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IF THE idea of a mid-winter dip throws up nightmare images of strange creatures sporting goose bumps and floral swimming caps on the Norfolk coastline, you risk missing out on no less than an "amazing experience", insist regulars at Covent Garden's unique outdoor swimming pool. Built in the late Thirties and owned by local authority Camden Council, the lido attracts committed winter water-babies who can be seen enveloped in the steam rising from their favourite fitness bolt-hole in darkness, rain, wind or snow. Luxurious protective foliage surrounds the pool, and for entertainment there are Tai-Chi master classes taking place on the sunbathing terrace above. Flood-lit by night and heated to a luxurious 31C, the pool is open to non-members for only pounds 2.50 a swim.

Oasis Sports Centre, 32 Endell Street, London WC2, 0171 831 1804