Grand finale of 1000 Year Swim

Last week Dr Ian Dungavell successfully completed his challenge to visit all of the listed Victorian and Edwardian pools still open for public swimming in England and swim a lap for every year each of the buildings has been standing. His last port of call was Dulwich Leisure Centre in South London.

Photo: Dr Ian Dungavell completes his 1,000 year swim challenge at Dulwich Public Baths. Photo Credit: The Victorian Society.

Photo: Dr Ian Dungavell completes his 1,000 year swim challenge at Dulwich Public Baths. Photo Credit: The Victorian Society.

In a bid to highlight the importance of historic public swimming pools, our Director, Dr Ian Dungavell, finished his epic task, which has seen him swimming a distance of 22 miles, on Friday 29 August with 116 lengths at Dulwich Leisure Centre. Built between 1890-92 by Spalding and Cross, the Grade II-listed building still retains many of its original features including its cast iron balustrade in what was once the main pool hall.

‘Dulwich Leisure Centre was a great place to finish the 1000 Year Swim,’ said Ian. ‘With Southwark Council pledging £5 million towards the refurbishment of the pool, it’s very exciting to think that this historic community building will be open and available for local people to use for many years to come. This is exactly the sort of investment that Victorian and Edwardian pools around the country need if they are to continue to be a source of pride. We congratulate Fusion Leisure Centres and Southwark Council on securing the future of this historic pool and hope councils around the country will take note.’

Dulwich Leisure Centre marked the final leg of a challenge which began with 104 laps at Bramley Baths in Leeds on Thursday 24 July. Swimming a total of 1543 laps at fourteen pools over the summer, Ian has covered a distance more than equivalent to crossing the Dover Strait of the English Channel.

‘It’s been a tough but fabulous experience,’ continued Ian. ‘The swim has taken me to some of England’s best-loved local landmarks and hidden gems. Along the way, I’ve met many people who are passionate about the future of Britain’s Victorian and Edwardian pools and the opportunity they give everyone to immerse themselves in living history. We must work hard to ensure that adequate funding and expertise is available to keep our remaining historic pools open to everybody for many years to come.’

For more information about the 1000 Year Swim, please visit or call 020 8747 5897

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