Swimming enthusiasts in Edinburgh were delighted to get back in the pool for the first time in six months, with one local grinning: “I can't wait to dive in... hopefully I won't sink straight to the bottom with all the pounds I've put on during lockdown”.
Six Edinburgh Leisure venues reopened their doors today (Monday, September 14), with strict safety measures in place to protect staff and customers.
Leith Victoria Swim Centre, Gracemount Leisure Centre, The Royal Commonwealth Pool, Drumbrae Leisure Centre, Craiglockhart Leisure and Tennis Centre and Ainslie Park are all back in business thanks to new lockdown-easing measures.
At Leith Victoria Swim Centre on Bonnington Road, June Peebles, chief executive of Edinburgh Leisure, said staff were delighted to be welcoming back customers.
“We're thrilled to welcome people back,” she said. “Here at Leith Victoria, we've had a really positive reaction from everyone who has come through the door.
“Everyone has a big smile on their face when they leave after enjoying their first swim in what must seem like an eternity.
“As you'd expect, we've made all the necessary changes to comply with the Scottish Government guidance, and all our efforts are focused on making our venues as safe as possible.”
The new safety measures mean all activities must be pre-booked, and all activities are timetabled with staggered session start times to reduce congestion.
There is safety guidance signage throughout the venues, and sanitisation stations to use before and after each visit.
“As for the pool itself here at Leith Victoria, there are double width lanes so people have a lot of space to swim and can avoid touching each other,” says June.
“For the changing rooms, we are asking people to come almost 'beach-ready', so they can quickly change before and after their swim.”
Among those who made a beeline to the iconic pool affectionately known as “Leith Viccies”, was John McGowan, 49, from Claremont.
Asked how it felt to be back at the pool, he said: “It's really great to be back after six months without being in the pool.
“It's good to be exercising again after such a long period of lockdown. It was quite tough after being out of the habit, though.”
Sarah Worden, from Stockbridge, was another visitor to the Leith Victoria pool, and, like the others, couldn't wait to get into the water.
“I'm so excited,” she said. “I couldn't believe how lucky I was, because I have a week off work this week – and today is the day the pool reopened!
“I literally went on this morning and booked a midday slot.”
Asked if she had any apprehensions on safety, Sarah said: “None at all. My only concern is whether or not I will still be able to do my usual 20 lengths.”
Garry Walker, 46, from Leith, was just entering the pool when he stopped for a chat.
“I am really looking forward to this," he enthused. “I can't wait to dive in... hopefully I won't sink straight to bottom with all the pounds I've put on during lockdown.”