Published: 2023-09-24 21:49
Last Updated: 2023-12-08 16:02
Dozens of pooches on Sunday splashed around an outdoor swimming pool in southern England as part of the Saltdean Lido's "Dogtember" swim sessions for both dogs and their owners.
The event, spanning four weekends in September, marks the end of the summer season at the Saltdean Lido, a 1930s Art Deco venue just outside the seaside town of Brighton.
Dogs come to enjoy some aquatic fun such as fetching balls from the water or taking turns down a slide in a splash pool during what is said to be the biggest dog swim event in the UK.
"Dogtember is probably one of the most bonkers but most fun events that we operate at Saltdean Lido," said Deryck Chester, one of the directors of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, which currently holds the lease for the site.
Around 8,000 dogs and people from all over the UK are expected to take part over the course of the month, Chester added.
Dogs of all breeds are welcome but some events are also breed meet-ups such as the "Gold Rush" session for golden retrievers.
Kelly Wilkinson had come with her dog Ziggy, a cocker spaniel and springer spaniel mix, who she said is a "water doggy".
"He loves swimming so we bring him here so he can live his best life," she told AFP.
Jeff Stanbridge said his eight-months-old puppy Vinny was feeling a bit "overwhelmed" and staying out of the water for the moment.
"But he loves running around with the other dogs and it's a great thing to do I think," he added.
- 'Dog heaven' -
Another dog owner, Jenny Knight, said this is her third time coming to the event, which this year runs until October 1.
"We try and come every year because its fab, it's like dog heaven," Knight said.
The event also helps raise funds for the restoration of the Saltdean Lido, which first opened to the public in 1938.
The venue was forced to close in 1940 with the start of World War II during which it was used as a water tank for the National Fire Service.
After the war, the changing rooms inside the lido's main building -- resembling the front of a cruise liner -- were used for church services and a Sunday school.
It reopened as a swimming pool only two decades later, in 1964, restored by the local council.
In 2010 a former leaseholder wanted to redevelop the site but it was saved by the efforts of the local community, which led to the founding of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company.
Dogtember is now in its sixth year and is on track to raise over £60,000 this season, according to Chester.
"The income from the dog swims actually supports the human swims throughout the season" and contributes to the restoration of the building, Chester said.
He added that a lot of the people involved are volunteers, who "believe in the Saltdean Lido restoration project as well as being dog lovers".
"It's a really community-inspired atmosphere here," he said.
"I am not sure who enjoys it the most: the dogs, the swimmers, the volunteers, the humans. Everyone's smiling."