As a coastal resort, Bournemouth locals and visitors have scores of opportunities to spend a lot of time in and around the water. From our seven miles of golden beach to a vast network of harbours, rivers and waterways, Bournemouth is a water-lovers’ paradise. But if you’re more of a fair-weather water-wader, there are plenty of facilities around town to keep your swimming techniques sharp in readiness for a good British summer. From local authority facilities to private hotel and school pools, water parks to holiday retreats, Bournemouth is awash with ideas for all tastes and temperatures!
Public Pools in Bournemouth
Check out the facilities making a splash around town…
The Littledown Centre BH Live
The Littledown Centre opened in 1989 and is situated 4 miles north west of the town centre close to King’s Park. It has a 25 metre swimming pool, 17 metre teaching pool and two waterslides with splash pool. An adult swim ticket is £4.60, a 60+ swim £3.90 and children between 5 and 15 £3.50. Under 5s swim free. The Littledown Centre also offers swimming lessons with Bournemouth Swim School and hosts Swim Bournemouth, a development club for competitive swimmers. Children love the Wet and Wacky sessions held at weekends and over the school holidays, where the music is turned up and both pools are filled with inflatables, floats and fun toys. The Centre also runs water aerobics classes including Aqua Natal, hydrotherapy and lane swimming.
Pelhams Park BH Live
Originally built in 2005, Pelhams Park is a new acquisition for Bournemouth’s town council. Formerly Roko, part of a private health club chain, it’s situated in Kinson, 5.5 miles from the town centre. The now local authority facility boasts an attractive 20 metre main pool and smaller teaching pool and gives lessons to more than 800 learners from Bournemouth Swim School. Adults pay £4.50 per hour, while seniors, students and 5-15s pay only £3.20. Pelhams Park hosts Swim Fit and Aqua classes as well as baby and toddler sessions.
Stokewood Leisure Centre BH Live
Stokewood Leisure Centre occupies a grand 1930s building just two miles from town bordering the districts of Charminster and Winton. It provides swimming lessons via the Bournemouth Swim Academy and offers dedicated sessions for toddlers, adults and the over 50s including the popular Swim and Chill, where the lights are lowered and the pool area bathed in relaxing music. Prices are £4.50 for an adult swim, £3.20 for ages 5-15, students and 60+. Under 5s are free. The 25 yard pool is a great venue for ‘Wet and Wacky’ sessions, which see it filled with fun inflatables and floats. The centre also runs themed sessions including Fit and Fifty, Swim Fit and Aqua Zumba.
Further afield – public pools in Poole & beyond
Rossmore Leisure Centre Everyone Active
The 25 metre swimming pool at Rossmore Leisure Centre in Poole’s Parkstone district has a moveable floor, which makes it a multi-use facility, adjustable to the activity on offer. This fun swimming venue also features water cannons, a bubble geyser and an impressive ’aqua run’ inflatable assault course. There is a range of specialist classes for you to try including Swim 4 Fitness, Young at Heart (social for over 50s), Adult Gentle Swim, Family Fun, Disability Swim, Wet and Wild and Aqua Natal. General swim prices are £4.15 for adults, ages 5-15 and 60+ £2.20.
Poole Dolphin Leisure Centre Everyone Active
The main talking point for visitors to Poole town centre’s Dolphin Leisure Centre swimming pool is the tempting trio of professional diving boards (1 and 3 metre boards and 5 metre platform) over a dedicated diving ‘pit’. The main pool is 33.3 metres long and there is a ‘boom pool,’ plus a teaching pool for learners and little ones too. A swimming session costs £4.15 for adults, £2.20 concessions and activities include Swim 4 Fitness and ASA swimming lessons in the main and teaching pools. The boom pool, which separates the last 13 metres of the main pool into a leisure area hosts classes, parties and fitness sessions.
The Junction Leisure Centre (in Broadstone)
Situated 8 miles from Bournemouth town centre and 4 miles from Poole, The Junction has a warm 20 metre pool and packed activity timetable. In addition to general public swim sessions, you can go for lane swimming, Aqua Zumba, Over 60s Silver Swim, Aqua Fit and Aqua Babe sessions among others. Prices are £4.90 for adults, £3.40 for juniors and £4.45 for seniors. To improve your confidence and ability in the water, sign up for lessons – Rossmore offers junior and senior classes in groups or privately through the ASA-accredited Everyone Active swim scheme. Rossmore also offers some unique sessions like Swim 4 Confidence for people with disabilities, pool walking and even naturist swims!
Ferndown Sports Centre Places for People Leisure
Ferndown Sports Centre is less than 8 miles from Bournemouth town centre and 10 miles from Poole. It has a 25 metre, four lane main pool and a 17.5 metre teaching pool. Swimming lessons are available for children and adults, following the ASA Learn to Swim programme. Ferndown has an extensive selection of water activities ranging from Aqua Jogging to Hydrofit, to Aqua Circuits and also hosts a Swim4Health training programme for people who want to boost their health and wellbeing with the freedom and mobility of being in the water. Check out SwimTAG, a dedicated wristband you wear in the pool to charts your activity in calories burned, distance, time, strokes and more. Swim prices £3.85 for adults, £2.80 seniors and 8-15s and free for under 8s.
Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex (in Christchurch)
Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex is on the outskirts of Christchurch, 7 miles east along the coast from Bournemouth beach. It has a 25 metre main pool and a 12.5 metre teaching pool. Visitors can enjoy an extensive choice of activities alongside the public swim sessions including lane swimming, lessons via the ASA Junior Swimming Academy, Aqua Fit and Swim Fit classes. Adventure lovers will be thrilled by the huge aqua assault course (pictured). Swim prices are £4.45 for adults, £3.40 for seniors and £3 for children.
Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre (in Wimborne)
Situated on the outskirts of pretty Dorset town Wimborne, just 10 miles from Bournemouth town centre, the Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre boasts a 25 metre main pool running sessions like general and lane swimming, disability swim fitness, plus exercise classes including Aqua Fit and a Wet and Wild giant inflatable session for under 12s. Prices are £3.70 for adults, £3.20 for seniors and £3.10 for children. QE also runs a junior and senior Swim Academy following the ASA’s National Plan for Teaching Swimming and swim fit sessions to improve technique and develop fitness.
Swimming Clubs – join the club!
There are many learn to swim programmes around Bournemouth for people at all stages and ages. From tiny tots to seniors, disability swimming, schools and clubs, term-time to intensive holiday refresher courses, group sessions to private lessons, there will be a venue and a course to suit you. Many of the local public facilities follow the Amateur Swimming Association Learn to Swim programme and you will find countless other schemes hosted at many of Bournemouth’s impressive school and hotel swimming facilities.
If you want to develop your skills to competitive club level, Swim Bournemouth can help you realise your goal. Swim Bournemouth is based at a number of facilities: The Littledown Centre, Canford Sports Centre, Rossmore Leisure Centre, Stokewood Leisure Centre and Ferndown Leisure Centre. The successful squad was formed by combining the long-established Ferndown Otters and Bournemouth Dolphins swim teams in 2010, together bringing over 30 years of expertise and competitive success at county, national and international level.
History – swim the past!
Locals and visitors often reminisce about Bournemouth’s long lost swimming facilities. A prominent landmark in town back in the 20th century was the Pier Approach public baths, a grand venue on the promenade which opened in 1937 on the site of the previous century-old public baths. This 100ft x 35 foot facility was supplied with heated sea water and also featured a diving pool and Turkish baths. It remained open until 1985 and has since been the site of the controversial IMAX building, which was built in 1986 and demolished to public delight in 2013.
Some consolation for the closure of the Pier Approach baths was the opening of the Bournemouth International Centre, which featured a state-of-the-art beachside swim facility complete with waterslide and wave machine. The complex opened in 1984 but by 2004 the pool had been replaced with the Solent Hall conference venue.
Kinson swimming baths was a 10 metre district facility built in 1969 and demolished in 2010. Fortunately local residents now have the local authority-run Pelhams Park just a mile away but this gem in the heart of West Howe council estate will remain etched in the memory of many a north Bournemouth resident. It was unique in the fact that each end of the pool was shallow, dipping deeper (and without much warning!) in the centre.
Besides Bournemouth’s extensive public swim facilities there are many private venues available for hire and to host lessons and swim fitness classes. Being one of the country’s top seaside resorts, it is unsurprising a lot of these venues are hotels.
Hotels with pools
Some notable indoor pools include the spa facilities at the Highcliff Marriott, Bournemouth Hilton and Durley Hall. There are also a great number of outdoor pools all around the town, particularly on the overcliffs including the Suncliff and Cumberland hotels. If you’re camping, you’ll find swimming facilities at many of Bournemouth’s holiday parks too.
Schools with pools
Another source of more bespoke swim services are available in some of the town’s schools. Although numbers are depleting as these facilities are getting beyond repair you can still book a session at Moordown St John’s, Stourfield, Linwood and Canford schools among others.
Fitness & leisure clubs
Private fitness and leisure clubs are another way of finding a swimming pool in Bournemouth, although most will require you to take out a membership. Virgin Active, West Hants tennis club, Meyrick Park golf club, Eforea Spa and Health Club and Canford Sports Centre all boast beautiful swimming facilities with the level of luxury you might expect.
If you like your swimming with a shot of adrenalin, pop down to Splashdown in Tower Park, Poole. This dedicated watersliding park has 12 thrilling flumes, rapids and water play for all ages to enjoy. Thrillseekers will love plummeting through the Spacebowl and rocketing down the vertical drop of the Screamer while more sedate swimmers can lounge aloft a giant rubber tyre as they meander along the Mississippi Drifter. Under 8s can enjoy the Little Buccaneers splash zone while landlubbers watch on from the warmth of the Key Largo café.
When the sun is shining, take the kids for a good splash about at Quomps in Christchurch! This fun splash park is full of fountains, waterguns and streams to explore with thrilling water jets and pumps to soak unsuspecting observers. Bring a picnic mat or choose a comfy looking boulder to spread out your stuff and relax in the sunshine while the kids cool down. Quomps is set right by Christchurch Quay, giving it a beautiful backdrop of pleasure boats and water wildlife.
Redhill is a popular venue all year round with its large play park, lawn bowls, tennis courts and tea rooms. From Easter until the end of the summer holidays its large splash pool is available for wading around and cooling down. Grab your flippers and inflatable crocodile and dive on in! Don’t fancy it? There is plenty of room around the pool to set up camp in the sunshine and watch your little ones enjoy the water. If the blazing sun and the odd splash of water proves too much even for lounging, a tempting ice cream kiosk closeby.
The Littledown Centre has impressive indoor swimming facilities. But when the sun is shining, Littledown’s playpark in the beautiful gardens opens up a splash pool – great for cooling down after running / scooting / riding around the grounds. Smaller kiddies will enjoy splashing on the steps while bigger children can wade a little deeper aboard their inflatable animals and crafts. If you don’t fancy taking the plunge, there’s a convenient kiosk selling ice creams and hot and cold drinks just the other side of the fence.
Hamworthy Park is no stranger to watersports, with opportunities for sailing and new trend coasteering beckoning visitors in droves to its Poole Harbour / beachside location. But it’s also home to a vast splash pool, ideal for a refreshing wade or paddle. There are plenty of spots all around the perimeter to set up camp as the kiddies cool down.
Open Water Swimming
Bournemouth is packed with opportunities for enjoying the open water. There are even a number of open water and triathlon swimming clubs for plucky paddlers who don’t mind the less-than-tropical temperatures of the Solent in winter time! Check out the Bournemouth Spartans, a winter swimming club which meets every Sunday between October and April.
The highlight of the town’s open water swimming calendar is the White Christmas Dip, where plucky swimmers go from Pier-to-Pier in full fancy dress to raise money for charity.
Other open water opportunities around Bournemouth’s coastline are delivered by experts in kite surfing, kayaking, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding. Take on the very latest flyboarding trend or explore the coastline on a thrilling Jetski Safari!