Galston Aquatic Centre
4pm Tuesday. $5.50 entry.
What a LONG trip. Galston is really far! I also chose particularly inclement weather for this one, so maybe it felt longer because of the difficult conditions.
I also only had 25 minutes to swim my laps before all lanes were consumed into swim school activities. There was already an enormous amount of activity in the pool, and no spare seats to put my bag on - all taken up with adults either watching on playing with their phones.
The water itself was lovely, a very thin black line. I didn’t get any photos in really, it was all a bit too much and there were just so many kids and adults and parents around that I didn’t feel comfortable to document.
Free showers, but quite small change rooms.
Obviously a well used centre, evidenced by the complex info-web of the whiteboard, I presume advising pool lane availability.
I also imagine this place would be all the more busy since Hornsby Pool shut at the beginning of the year. I was sad to miss that one, it has got to the end of its life and has been shut down permanently. Being one of the only other pools in the council area (as well as Epping - although it is a huge council area), I imagine it has picked up some additional patrons/activities.
Interesting article about the closure of Hornsby pool, and the decision to shut it on Christmas eve last year, not in the middle of winter etc. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/hornsby-council-close-down-hornsby-pool/
Cute story about an ‘aquathon’ (3 hour aquarobic class) planned to fundraise for autism - fabulous photo: http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/all-out-for-autism/
C&M Aquatic Centre, Condell Park
11am Thursday. $4 entry.
Not sure quite what to say about this pool, despite being indoors, it is the pool closest resembling a backyard swimming pool in my journey. This might have a lot to do with the fact it was 18m long, and that it had a wooden pool fence with gate.
I think they very rarely get public lap swimmers, it looks purely dedicated to swimming classes. When I phoned back up recently to ask about the cost of entry for this post, the woman on the phone very curtly and efficiently said they don’t offer public lap swimming - I don’t think this is as much a change of policy in the week since I visited (my phone calls before my visit were open to public swimmers) but more reflects the lack of interest in public lap swimming leading to inconsistent policy.
In my swimming, I ended up thinking about backyard swimming pools as I churned up and down (couldn’t be bothered keeping count of laps either). As much as I fantisise about my own swimming pool, I think it would be highly unsatisfying as a lap swimmer. Even 18m is so short, you can hardly get 10 strokes in before it is time to turn around. I think I’d use a home pool quite regularly, but I don’t think it would be for fitness or training.
Other interesting/notable things: no standard black/blue cross or distinctive tiles/markers on the walls at the end of the lanes, just white paint = many near collisions. Cute/naff poster of 100 ways to praise a child, I liked how none of the phrases were gendered ones = tick. Loved the old orange bauble+rope lane dividers. Also the big no bandaids in pool sign.
No website, only phone number: 02 9790 2403
Macquarie University Sport & Aquatic Centre
7.30am Tuesday. $4.80 entry (cheaper if you are a student)
Woah! Forgot about peak time! Totally peak time! Less in the water, but the changeroom was hell! I should have been prepared! It was a bit like turning a corner to find an impossible traffic jamm. So many women with their own person hair dryers - I actually had to wait to find bench space. When I returned after my swim it was much better, obviously by 8.15am people were getting their coffees and arriving at their desks - these people didn’t look like students as much as staff.
The swim itself was lovely. Such deep blue water! I loved the graduated blue tiling from shallow to deep end - its a pretty good trick to make blue water to use blue tiles! The water wasn’t too chlorinated at all, it was super pleasant. The deep end was at least 2m, in fact the pool was 2m deep by 25m in - pretty special.
I was confused by the four sets of bunting instead of the standard 2 - I must find out what the extra two are used for - serious stuff no doubt!
I like the white lounge-chairs pool side, it made me lust for an afternoon free and a cocktail by a pool.
There was another indoor 25m - lots more walkers there. Signs in the entrance indicated the outdoor pool was 28 degrees, the indoor one 31 degrees.
The bathrooms, apart from being hectic, had good showers with frosted glass doors and free hot water. They also had a slightly elevated area that was designated ’dry area’ - for dry changing only. Smart. Especially given the volume of people here - it would be nice to cultivate a safe dry clean patch amongst the chaos.
I imagine, as with all uni pools, there would be heaps of squad and lessons and water polo. It does say on the website though they are committed to always providing at least 3 public swimming lanes. Nice.
I notice on the pool website it says ‘The bulkheads will be in the 50m pool from lanes 4 - 8, Monday to Friday from 3pm till 8pm.’ I had to google that - of course! It’s what I used to call a pool divider! Another piece of technical language conquered! Lucky I didn’t go in the afternoon - 50m is so much better if not as efficient!
Hilarious advert for bulkheads: ‘don’t be let down in the middle of your pool’ http://www.starkbulkheads.com/
Pretty picture from the uni PR department - I also note the pool was built in 2007, and is FINA compliant: http://awc.alumni.mq.edu.au/s/1404/index.aspx?sid=1404&gid=1&pgid=352
Menai Swim Academy
7.30am Monday. $5.50 entry.
WHAT A HOT POOL! TOO HOT! Akin to that feeling of hot yoga!
It was a hot morning, so altogether too hot. Although right now I can’t think of anything more tempting than some hot water - given this coldness.
I had a great swim despite the heat. A small pool. 25m, only 6 lanes. 3 lanes were taken up with aquarobics, which is much earlier than your typical pool. Maybe there is competition for space with schools, it is term 4 swimming classes for schools. I lvoed the aquarobics instructor - I normally don’t pay much attention to the classes, but this lady was making heaps of sexy saucy jokes - there seemed to be a high level of familiarity/friendship amongst the group.
I almost ran into someone in my lane in my first couple of lengths - so habituated I am to having my own lane. I’ve become a bad sharer! What an adverse consequence of this project!
I was flanked on both sides by interesting characters. On one side were the 2 hyper-fit hyper-noisy olympic cap wearing swimmers - doing lengths with the equipment and gizmos but also chatting and gossiping at the ends. Their gossip was too technical for me to understand, it did sound rather like synchronised swimming shop talk! They did have nose pegs…
On my other side was an older lady making no secet of the fact that she was taking the aquarbocis class from across the pool so as to not pay/have space to herself. She and I got chatting, she said she often observes the class, and has picked up all the tips/techniques, free of charge no less! I told her about my project, and she started in with suggestions for pools I should visit - I felt like such a killjoy for having visited all ehr recommendations already! Cutely, she told me she met her husband at nearby sutherland pool. Cute.
Interesting pool markings, semi circles at the ends akin to a netball court really.
I also loved the sign in the change rooms - what does it even mean? I can’t believe it is still up despite so many of the letters having fallen away - fantastic! 20c showers.
9.30am Saturday. $4 entry.
I must say, I oscillated for many months about whether to count Richmond in my definition of Sydney. It feels like the edge of Sydney to me, the bottom of the mountains, the end of the train line. But it really was so far away. Popular surveying of friends and randoms erred on the side of yes, keep it in. So here I am! it’s a bit thin edge of the wedge though, what the harm in a little further up the hill to lithgow - right? At some point of got to give some hard edges to this phase of the project…
Regardless of my hesitations, I was so happy to have visited. I had the most delightful swim, overcast skies that teased with faint gasps of rain - my favourite. I had a lane to myself, and enjoyed the 50m stroke after a series of 25m indoor numbers.
There was a swimming lesson happening, and some patient watchers on, they must have been cold in the exposed seating, it was warmer in the water.
The tiles were fabulous, a more complicated pattern than your standard tiny squares in rows pattern. They looked pretty clean too. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the vintage tiling, I would ave thought the pool pretty recent - new filtration and infinity edges and newish diving blocks.
I loved the cultivated lawns around the pool - so lush and bindi free and green.
Good bathrooms, cavernous but well lit, free showers, although not many of them in proportion to the size of the change rooms. This is a seasonal facility, open sept-april each year. I think core business may be in summer holidays, and school business.
Most of all I loved the not permitted dive sign - far more explicit and prescriptive than most. In fact, I found it rather instructive - it gave me a solid explanation of what exactly a ‘horsey’ is - I had thought it was more someone climbing on another’s shoulders - shows what I know. In fact, when I saw the picture, I was tempted to have a go myself - it looks entirely farcical!
I had a nice drive out here - past some rather rural scenery. Amazing jacaranda village, and a brilliant set of op shops.
It is clear that council in around 2008 had considered closing the pool, instead it received government funding to refurbish - evidence of a community campaign: http://hawkesburyfirst.com/Richmond%20Pool/Richmond_Pool.htm
Northmead Aquatic and Fitness Centre
8.30am Thursday morning. $5 entry.
Predominately a swim school operation it would appear. Huge gym upstairs seems to be the main attraction. One of many facilities owned by Plus Fitness, some conglomerate of franchisee centres.
Water was fine, it was me and 3 ladies in the other 3 lanes walking and hopping and lurching. I think at 4 lanes this might be one of the narrowest pools I’ve been in. 25m pool, constant depth of 1.2m for entire pool. I liked how this was phrased on the signs ‘Pool Constantly 1.2m’ - guess it is the same thing. It was quite dark in the pool area - not much natural light. I guess when there isn’t much light the water doesn’t reflect - maybe in my head when there isn’t bright lighting (either natural or artificial) and therefore reflections/sparkles I feel like the pool is stagnant, dense and soup-like, leading me to feel more lethargic/negative about the experience. Interesting.
I didn’t take many photos as kids started arriving quite early for swim school. Yes, swim school season. For this reason the staff didn’t want to give me exact times for public lane swimming, you need to call the day before to check in.
Most interesting observation from this outing was the classic rules sign/centre policy sign. Along with the generic rules about children over a certain age being allowed in toilets of the opposite gender (whatever that means) was the ruling: ‘any child who is not fully toilet trained MUST wear a disposable aqua nappy and reusable Pee Cees. This is required to maintain water clarity and hygiene standard for our pools. Washable Pee Cees are available from reception.
WHAT IS A PEE CEE? Internet research since tells me that a Pee Cee is a brand of swimming nappy. But I can’t say it was even the easiest thing to find on the internet, so maybe a reference to an obscure brand of nappy not the best way of ensuring policy is adhered to!
Change room fine and free showers but very little changing area - I think many people might drive here and drive away to shower etc at home.
Mt Druitt Swimming Centre
4.30pm Tuesday. $4.30 entry.
Most life threatening swim thus far! Beware a severe summer thunderstorm in an outdoor pool! What risks I take! My favourite moment of the entire visit, and a tale I have been over-narrating ever since: a call over the loudspeaker came to evacuate the pool as the rain started to fall, flashes of lightening visible in relative proximity. It took a bit of cajoling over the microphone to alert people to get out, obviously someone asked something pesky like ‘but why?’ to which the announcer explained ‘cos if lightening strikes the pool you’re dead’. BEST EXPLANATION EVER.
This was but one moment of sheer bemusement I experienced. Another shock was the lack of lane ropes - only two (and my favourite old school single line rope with white (from faded orange) foam baubles and these were dedicated to after school lessons. So the other 6 wide lanes were free for recreating, and on this stinking of hot days, there were naturally MANY pleasure seekers. Another dedicated lapper and I tried to carve out a strip in the middle of the pool, but were constantly being thwarted by divers and dippers and floating devices.
The pool itself was pretty pleasant, SO refreshing after the humid heat and the whole centre, in and out of the water, was filled with an energetic buzz, that approach of a storm frenzy affecting us all. The water wasn’t the cleanest - but again, it was very busy. It might be an amazing pool to visit early in the morning.
However, on the hours of the day point, I did try to visit this pool the week before, not thinking to check that it might not open til 9am - obviously not so many before work power swimmers around. Heaps of grassed areas and kids play spaces, and a massive hot-chip-oil-smelling kind of kiosk.
Apart from the excitement of the evacuation, the other truly amazing elements of the space included to bathrooms and general signage. Fabulous painted ENORMOUS W and M for the change rooms. Interior of the change rooms truly terrifying, no lighting, all dark dark brown paint and tiling. Free showers though.
I now learn that someone I know has been commissioned by Blacktown Council to do a mural on the outer white wall of the centre. Ironically (maybe my community arts hat is too tightly secured at present) I had marvelled that there wasn’t already a mural on the wall! Although the old painted stick figure swimmer was so nice to see, an image from the past indeed.
Mt Druitt Pool Caretaker - such an amazing job! I want this job, imagine if I was the caretaker of a pool! http://mt-druitt-standard.whereilive.com.au/news/story/caretaker-farewells-37-year-mt-druitt-pool-commitment/
Fish-in - I’ve seen this elsewhere, before you drain/close the pool for the winter season you stop the chlorine, reduce the pH and let the algae build up, then add fish, often trout etc. Then people come and fish them out and win prizes: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/wet-a-line-in-a-pool-full-of-fish/story-e6freuy9-1225755708556
National Centre of Indigenous Excellence
8.30am Monday. $6.50 entry.
WHAT AN AMAZING POOL. This was truly an incredible swim in an incredible space. A beautiful new brilliant blue pool, bright cheery colours (orange again too I note), great change room, (although the one near the pool is toilet only, no shower), beautiful day, pool to myself. The whole complex is just over a year old and is designed to host and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in programs around fitness and wellbeing, arts and culture, innovation and education, built on the heritage former Redfern Public School.
The water was brilliantly blue, a bit cloudy, and increasingly sparkling as the sun moved from behind the gym part of the complex. I can see it being seeringly hot come mid-summer, and the grassed platform framing the outer edge of the pool wasn’t shaded at all, but for now, a spring morning, it was perfect.
Infintity pool edges and a slightly raised platform at the deep end for diving (would need to be quite shallow as it isn’t very deep). I liked the tiling options here, white painted surface but black tiled lane markings of a shiny high gloss small black tile - classy.
Some tacky breakfast radio was the only complaint, most likely to keep the solo life guard entertained. I imagine there would be a roaring trade of swim school here too. I had a nice chat with the life guard, she was bemused my my project, especially as for this swim I didn’t push myself due to a neck injury, which probably made it seem farcical to her that I would go to all the effort to swim in every pool in sydney to only really flop about/do 20 laps.
Apparently the pool is also used for sport training, I think some kind of rugby/football. The complex has many other delights: a ropes course, gym, sports stadium and field, arts and craft space, meeting room, IT lab and a creche! The sports complex is next to the old heritage redfern school buildings, which have been redeveloped into residential space for camps, learning centres etc.
Nice arty photo of the pool with the goosebumps: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/5983070822/in/photostream/
Sydney Academy of Sports and Recreation Aquatic Centre, Narrabeen
7.30am Thursday. $5 entry.
I’ve been to this complex before, not the pool which is pretty new and flashy, but to the athletics track directly behind the pool. I remember an athletics carnival there once, and a school camp involving abseiling.
Favourite 2 things about this place. That I had to hunt down the life guard on duty to give my 5 bucks entry fee. Obviously not their primary business swimmers like me. Other favourite thing was the gaudy wall photo of a beachside sunset in the tables and chairs waiting area, I presume for the parents and guardians of the prodigy athletes in training. I imagine there may be lots of waiting.
The pool was new and lovely. White rectangle tiles and ladders in and out. I had a lane to myself for the most part. Squad in two lanes although they cleared out halfway through my laps to be replaced by aquarobics looking people. The cheesy music was yet to start as I was exiting thankfully.
According to the website there are cold plunge pools and contrast showers as part of the facility, they weren’t in sight during my visit which is a shame as I LOVE a plunge pool. Guess I’m not a likely candidate for serious muscle conditioning or sports recovery.
Good bathrooms. Heaps of natural light, free showers, clean surfaces. Free showers.
The one life guard seemed to be studying at a trestle tab;e by the pool during my visit. There seemed a high level of chatting between other people coming and going. I was told when I phoned that the pool was only open 7.30 - 10.30am each morning for local residents/ Obviously they didn’t regulate the local resident bit but I wonder if that may be the case that there are a bunch of regular locals - at least that was my vibe. The area the pool is in, on the Narrabeen lake, is pretty out of the way - long roads tunneled in bushland to get there.
Tony Shaw’s Swim School, Toongabbie
8am Wednesday. $3.50 entry.
Well, an interesting swim. I think I can safely say that I will never come back to this pool. Recently (and largely propelled by this experience) I’ve been rethinking my head strong decision to visit EVERY pool in Sydney, even those who are primarily private swim school pools with limited public swimming access. And that maybe it isn’t fair for me to apply the same judgement or criteria to a pool like this than to a council run mega-facility with resources and staff etc - it is a bit apples and oranges. This pool is clearly serving a purpose and is a family business and probably doesn’t need my upstart criticism. However yet again I am reminded of the temporal nature of my project, perhaps I caught the pool on a bad day, perhaps the very hour before my arrival it was a completely different landscape.
That said, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. It wasn’t very busy when I was there, I was the only non 5-year old in the water. The photos largely speak for themselves, although they are somewhat blurry (perhaps in my rush to end the experience).
The pool itself was once maybe painted white, but now, yellowed and worn away pool surfaces, almost resembling an ocean bath/pool. I did love the thin black pool markings, the thinness of them seemed so stylised. There was no apparent filtration or drainage system, the pool just looked like a concrete hole sitting inside a hangar with limited light. In fact, the limited light reflected off the water enough to see a filmy, oily sheen across both pools, with bubbles/suds collecting in the corner of the smaller kids. Maybe all pools have this, only the low lighting in this space reflected the sheen perfectly.
There were also no visible ladders or steps out of the pool = awkward heaving and flopping onto the concrete pool landing. Fine for spritely young children perhaps but not fine for me.
The bathrooms. Free hot showers but pretty grimey, I could possibly have seen a little crawling animal but I’m not sure.
No public swimming on the weekends, and during the week 7am - 2.30pm then 7pm-7.45pm.
It appears they are building a new website live: http://www.wix.com/l2swim/tony-shaws-swim-school
The only web presence for Tony Shaw’s - the most ridiculous article I have ever read, in fact I still can’t believe this exists in the world (although it is local newspapers). A father has withdrawn patronage of the pool after the pool refused to give his daughter a new swimming cap free of charge ($4.50) with the cheesy heading: ‘dad puts a cap on swimming bill’: http://parramatta-advertiser.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dad-puts-a-cap-on-swimming-bill/
Camden War Memorial Pool
3pm Sunday. $3.00 swim - bargain!
Of all the pools bound by the loose and amorphous boundaries of Sydney as per my definitions, this could well be the furthest. My brother, who I dragged along with the promise of a swim on a sweltering day, rightly suggested that it was really an invitation to go driving with a swim in the middle. It is a long way, and Camden at times does feel a little rural.
So much recreation was happening here! I had to work hard to preserve my lane for dedicated lap swimming, there were so many kids bobbing all about in the water. It is clear that this facility is valued and in demand, with such a good and cheap entry price it means families and groups can hang about for the day, well evidenced by the picnic blankets and camping chairs and so many people dipping in and out of the water in between sun baking and hanging around.
Water quality - cloudy. But that must have more to do with the patronage of the day and the amount of bodies in and out of the water.
Recent renovations ($5.3million upgrade according to the internet) that were opened in March 2011 make this place shiny, could be the newest feeling pool I’ve visited yet. All the hallmarks of the latest in modern swimming pool design were present: ramps, complicated mechanised wet playground, mural (but not graffiti art cos that is passe), orange paint (bright orange really is in with the pools - narrabeen, enmore, stanhope), infinity pool edge/drain, white painted pool surface replacing tiles etc.
Interesting murals along two whole walls, lovely representations of swimmers from bygone eras, recreating on what I imagine would be the Nepean River, and then the first Camden swimming pool. I’d be interested in reading more about the artist, Birgitte Hansen and the context of the murals, but alas it seems no-one is very good at doing promo.
Although on promo there is a cute video on the YMCA website: http://www.ymcasydney.org/centre/camden/
Noel Martin Sports and Aquatic Centre, Sydney University.
5pm Friday. $6.50 entry.
Normally I wouldn’t swim at this time in an inner city pool so as to avoid peak hour mayhem. But because it was Friday - no worries!
I used to swim here everyday during my lunch break as I worked directly behind the centre. It was such a calming and wholesome thing to do in the middle of a work day, and ever since I left that job, I lament the lack of proximity to a pool and the swim-in-an-hour ease. As such, I have fond memories for this pool.
The pool is oft used for water polo like most uni pools, so is lovely and deep for two-thirds of the pool. Here, the pool lane approach is that of double lanes for slow and medium swimmers. I am such a fan, in this context. I’m so unhabituated to swimming with so many other people that at least having a double lane means overtaking/regulating speed is feasible and easy.
Swimming lessons were in full swing, or more like squad or something. Lots of parents watching on, from the carpeted tiered seating framing the pool. Too many people around to take too many photos.
The water always looks very blue here. They did a renovation a couple of years ago to increase the window area into the pool, and ever since, it feels so airy and breezy for what is really a pool in a pretty small space. They also built a new roof, that does such an amazing job of reflecting the blue of the water. Due to the shape of the windows, thin slits of strong spring sunlight hit the pool like rays, moving across the water over the duration of my swim. Swimming through the rays, and catching glares of the sun on the turn of my head, I felt so stimulated by the strong sun in the water. The water was also exceptionally clear.
Showers are free, change rooms adequate but I’ve known them to get very full, with swimmers and gym goers and squash players.
Sydney Uni normally charges an annual membership rate on top of any prices to access the facilities, and I think theoretically you cant use the pool/centre without membership, which from memory is $55. However I just rocked up and asked for single pool entry, and it wasn’t an issue. Always worth a go I reckon, it might be one of those discretionary things that is contingent on the staff member.
I note proposed for further expansion with an additional 25m pool: http://sydney.edu.au/facilities/projects/sac/expansion.shtml
Just found out that a LGBTIQ swimming club is based at this pool, Wett Ones. An entertaining thought if I ever wanted to some training. The website has some interested stuff about pool etiquette and training terminology: http://www.wettones.org/swimming-training/#Ettiquete