Taking the plunge to launch a new season

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THE official opening of the Pells Pool 2012 season takes place tomorrow (Saturday).

The popular Lewes venue, now its 151st year, is the oldest freshwater outdoor pool in the UK.

The traditional big splash, as swimmers leap en-masse into the spring-fed waters, takes place after the doors open at noon.

Tomorrow also sees the official unveiling of the new mosaic made by pool-goers in 2011 to celebrate 150 years since the pool first opened in 1861.

The new Mayor of Lewes, Cllr Mike Chartier, is expected to be on hand to lend a ceremonial note to the day – fitting since the pool receives financial support from Lewes Town Council.

More than 100 people have already enjoyed the refreshing waters of the Pells, as the first swim took place on Saturday when the pool opened its doors for the summer season, which continues until September 9.

“The sunny weather really brought out the crowds,” said Pool Manager Phil Ransley. “This was one of our best first swims – we had queues at the gate at noon, with people eager to get in.”

The pool temperature which started at a bracing 14 degrees, had reached 18 degrees by the end of the weekend, as the sun warmed up the waters.

But swimmers weren’t deterred. Martin Porter who was there on Sunday, after a walk in Ashdown Forest, said; “The cold water is half the fun. Can’t beat that gasp when you first dive in!”

The final touches to getting the Pool ready for the season had been done the previous weekend with a well-attended Volunteers’ Weekend on May 5 and 6.

Dozens of people helped with cleaning, painting, and weeding, while the pool started to be filled from its local spring-water supply.

“We continue to make improvements each year,” continued Phil. “The pool now has two new outdoor cold water showers, so that people can rinse off before getting in the pool, helping keep the water clean and fresh.”

Phil had also been hard at work earlier in the year, giving the toilets block a thorough spring clean and new coat of paint.

Next on the refurbishment agenda for the pool are the changing rooms themselves – which is being discussed with the town council.

The Pells has kept the prices fixed for the third year running – with daily admission £4 for adults and £2 for children, or season tickets £68 for adults, £39 for children and £152 for a family.

The pool has also introduced a new system of coloured wristbands for a day’s admission, so people can more easily come and go from the pool and make use of the all-day admission.

Other plans for the 2012 season include an evening gig by Tongue and Groove, which is always a spectacular highlight of the Pells season, on Saturday, June 23.

The regular under-fives group, Pells Paddlers, takes place this season on Tuesdays, at 10.30am.

You can find out more about the Pells Pool, including daily temperature updates, from the Facebook pages on www.facebook.com/pellspoollewes