The Arlington Baths Club

Posted: August 31, 2013 in Photography
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Constituting one of the comparatively few occasions when Flickr has affected my personal rather than professional life, I have – over the course of the last year – been learning to swim again. (Contrary to popular adage, it is not like riding a bicycle – which, coincidentally is another basic skill most people have mastered by the age of 6 that I learned at 23; and even then, only because it was the sole mode of transport available to me in Japan).

This has, in a very roundabout fashion, come as a result of seeing Tommy Ga-Ken Wan’s wonderful pictures of The Arlington Baths – Britain’s oldest surviving swimming club, founded in 1871. (Tommy’s other work is equally gorgeous and if you’re not already familiar with it, you should rectify that immediately.) These pictures held particular significance for John, who – when I showed him the photos – immediately recognised The Arlington as the place where he and his siblings had learned to swim back when his family were members. Within a few short weeks, John had resumed his membership after a two-decade absence and, work-permitting, now tries to go at least three times a week.

Said line of work being pathology, John is still morbidly afraid that my questionable aptitude in the water will one day lead to me ending up on his table, which is why we mutually agreed that I should take advantage of his guest passes and brush up on my buoyancy. I haven’t quite been able to justify a full membership for myself yet – though the Turkish Suite (pictured above) has made the prospect highly tempting – but I’ve nevertheless been attending every other month and, under John’s tutelage, am inching ever closer to the point where he’ll leave me unattended in any body of water exceeding six feet.

Health benefits aside, however, the undisputed highlight has been running into these amazing pugs on my way to the pool. I thought the one at the back might just be tired, but it turns out her tongue is literally too big for her mouth.

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