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'Tis the Season to … Half-Price Swim?


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It can be hard to keep fit over the festive season: chocolate advent calendars every morning, turkey dinners, booze and mince-pies, plus the subtle desire to make this year’s celebrations three times bigger than before, to make up for the lack of excitement last year.

Back in the summer, I was running three times a week. But, after a particularly strenuous half-marathon, I thought I’d take a break from running. Then the nights drew in, the cold wind blew, and now the last thing I want to do is pull on my trainers to pound the frozen streets. But how to stop the bulging belly of Christmas?

Fortunately, the Students’ Union has a solution: At this cold time of year, when limbs aren’t limber and the outdoors is arctic, it’s the perfect time to get into swimming. And the SU offers half-price swimming for students!

All you need to do is visit the SU shop, use the self-service machine to purchase a swim-ticket, take your receipt to the counter and collect your voucher. Then you have two choices where to use it:

Crown Pools is Ipswich’s largest pool, part of the town’s main leisure facilities. It has a family-friendly wave pool with slides (but sadly, no adult flumes), a small, warm teaching pool, but for exercise, you’ll want the 25 metre competition pool. The changing facilities are modern, clean and fully accessible. I recently discovered that the pool has a little-known sauna and steam room, tucked away behind the deep end of the pool. 20 minutes in either of these will help to warm your wintry bones and soothe your sinuses, and it’s all included. Always check the times of public swimming sessions as the pool is often used for swimming lessons and galas, but it’s generally open. There is also a swim shop on site in case you forget your goggles.

The other alternative is a little harder to access as it is almost exclusively used for school swimming lessons. Fore Street Pool is Ipswich’s second pool and is a lot more retro. The rows of changing cubicles alongside the pool hark back to 100 years ago when this pool was opened. Tastefully restored, the glass ceiling allows views of the sky as you swim, giving the feel of a lido to this rather narrow pool. Fore Street is only open to the public early in the morning, for an hour at lunchtime and late at night, but it is worth a look and is the closest pool to campus.

There are, of course, other sporting activities you can access through the Students Union, and always remember to check on the SU Sports website. Don’t forget the free table-tennis table, and pool table in the union, which are also a great way to burn off those mince-pies and chocolate reindeers.

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