Dogs in the UK are taking the plunge

A little movement of the nose, a push of all four paws

Dogs in the UK are taking the plunge

A little movement of the nose, a push of all four paws... and splash. Dozens of dogs enjoyed the joys of an outdoor swimming pool with their owners on Sunday in the south of England.

Held over four weekends in September, these dedicated sessions mark the end of the season at Saltdean Lido, a 1930s art-deco swimming pool not far from the coastal town of Brighton.

Go fishing in the big bath or slide down the slide in the small one, the dogs, of which the British are great lovers, enjoy the joys of what presents itself as the biggest canine swimming session in the United Kingdom .

Called “Dogtember”, the event is “probably the craziest of the ones we organize”, explains Deryck Chester, director of the company which manages the site.

Around 8,000 visitors – whether they have four or two legs – are expected this year.

The event brings together dogs of all kinds, but certain sessions like the "gold rush" are reserved for golden retrievers.

There are the spirited, the cautious, here we come across a poodle with white curls, a dachshund with a bell.

Ziggy, a cocker spaniel cross, came with his owner Kelly Wilkinson.

“He loves swimming, we take him here so he can have fun,” she explains to AFP.

Vinny, an eight-month-old puppy, seems a little "out of his depth" and is staying on the edge for the moment, notes his owner, Jeff Stanbridge, "but he loves to run around with the other dogs."

Jenny Knight is participating for the third time in the event, which this year runs until October 1st.

“We try to come every year”, “it’s a bit of a paradise for dogs”, she enthuses.

The event also helps raise funds for the restoration of the venue, which opened in 1938.

The pool had to close in 1940 due to World War II, during which it was used as a water supply for firefighters.

After the war, the changing rooms inside the ocean liner-style building were used for services and religious education.

The Lido reopened as a swimming pool two decades later, in 1964, following a renovation.

In 2010, the lease holder wanted to redevelop the site, which resulted in the founding of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company.

The dog swims are in their sixth year and are on track to raise £60,000 (€70,000) this season, according to Deryck Chester, who runs the company.

“The income from the opening to dogs actually supports the opening to humans all season” and contributes to the restoration of the buildings, he adds.

Many of those involved are volunteers, who “believe in the restoration project and love the dogs,” he continues, emphasizing the sense of community that reigns here.

“I don’t know who benefits the most: the dogs, the swimmers, the volunteers, the humans, everyone has a smile on their faces.”

24/09/2023 22:36:26 -         Saltdean (Royaume-Uni) (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP