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Christmas Day swim at Crouch End’s Park Road lido goes ahead for first time in two years – after manager is hauled out of bed to open up

PUBLISHED: 12:24 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:53 27 December 2018

Hesketh Benoit leads carols at Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth Corney

Hesketh Benoit leads carols at Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth Corney

Archant

Hundreds took to the chilly water at Crouch End’s Park Road lido for the pool’s first Christmas Day dip in two years – but the manager overslept and was late letting them in.

Swimmers at the lido, Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth CorneySwimmers at the lido, Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth Corney

Scores of plucky swimmers gathered outside for the first of two 45-minute sessions as the advertised 9am start time came and went with no sign of anyone to open up.

The pool, which is run by the charity Fusion Lifestyle on behalf of Haringey Council, had sold 200 tickets for the now traditional festive swim. There was outrage as it was cancelled at short notice last year due to “technical issues”.

The lido opened for the year in May following a refurbishment over the winter months.

“The crowd grew to some 50 or more,” said one swimmer who gave his name as Rufus Stone, “all demanding the masochistic pleasure of this mid-winter swim.

Swimmers waiting outside Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth CorneySwimmers waiting outside Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth Corney

“The grumbles grew. One swimmer said his partner was waiting to be driven to church and he was worried he would miss his swim. Another mourned the Christmas Day lie-in he was giving up. A third lamented the management’s loss of face.”

Operations manager Adrian Williams was hauled out of bed and appeared apologetically at 9.20am.

And spirits were soon lifted when pool regular Hesketh Benoit – dressed for the part – began leading carol singing as the swimmers did lengths to work off the festive calories.

“I apologise for the delay in opening up on Christmas Day,” Mr Williams told the Ham&High. “I overslept and I can assure you this will never happen again as I do pride myself on being on time for everything I do.”

Hesketh Benoit leads carols at Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth CorneyHesketh Benoit leads carols at Park Road Leisure Centre on Christmas Day. Picture: Ruth Corney

The pool celebrates its 90th birthday in 2019. In the days following the last-minute cancellation of the 2017 Christmas Day swim, users told us lane closures, staff absences and technical problems had become “a constant source of irritation and frustration” there.

City of London Corporation, which runs the Parliament Hill Lido, held failed talks with Fusion about taking over in 2015. Fusion has full responsibility for repairs and maintenance at Park Road, and is contracted to run it from May till October.

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