Swimmer brings legal challenge to Hampstead pond charges

Christina Efthimiou, 59, a regular user of the ponds for the last four years, is seeking judicial review of the decision to implement a new charging regime from April 1.

She is disabled and claims to be among a group of swimmers who will be “priced out” of using the Kenwood Ladies Pond thanks to the change.

Ms Efthimiou says using the ponds is an essential part of managing her disability, and the benefits of cold-water swimming on health and wellbeing have been chartered in recent years.

“I have been swimming at the Ladies’ Pond for around four years”, she said.

“The benefits to me are immense and if I have to stop using the ponds for my regular exercise I don’t know what I will be able to do instead.

“I and many others will be priced out by the charges which will change the ponds to a privilege for the better off.”

Ms Efthimiou, from Camden, is being supported in her judicial review bid by the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association (KPLA), which says it has been in discussions with the City of London Corporation about a fair charging scheme.

“The KLPA provided evidence to the City that the increased charges were having a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged swimmers and asked them to reconsider their charges for the 2021 season”, a spokesperson said.

“However, this was disregarded, and the City has increasingly sought to increase charges to swim, despite the onset of a pandemic causing great financial and mental stress to the local community.”

It was free to swim in the popular Ponds under 2005, and a charging regime that was then introduced was self-policed – allowing those who could not afford the £2 fee to continue swimming.

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