TODAY Hinksey Outdoor Pool is celebrating the beginning of the new season with an open day, giving free entry for all swimmers after 2pm.

Yesterday saw the pool open for the first time since September last year, and – despite the grey weather – swimmers were keen to dive in.

Stephen Gardiner and Mark Bell were some of the first in the pool, to train for the Blenheim Triathlon in June.

Mr Gardiner, 35, said: “We have to swim 750 metres in the lake at Blenheim Palace as part of the course, so this week I’ve started swimming training.

“I was worried it would be very chilly, but the pool is heated so it was fantastic. Even getting out wasn’t too bad.

“I am very aware that the lake will not be heated, though.”

The Headington resident said: “This was my first time at the Hinksey pool, and it’s great. It’s longer than a normal pool so there’s lots of room.”

His colleague, fellow patent attorney Mr Bell, said: “I always enjoy swimming here, it’s so much nicer to swim outside.”

While Mr Gardiner is hoping to avoid the crowds, Mr Bell, 33, aims to take his 18-month-old twins Alistair and Esme.

He said: “They’ve done water baby classes inside, and if the weather picks up I’d like to take them to Hinksey pool.”