London is swimming

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

There was an interesting overlap the other week between Time Out London‘s cover story, “Swim City,” about London’s “best pools, ponds and lidos,” and Polar Inertia‘s newest issue featuring beautiful photographs of abandoned swimming pools throughout the greater London area.

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

“Great pools?” Time Out asked. “From marble-clad baths dripping in history to modern leisure centres echoing with lifeguards’ whistles, London is swimming in them.”
Except, of course, many of its pools are also drained and forgotten.

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

The photos here are all by Gigi Cifali, who originally trained as a topographer, from a series called “Absence of Water.” The images document the disused pools of London – and there are many more of these photos to be seen over at Polar Inertia or on Cifali’s own website.

[Images: Photos by Gigi Cifali; view larger: top and bottom].

I’m reminded, though, of a great line from J.G. Ballard’s novel Empire of the Sun:

Jim watched Mr. Maxted sway along the tiled verge of the empty swimming pool, curious to see if he would fall in. If Mr. Maxted was always accidentally falling into swimming pools, as indeed he always was, why did he only fall into them when they were filled with water?

Why, indeed.

(All photos by Gigi Cifali).

12 thoughts on “London is swimming”

  1. I find it slightly annoying that you’re attributing all these examples to London… Victoria Baths is definitely in Manchester!

  2. This is all sublime, please, geoff, look at this artist’s website( , she dwells and works close to London, and specilises in painting Swimming pools among other things, abandoned and beautiful edifices such as Mussolinis Holiday camps, and English Lidos. In fact she is exhibiting in London at the moment, I really compel you to see her work, she is indeed for me one of the most exciting painters in Britain at the moment, my gosh it is true….She’s also a friend, so no byass there…

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