools make a splash. For starters, you save yourself a plane fare. (Extra points if you squeeze some NEAT exercise in and walk there!) Plus, there’s a pool suited to every kind of swimmer; whether you prefer picking up the pace in the fast lane of an outdoor pool or getting pampered post-laps in the adjoining spa.

Swimming regularly is one of the best ways to stay biologically youthful – data from the American College of Sports Medicine Conference showed that regular swimmers have blood pressure and cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system and cognitive function comparative to someone much younger.

Moreover, a study confirmed that swimming is a low-impact exercise that will not put strain on your joints. Nevertheless, Menopause found that swimming led to increased strength and aerobic capacity in postmenopausal women, and reduced arterial stiffness and blood pressure.

So, if we've sold you on the benefits of swimming and you're ready to dive in, keep reading.

17 best swimming pools in London

We’ve rounded up the best 17 for you to swing by this summer. (If you're specifically after Lidos, scroll to the bottom, they start from #10.) All that's left for you to do is dig out your swimwear and slather on the SPF. Yes, really.

1. The London Aquatics Centre

Where? Stratford

Pool length? 50m

Listen, if the thought of honing your swimming strokes in the very same pool Rebecca Adlington won double bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games doesn't get you hyped up, we honestly don't know what will. Perhaps the diving boards, if you're feeling daring... if not, The London Aquatics Centre is just as good at ground level.

2. Repton Park

Where? Woodford

Pool length? 24m

Ok, it's not central but, trust us, it's worth the trip if you're tired of doing lengths in bog-standard surroundings. Repton Park's Virgin Active pool is in a converted cathedral so it's all stained glass and imposing archways. There's a steam room, jacuzzi, and sauna, too.

3. Pools on the Park

Where? Richmond

Pool length? 33m

Aesthetically speaking, the indoor pool area at Pools on the Park isn't exactly an oil painting, but it's plenty roomy, which we really rate. The outdoor pool is heated and surrounded by greenery, and there's a spa and fitness centre, too.

4. The Porchester Spa

Where? Bayswater

Pool length? 30m

Technically a spa, yes, but think less along the lines of plush slippers and eyelid cucumber and more, shall we say, down to earth? Bob between the swimming pool, plunge pool and, the star attraction, the Turkish baths, whilst you take in the charming 1920s architecture and the rowdy crowd at The Porchester Spa and Pool.

5. Balham Leisure Centre

Where? Balham

Pool length? 25m

You'll want to get some serious backstroke in at Balham Leisure Centre purely to marvel at the gorgeous vaulted ceiling. It's a light, bright and motivating space (unlike many indoor London swimming pools), and there's a steam room and sauna too. Consider us sold.

6. Golden Lane Sport & Fitness

Where? Barbican

Pool length? 20m

Perhaps not a pool for you if you're somewhat of a shy swimmer (the many windows make it quite exposed to passers-by), but Golden Lane Sport & Fitness' pool is bright, modern and central (tick, tick, and tick). There are allocated lanes for those seeking a water workout, and scheduled family swim times, too.

7. Marshall Street Leisure Centre

Where? Soho

Pool length? 30m

This one's a beauty, truly. The Marshall Street Baths first opened in the late 1800s. Two big renovations later, and we're lucky to still be able to swim beneath the beautiful barrel-vaulted roof of dreams. There are fitness facilities and classes, plus a steam room and sauna too.

8. Oasis Sports Centre

Where? Covent Garden

Best for? Paddling on sunny days

Pool length? 27.5m

With not one but two pools (one indoors and one outdoors), Oasis Sports Centre is a favoured Covent Garden spot of those in the know. The outdoor pool is heated for year-round use, and the sun terrace makes it an ideal place on days when British weather bucks up its ideas. It gets busy, so you might not manage many lengths.

9. Central YMCA Club

Where? Fitzrovia

Pool length? 25m

Smack bang in the middle of town – right by Tottenham Court Road, to be exact – you can swim before you shop or vice versa at Central YMCA Club. The multi-lane pool happily accommodates recreational and performance swimmers with slow, medium and fast lanes.

10. Camberwell Leisure Centre

Where? Oval

Pool length? 25m

Not one, but two pools to make waves in. Opened in 1892, one of the historic baths has been turned into a functional aquatic space. Whether it's a quick dip and splash you're after, or more focused strokes up and down the length of the pool, everyone of all ages can expect a good aerobic workout.

Outdoor Lidos in London

Here are our picks of the outdoor pools and lidos to make a splash in.

11. Brockwell Lido

Where? Brockwell Park, Herne Hill

Pool length? 50m

A South London staple, Brockwell Lido is an outdoor beauty. Unheated, it's not for the faint of heart – just because it's warm out doesn't mean the water will be! Pop to the café for a cuppa after.

12. London Fields Lido

Where? Hackney

Pool length? 50m

You might know Hackney for beautiful markets and Columbia Road flower piccies, but get ready to think of it as your go-to swimming spot, too. London Fields Lido is heated to 25ºC (perfect if you like an early morning dip) and is floodlit, so you don't have to worry about swimming in a straight line when the light is dim.

13. Parliament Hill Lido

Where? Hampstead Heath

Pool length? 61m

A wonderful outdoor (unheated) pool for North Londoners, Parliament Hill Lido has a few different ways to get involved. Between 7 and 10 am, the pool is "free flow" meaning you don't need to book a spot in advance. Then, until 5:30 pm, the pool becomes accessible only if you've booked into one of the hour slots. 6 to 8 pm, it goes back to "free flow".

14. Serpentine Lido

Where? Hyde Park

It's the oldest swimming club in London but, and we're sorry to say this, it's not available unless you're a member. Membership is currently closed but make sure to check back if you're keen to join the Serpentine Swimming Club and get your swims locked in.

15. Tooting Bec Lido

Where? Tooting Bec

Pool length? 91.4m

It's the largest outdoor lido in the UK, so if you fancy a challenge, head here. Located on Tooting Bec common (between Tooting and Streatham), slip into Tooting Bec Lido for a freshwater swim and then kick back on the green with a flat white or glass of rosé.

16. Charlton Lido

Where? Greenwich

Pool length? 50m

Tennis, gym, pool – there's not much to want for at Charlton Lido and Lifestyle Club. A part of the Better Leisure family, you can improve your strokes and make the most of the good weather with their top o' the line facilities. Hop on the DLR from Bank or it's just a five-minute drive from Woolwich or Blackheath.

17. Finchley Lido

Where? Finchley

Pool length? 25m

Another one for you North Londoners, Finchley Lido Leisure Club is a brilliant spot to get wet. If you're a newbie swimmer, there's a 'Learn to Swim' programme, designed to get you comfortable in the pool.

18. Kenwood Ladies Pond

Where? Hampstead Heath

The name kinda gives this one away, it's a pond rather than a pool but Hampstead Heath bathing ponds are where Londoners flock en masse come the summer. Separated into men's and women's, there's also a mixed pond open during the warmer months. Suitable for strong swimmers only, paddle here if you're confident in your abilities and want to swim amongst nature.

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