Yesterday marked the end of the season at Shoalstone Pool. It seems to have come round far too quickly, especially with this gloriously warm September. But it has been a fabulous few months, and I think we can safely say we made the most of the incredible facility we have on our doorstep.
It feels like a very long time ago that we were doubting whether the pool would even open this year at all: when there were still wranglings with Torbay council over funding and the fallout from their ill-omened deal with a local dive company.
Since then we’ve been there as often as we can. Arthur’s swimming has come on in leaps and bounds: back in June he was still holding on to us as we took those first dips in the then icy water.
But then came his float suit, and with it a whole new lease of life. He loves the independence it has given him, and confidently navigates himself around the pool as we hover nearby.
It’s been fantastic to see the pool so busy over the summer holidays – kids learning to swim or splashing about under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards, adults doing lengths with a look of bliss on their faces, locals and tourists alike enjoying the safety of the enclosed pool whilst still getting the invigorating benefits of the seawater.
I reckon we’ve toughened up quite a lot over the summer. The water has actually been pretty warm at points – well, for the UK anyway – but even recently, when our miserable August weather cooled it back down, it’s actually started to feel quite amazing. I certainly don’t flinch so much when I’m walking in with Arthur…
And of course the location is all but impossible to beat. When he’s not in the pool itself Arthur has loved gazing over the wall to the sea, watching boats or fishermen and even catching the odd glimpse of our local friendly seal.
With a summer like this, it was apt that our final swim of the year should be particularly special. We were determined to get down there yesterday but as so often the day ran away with us and it was almost five o’clock by the time we were walking out of the door. As we approached the pool it became clear that it was an especially high tide: the sea was lapping over the wall by the deep end, and even the shallow end was not particularly shallow.
Although it was a gorgeous afternoon the water was rougher than usual, and we did wonder the wisdom for a moment of taking a toddler in for a dip. We needn’t have worried though: Arthur of course took it in his stride, loving the novelty and the sense of occasion and happily swimming along beside his daddy.
He ventured out on to the ‘poolside’ too, splashing through the water to take a peek over the sea wall.
As the sun began to set and the tide continued to rise, it was almost as if the sea was reclaiming the pool for another year. As the summer fades and autumn turns into winter those sea walls will be battered by storms, and we will marvel that we ever swam in sunshine there. Shoalstone Pool is such a very precious place, and I cannot wait for it to be reborn again next year.
To find out more about the pool and how you can help support it go to www.shoalstoneseawaterpool.co.uk.