Fairfield Leisure Centre
7.30am Monday. $6 entry.
Another pool of the Fairfield City Council, another drama getting a ‘blue card’ (literally some blue cardboard) which is now my official ID for Fairfield council pools. I had to show drivers license and have a photo taken to get in, and then like at Prairiewood with the docket barcode entry gates. All a bit much really!
Unheated pool this morning, and still early enough for there to be frost on the grass around the pool. SO COLD! I don’t think my body properly warmed up the entire time I was swimming. I did feel pretty tough however, and completely exhilarated! There were 3 others in the water with me, one die-hard who I could still see in the water doing his laps/walking at least 20 minutes after I was out and showered, which means he was in there for at least 50 minutes!
A big digital clock at one end of the pool brought to my attention that I swim about a lap a minute - I got in at 8.00 and sure enough every lap corrsponded to a minute on the clock when I checked back. Not sure if the cold was making me swim faster or slower - will have to keep an eye out for big clocks to time again.
LOVED the little duckies around the pool, they looked like they were having some good fun in the little kids splash pool. The lap pool was lovely, tiny standard square tiles, but the flashy number was the black lane lines - little tiles but reflective and glossy with a bit of a pearl touch! A very strong current across the pool, from pumps me thinks - so strong that I kept getting buffeted into the lane rope, even when I was swimming in the opposite direction! What fun!
Inside pool was far more popular - loved the roofing. Steam room was too packed for me, and plus without a wristband it seemed for too risky here! The bathroom - what a story. The ladies bathrooms were being cleaned between 8.30 and 9am (odd time to be cleaning I would have thought - peak time no?) so we were all packed into the other bathroom down the gym end of the building. Far less spacious and far more crowded with ladies sitting and chatting - there were laptops out and people looking at photos! I wonder if this is a regular occurrence or a special reunion?
The outdoor pool is closing next week at the end of the school holidays so got to get in quick!
Love this article I found about the shower heads: http://www.thornthwaite.com.au/case-study-fairfield-leisure-centre.aspx
Pool parties! http://fairfieldcityleisurecentres.com.au/pool-parties.asp
West Pymble Pool
8.30am Friday. $4 entry.
Such a lovely sunny morning for a swim. This pool, in the middle of a recreation/bicentennial park, feels very idyllic, removed from major roads and traffic and surrounded by bushland and parks. The aspect of the pool, and the hill from the entrance down to the pool is lovely, I was enticed down to the pool and felt some kind of instantaneous calm here.
Not huge amounts of people, some older ladies drinking tea after their swim, they seemed to be regulars, actually, as did most of the people here. Everyone seemed very chatty, saying hi to me and each other in and out of the pool. Very white middle class politeness in this leafy north shore area! The gentleman I shared my lane with was keen to have convivial chats during lap breaks about weather and the swimming lesson occurring alongside us.
The water was so crisp - and despite the somewhat run down apprearance of the centre (built in 1969), the pool was super clean and must have been recently re-tiled. The lovely light blue rectangle tiles with dark blue rectangles as lane dividers. Similar to Parramatta and Granville - obviously in vogue. Two men were swimming in wetsuits - I guess to increase resistance training?
One swimming instructor seemed to be managing large quantities of kids with those floating worm things - her instructing tone and phrases are still in my head, and quick repetition seemed to be her favourite, eg: lookattheshylookattheshylookatthesky or legsoutstraightlegsoutstraight etc. Attentive parents (and I think siblings) were walking up and down the side of the pool following the class.
Nice to lie in the sun on the grass for a while for some reading action, so peaceful and easy to tune the world out.
Your classic new indoor leisure set-up proposed: http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/swimmers-likely-to-get-cold-shoulder/
Guildford Heated Swimming Centre
6.45pm Thursday. $4.40 entry.
I’ve been here quite recently, but only to shower, as it turned out. After a visit to Merrylands Pool was foiled by seasonal closure, I cruised down the rd to shower at Guildford here as I was heading to some meeting but didn’t have time to swim. Kind of them to let me in for a shower - although I did have to pay for the shower still.
Funny old pool. 2 x 25m pools, one indoor one outdoor. Radio BLARING throughout the centre from dicky old megaphones - and not even songs but some kind of painful talkback + ads.
Inside pool - heated to 27 degrees as declared by the digital clock on the wall. Shallow pool, cute little tiling. Lane to myself, only 3 others in the pool - a couple teaching each other to swim were fascinating. One life guard spent my entire swim high pressure hosing the painted cement around the pool = at least it dinned out the radio. Dated graffiti art adorns the walls, as do intense floodllights, and some great signage. Elevated balcony for spectators and life guards - good vantage point but a bit eerie too.
Outside pool. 1m at each end but dips to 1.5m in the middle of the pool. Strange. Stronger chlorine smell/taste in this one than the indoor one. Intense floodlights again, intense radio. Pool elevated off the ground by 3 steps - as if it were kind of floating. Loved the old school lane ropes - the string with floating foam baubles. Trough drainage in both pools. Worst ever access for both pools - ladders and steps cut in the wall - both ladders I used were rickety and hardly felt secured.
Loved the signage here. Some of the best - although I can’t tell if it was actually that good or if I am developing a heightened awareness of the excellent signage in pools.
Big grassed areas - would be lovely during the day I imagine.
Bathrooms a bit smelly - old mouldy, and 20c shower. Funniest sign in the toilets was over the changing cubicles (interesting to note no communal changing area at all - only cubicles with locking doors) that said ‘these are not toilets - use the toilets opposite the showers’ as if people went to the bathroom on the ground… maybe?
I noted another sign at the front stating that Holroyd Council is undertaking a feasibility study of the 3 pools in the LGA - merrylands and wentworthville too (both these are closed til October sadly). Interesting to imagine how divided the community would be over the closure of these pools when pitted against a new flashy leisure centre.
Funny article about feasibility study: http://www.ausleisure.com.au/default.asp?PageID=2&Display=True&ReleaseID=3427
Ripples Leisure Centre - St Mary’s
5.30pm Monday. $6 entry.
This is one of those epicentre leisure types - massive amounts of kids play areas and swim school activities and 25m indoor lanes as well as the outdoor 50m pool. The noise inside was intense, as was the smell of chlorine. The wet ground was particularly slippery, and I actually slipped in the change rooms.
The swim outside in the 50m was a strange experience. I shared a lane with a boy intent on diving around on the bottom the floor, and diving beneath me, as I tried to do my laps. The rest of the pool (8 other lanes I think, was taken up with squad training. I’ve finally realised the difference between swimming lessons and squad - with squad the trainers walk by the side of the pool as opposed to being in the pool with the students.
My lane was an edge lane, and the lifeguard was standing right on the edge of the pool, as was a mate of his. Whilst I could see a fairly vacant look in their eyes, it was still highly intimidating swimming past them up and back, and I couldn’t help but feel scrutinised.
Was lovely to swim at dusk again, it has been too long. Reflections on the water were so pretty, as were the deciduous autumn leaves floating around on the surface - yellows and reds. It really felt like an early winter evening, although the water wasn’t too icy.
I loved the signage at this place - particularly the ‘no passouts’ sign above the entrance gates. Also the corporate ‘ripples experience’ branding everywhere.
Apparently this place used to be St Mary’s swimming pool before an enormous renovation 14 years ago. You can tell the renovation was 14 years ago too from the styles of signage, lighting and colour choices. Definitely has an RSL feel.
There is a ‘ripples’ hydrotherapy pool across the way which seemed kitted out too.
Funny photo: http://mt-druitt-standard.whereilive.com.au/news/story/making-a-ripple/
Cook and Phillip Aquatic and Fitness Centre
2pm Thursday. $6.20 entry.
I have put off a visit to cook and phillip on a few occasions during this project, wanting to save a couple of close inner city pools for days when I wasn’t up for an epic adventure/too lazy etc. As the colours on the map form a greater and greater blue band around the city, my choices are to use up the inner city tickets, or venture further and further. So, one less up my sleeve, but such a great swim it was.
I used to swim at this pool when I worked in darlinghurst, and always liked to deepness of the pool. I think by 25m it is 1.8metres deep already. Swimming before the kids rush was great, the indoor sound effect of noisy water draining is already prominent enough with the squeals of many kids during lessons/play time. This is also definitely the kind of pool that would experience HIGH usage in your pre 9am and post 5pm cycles - lots of city workers.
I shared a lane with 2 others, which I must say I haven’t done in a while. Whilst I could wax lyrical about the joys of being a solo lane swimmer, the getting to swim in the MIDDLE of the lane etc, today made me realise that I am more motivated to keep up the pace when I have company. I guess it must be that deeply ingrained insecurity that I am not as fast as I think I am and that I am clearly holding up a whole chain of irate swimmers dancing at my heels. Anyway, it worked for me in terms of momentum to keep the laps ticking over at a higher frequency intensity.
The water wasn’t super clear a little murky. Good tiling: the light blue numbers with the dark blue lane lines. No recreation lanes in this pool - only lappers - another whole lap/hydro/water fountain/recreation pool/wave pool for that.
Open bathrooms - good showers with a mix of cubicles and open showering facilities.
Not really sure about the art pieces hanging above the pool. I didn’t engage much with their style or content, but did spend some time pondering how good a chlorine atmosphere can be for a painting. I can see why they have put some stuff up on the walls, the exposed concrete is pretty ominous and there is so much of it and all along that wall there is no source of light. This serves to make the whole centre feel quite dark and shadowy (nice shadows during laps across the pool floor though). Also I feel like the paintings seem a bit dated, like graffiti or murals or mosaic tend to feel.
I especially love the pool edge with the stone tiling going right up to the pool edge.
And I loved the note about the hair dryer - I had noticed the lack of power in it myself.
Only ladders in and out of the pool.
Take a virtual tour here: http://www.ymcasydney.org/centre/cookandphillip/virtual-tours
More about the murals: http://www.wendysharpe.com/NewFiles/pool%20mural.html
Bacteria panic: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/sydney-cbd-pool-shutdown/story-e6freuzi-1111114503268
About the architecture: http://www.bvn.com.au/projects/cook_and_phillip_park.html?OpenDocument&idx=Type&pcat=&tpl=ext
Prairiewood Leisure Centre
8.30am Wednesday. $6 entry.
After 2 failed swims on Monday and Tuesday due to unresearched seasonal pool closures = devastating, I was so happy to have a good swim this morning.
This place is quite an institution - it feels more like you are entering a RSL club than a fitness joint. First obstacle - I didn’t have my license on me (a problem anyway given I drove there) which is required for their system for my ‘blue card’, which would have included a photo of me. This is for security. They waved me in after profuse promises that I would come back with my ID next time. Then, they print out the receipt for my $6 entry and I have to use the cut off bar code to swipe in through the turnstiles. HECTIC!
The swim itself was fine - nothing amazing. The outdoor pool was cordoned off at 25m with a floating platform - no clear reason why this was the case - there was absolutely no one in the other end (except when I decided to have an experience in the other end as well so did the second half of my laps down there). This was disappointing as I was really hankering for a 50m swim. Water was lovely and clear, nice drainage, white pool liner + grey thick line markings.
Irritating swimmer who decided to hop into my lane and swim with me when I was the only other person in the pool. Not sure why he felt motivated to do this - I promptly moved to the other side of the pool. Was nice swimming out with the bush in the background.
BUT, I slipped on the metal ladder getting out of the pool onto my knee cap. POOL LOSE. This is why stairs/ramps are so important! The ladder wasn’t even that deep - the shallow end was only 1m (which is particularly shallow) so there were only 3 rungs, but they were especially thin and shiny without any gripping surface. No one saw - absent life guard etc. Only ladders in and out of this pool.
Inside looked a bit more civilised - massive aquarobics class going on - and kids swimming classes, and some people hanging in the spa in the middle of it all. The water in the indoor complex looked very clear/white - something about the white tiles and shallowness I guess. And the gradient of the ‘beach’ access.
Bathroom fine, motion activated warm showers on 3m timer routine. Only 3 shower cubicles so there was a bit of a queue. Wet floors with that plastic tubing matting.
Prolific signage about.
Sans Souci Leisure Centre
Saturday 9.30am. $6.00 entry.
Such a nice way to start the weekend with a morning swim. I was expecting the hoards, mostly of saturday morning swimming classes but was so pleasantly surprised to find a lane to myself. Seems all the lessons happen in the 25m pool inside - which was subdivided into the most amount of lanes I have ever seen - some were short 10m lanes coming off some off the 25m lanes. And all full of kids and instructors and sweating windows and splashing and parents attentively watching from plastic chairs at the water edge. Intense.
Meanwhile outside a scuba diving class was in residence in the side lane. I must say, if I was doing a scuba course I might want to be in a pool slightly deeper than this one - it looked like they were all having to squat/scrunch down to get below the surface! It was funny to swim alongside the divers - I kept forgetting about them and then being surprised/alarmed by big black shapes in the side of my vision blowing extreme bubbles.
The weather was great - overcast and super windy and raining at one point. A sunshower at another point too. I must say rain during swimming is one of my all time favourite things, especially when dirty rain smell mixes with chlorine smell. And a sun shower - how divine.
It is a pretty gusty spot - right on the water. Right along side is Rocklea Rd which at the pool becomes the bridge over Botany Bay/Kogarah Bay - very blowy open water. Traffic noise is pretty prevalent too.
Despite this it was a lovely swim - a fairly rustic pool with old school tiny white square tiles and only ladders in and out. Some beautiful old moreton bay fig trees around the pool were picturesque too, as was the faded concrete structure just outside the pool above the water police station, which might have been an old entrance/something.
The cafe inside seemed to be more than your hot chips/paddlepop style get up and if the weather hadn’t been a bit biting I would have loved to hang about in the sun with the newspaper and a coffee.
Core business seemed to be swimming lessons here - but looked like a fully equipped gym overlooking the water and some ballet classes going on too.
The bathroom was fine - communal showers. Novelty was the heat lamp on the wall. I got shocked half way through showering when a mass of women and children flocked in - clearly I chose the wrong 5 minutes to get out of the pool - must have been either half past or on the hour and the end of a batch of lessons. That made the showering/changing experience HELL.
Roselands Aquatic Centre
Friday 8am. $5.20 entry, $6.70 with sauna.
What an autumn experience. The water is definitely nippy now - and with the low rising sun across the pool creating lovely shade patterns I had a moment of panic getting into the water and the shock of the cold.
The shape of this pool is awesome! It kind of bulges out on both sides creating recreation areas without compromising the number of lanes for lapping which is very smart. What that does to perception underwater is great too - feels a bit like fish eyes bulging/popping.
This was a lovely pool. I had a lane to myself, and the lanes were spaciously wide. Nice lane ropes too - arcing out of the water at the end so you could move beneath them without having to submerge your head. There were about 4 others in the water with me. Not super deep though.
There was a whole team of people doing grass mowing and pruning during the time I was there - apart from that noise it was serenely calm despite being off a major road and next to a huge shopping centre carpark. The smell of cut grass was another strong sensory addition to the experience.
There was a sauna which I didn’t have time for, and an indoor 25m + recreation pool with ramp access.
Bathrooms were excellent - great colour choices and the painted concrete felt far nicer as a floor material than tiles in the bathroom. Both times I visited for changing and then showering, there were whole groups of women showering and nattering and laughing and singing together - obviously a whole friendship network of regulars which was lovely. Open showers.
I note the signs advising of community consultations by the City of Canterbury Council re reviewing operating hours of this pool and of Canterbury - I sense this might be about reducing access/hours of the outdoor pool during winter as in line with other things I have read recently about other pools..
I was very impressed by the life savers stations - whole set-ups with signage and equipment and elevated vantage points - very equipped and pro looking.
Greenacre Leisure Centre
9.30am Wednesday. $3.70 entry.
WHAT A SWIM WHAT A SWIM!
My first swim since in over a week as I was quarantined with a dreadful flu. And what a perfect re-entry pool!
I was the only patron for the most part! Just me and the pool and the sun and the changerooms. Even better, NO POOL LANES! I swam freely across the pool, lengthways, sideways, underwater diving, floating, on the diagonal, diving! Such bliss, serene and quiet, calm water only being disturbed by my strokes, not another person in sight. Clear blue skies this morning and warm sun on my back. I must have floated around for over 30 minutes, making me very late for work!
The water SO clear - you could see ripples across the other corner of the pool. Only 25m, my only gripe. Other pools were a wading shallow and a 25m 1.25m deep lesson pool. This is a seasonal facility - open from October until 11th April only. The water is also unheated - so was rather nippy upon entry! Great white contact lining, subtle grey line markings, clean blue tiling around the edge. Modern flat edge of the pool filtration system - which added to the smoothness of the swim. So nice to swim without lane ropes - they can be so cumbersome to the eye and the waylaid arm!
They seem to love their fencing here - some fairly ominous fencing outside the entrance blocks off access to a storm water trench complete with barbed wire, and some internal fencing seperating the kids area from the main pool.
The 3 staff here were fairly laid back - lazing in the sun catching up on the news. They were more than happy to chat to me as I was leaving, in fact this is the first place where I have disclosed my project to staff! They loved it, had all sorts of suggestions for me. Perfect time: 2-3pm (after school classes have left and before people finish work). Notable pools in their opinion: Sutherland, Granville, Parramatta. Best guage of good water quality: when you can see to the end. Apparently even during the peak of summer this place doesn’t get too hectic, at least not during the week.
The other way you can tell it is a seasonal facility coming to the end of term is the bathrooms. Ugh. They were concrete instead of the more usual tiles - they looked very underutilised or attended to - dead cockroach in one shower a good example. And 20c for a shower…
This swim put me in the bestest of moods for most of this day, I feel so nourished and refreshed and SO glad to be healed of illness and back to the swimming. It felt like the longest 10 days without swimming ever.
This is one of four pools within the Bankstown LGA which I think is quite impressive. If the other two are like this one and Birrong I am in for some more treats!
Interesting article - don’t think these proposed changes went ahead - but interesting stats on the number of patrons during winter time: http://www.bankstown.nsw.gov.au/Bankstown-Leisure-Centres-Greenacre/default.aspx
Parramatta Swimming Centre
8am. $4.50 entry.
A strange almost plain experience! I don’t know if this is the cumulative experience of swimming 3 days in a row, or having experienced enough pools to be unphased and nonplussed by things that previously would have excited me, or the stress of the day ahead of me, but for some reason my swim this morning felt highly routine, slightly hassling, slightly nothing. Maybe still the lingering sickness.
Parramatta pool is awesome - I wish I had been here on the weekend to try out the most awesome embedded in landscape/hill water slide, and the incredible diving blocks.
This pool seems to be of similar vintage to Granville pool - administered by same Parramatta Council and therefore the same tiling and filtration systems.
Starting blocks were fun - I even had a go diving off from the number 5 block to start my laps this am. I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to diving/starting blocks thus far - maybe a new thing to fix on, as really, a good plunge entry really cuts a pool above the rest.
Lane to myself - nice views of parramatta office/retail blocks in the distance.
Directly across the road is the site of the old Kings school proposed cultural precinct - what an amazing site it would be: http://saveoldkings.org/
Good shower/change room facilities - clean and lovely showers - time lapse/3 minute timer before you need to press again - the best way I reckon.
Lovely pool - may try and come again on a sunny/weekend day for the water slide and diving platform experience. Think my glum morning/stress mood must have affected my swim, as I was rather business like about getting in and out of the water with 20 laps in between.
Interesting background politics: http://www.sylviahale.org.au/news/parramatta-pool-lockout-for-local-kids-201cunfair201d
Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre - Enmore
2pm Thursday. $7 entry.
What fanfare, what an eagerly anticipated pool visit!
This pool has been the hottest topic of conversation since it opened earlier this year. I think for this reason I have been simultanesouly eager and reluctant to bathe here - and possibly wanted to wait for the hype to settle a bit. But now, I see the error of my ways - this pool is AWESOME and as amazing as people say.
I did have a pang of missing the old enmore pool - that 33m with the dirty water and gross dingyness and hyper chlorine. But no, this place is amazing, and also totally enviro. Eco-chic! From what I understand - high tech filtration means cleaner/less chlorinated water/makes it’s own chlorine, has UV sanitation, and cycles water all around system in 2.5hours! Also solar panels and natural ventilation.
Also, some great colour choices going on here. Normally I am not a fan of so much lime green - but with the blue of the water and the orange and the yellow wall it is just smashing. Even the fire hose and hydrant looked stylishly colour co-ordinated to me - very pleasing to the eye!
The swim was also exceptional - clean water, nice tasting. Not so clear you could see to the end of the pool like many others, but it did feel fresh and clean and blue and brilliant. So nice having so much natural light from the billions of windows - and overhead too. And less noise echoing about!
Interesting shower/bathroom choices. Red for women, blue for men which was disappointing. But great central area for lockers/open showering - presumably more for people having a quick rinse before/after getting out of the pool who don’t need the complications of the whole changeroom experience.
And of course, my favourite - a fabulous access ramp into the pool. So important and so good looking!
This is in my new favourites list. I’m sorry AKAC that I didn’t come sooner!
http://www.akac.com.au/ - good info on enviro credentials, history of the space and lane availability!
Lane Cove Aquatic Centre
2.30pm Wednesday. $7 entry.
This pool is one from my childhood. Swimming carnivals mainly. Memories of heaving up the pool, egged on/distracted by chatter and squealing from the concrete bandstand. Wet coloured crepe paper stains. And some form of life saving course - painful memories of being unable to hoik myself out of the pool with soaked clothes and a life jacket on.
It has been done up since then, the classic addition of an indoor 25m + pools + spa complex + gym + creche etc. I came here a couple of months ago but made the mistake of a 6.30pm swim - and it was so hell that I chucked a tanty and refused to do laps or take photos, and instead lurked in the steam room. That time was impossible because it was peak hour, and in the only 2 lanes for public swimming there would have been at least 25-30 people - all bottle necking and traffic and pool rage. The rest of the 50m pool and the 25m inside seemed to be for squad and lessons.
Anyway, this time was of course far better. A sole lane and a delightful experience redeemed any past angst. The pool is pretty great - clean and clear water, a fabulous 3m deep end, nice yellowish non-slip concrete around the pool and some excellent tiling patterns. Lots of rotting leaf litter on the floor of the deep end wasn’t so great - but actually, didn’t phase me that much.
The rest of the pool was taken up by some form of male sports team doing extremely athletic looking things.
Inside the complex is a different land altogether. Everything you could have imagined is here - kids play pools, spa/steam/sauna, 25m pool, training pool. Noisy and gross wet slippery floors and millions of chairs for parents/carers for resting/waiting/watching, often with pursed lips and hassled faces. This place is a smooth machine of lessons too - the diagram of class progression is truly frightening, especially as a parent who might be needing to fork out the cash. This pool is one of many run by the company Carlile - I’m still coming to understand the dynamics of pool administrators etc.
Steam room was amazing except actually too hot, something I never thought could be. And the motor sounds of the pump to pump the steam room could be heard and felt vibrating through the seats of the steam room - somewhat distracting. Spa/steam/sauna use included in entry price - so $7 for it all which is pretty good.
Fairly standard/slightly icky changing rooms - although I did notice the upstairs ones (indoors) were far better than the downstairs (outdoor 50m) ones.
Finding a park amongst the sea of 4xwheel drives was a hassle, and this was before the worst of the peak time!
Hurstville Aquatic Leisure Centre
3pm Saturday. $6.50 entry ($9 for spa/steam/swim).
Not a very pleasant experience at all. To be fair weekend pools are very different experiences to weekday pools, so I shouldn’t be too harsh.
Lots of families and kids. All indoor. Very warm air. Heaps of fun things like waterslides and fountains and a huge space for leisure playing/swimming. I liked the way the lap pool connected to the leisure pool under a bridge. Very noisy and wet everywhere - dangerous dirty wet tiles throughout - with bunches of hair everywhere on the ground too.
My laps were ok - I had a lane to myself, although there were contstant interruptions of kids and adults alike swimming across the lane, playing in the lane, using inflatable lounges in my lane as I was trying to swim. I sort of love how wild this felt, especially when compared with the rigidness and over patrolling of some pools when it comes to appropriate lane use. However, in a 25m pool it was less acceptable to share my lane with blow-up things.
The water was not super clean - I could feel my hands catching hairs and other floating debris as I was taking strokes - and pulling down my swimming costume afterwards revealed a huge amount of dirt and hairs and things collected over my 40 laps.
The bathrooms were pretty gross, small and wet and just gross actually.
The spa and steam area looked inviting, but alas were very very full, and no time to wait around for a place in the steam room.
I did love how there was a dedicated lane for walking - in fact this was the fullest lane in the pool, and there were other walkers in the recreation lanes too. I actually am tempted to become a walker myself - it kind of looks fun!
Obviously this place is about fun and kids and relaxing, and I sure would have loved this place as a small myself. It would look different on a weekday morning - and maybe it would only be fair to come back outside of peak family time.
Col Jones - Tempe
3pm Friday. $5.50 entry.
This place is truly intriguing. Principally a swim school enterprise, it is privately run and only open to the public: 2.30 - 3.45 every weekday, mon - wed 6.15 - 8pm and thurs - fri 7.15 - 9pm. I felt lucky to make it within the time slot today having realised the time scarcity!
When I arrived at 3pm there was one other person in the pool, by 3.25 a swathe of parents and kids had arrived and lessons were already underway. Everywhere you looked there where yellow kick boards!
25m pool, and very warm water. Cloudy water. Shallow pool all the way down.
This place is remarkable for its cut sandstone walls, complete with plants growing out of crevices. The pool area is 3 walls sandstone, which makes you feel like you are in a den/cave. Industrial size fans were loudly blowing air around the space - not a lot of air ventilation possibilities really! That said it didn’t feel dark or dank.
There is spa/sauna/steam stuff, but only on during the evening session. It seems to be quite a popular Friday evening spot amongst friends of mine, and I think there is no extra cost for the steam etc which makes it the most economical swim combo I have encountered thus far.
I loved the signage ‘please stand back from side of pool so children can concentrate on lesson’. I can see how you would end up watching your kid during lessons - the whole pool is consumed in lessons so there is no chance of getting laps done in the meantime - I did spot a couple of laptops. Watching the waves of lesson punters really brought home to me how massive the learn-to-swim industry is.
I might return sometime soon for an evening swim+steam leisure style, I found the whole lapping amongst lessons and parents watching to be a bit intimidating! I also think it would be a delightful spot to unwind at the end of the week.
Overall a quaint place - seems like constant demand for lessons keeps the business ticking over without the need to promote or worry too much about signage - loved the tall post out the front which was obviously at some point a ‘Col Jones’ sign. My $5.50 swim is a very little fish compared to the swim school machine! I’ll have to try their Hurstville spot next!
Birrong Swimming Centre
What a great entrance! Love that smooth sandstone with the sharp lettering!
This place is currently undergoing renovations to the 25m pool and kids play area - strange they wouldn’t have done it all at one time given that the 50m pool and kids play stuff (fancy bright colourful exciting stuff like water mushroom and WATER CANNONS) looks very new and shiny.
The pool is fabulous. My FAVOURITE feature is the ramp into the pool - which is such a great model of good access for those not able to clamber in and out using ladders/steps.
Other favourite feature is the pool surfaces - that white contact like covering - but this time, instead of black lines painted on the white lino stuff like at north sydney or drummoyne, black little tiles to mark lanes! So classy! Also I noticed that the lane dividers were suspended just below the surface of the water - so that when you raised your head our of water - it was clear to the edge of the pool, no garish over-colourful lane ropes in way of vision! This clean line fashion was further helped by having the edge of the pool fall into those drainage grates that seem like the newest thing.
Pool was pretty empty - only 3 other swimmers. The 3 lifeguards on duty were at one time a bit disconcerting as they hung around chatting at one corner of the pool.
The lifeguard tower was pretty amazing - so much good concrete furniture, although potentially a bit dominating/looming in the landscape! Also there was some fabulous signage about - loved the no diving or bombing sign.
Seems like Bankstown Council has invested heaps of energy into it’s 4 pools, they all look streamlined and well funded. 4 pools for this council, most other council areas (outside of the CBD) have 1 - 2 pools max I reckon…!
I did have to pay 20c for a hot shower, into the cutest old tin box with texta instructions handwritten on the front - I must admit I was surprised that it worked!
Seems like Birrong made it into Daily Telegraph top 10 swimming spots: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/top-10-swimming-spots/story-fn5ftg6s-1225976612727
They are also advertising some vacant positions at present!