Finding the right swimming facility can make training much more enjoyable, so be sure to assess these key characteristics when choosing a pool.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a number of swimming facilities to choose from in your area, you’ll want to find out which pool best fits your needs and tastes before you shell out hard-earned money for a membership. Finding the right pool can make a big difference in your enthusiasm for training, so be sure to assess the following factors when weighing the options.
– Location. Is the pool close to your home or work? Does it have adequate parking or public transit access? If the location is inconvenient, you’re much more likely to find excuses not to go.
– Schedule and capacity. Is the pool open for lap swim during the hours when you want to train? How busy is the pool during peak times? Would you have trouble getting a lane? If you’re interested in taking classes, are they offered at the right times? What is the student-to-teacher ratio? An otherwise excellent pool facility may be less than optimal if it’s overcrowded when you want to use it.
– Pool length. Are you training for competition? If your races will be in an Olympic pool, you may want to train at that distance. A 50-meter pool allows you to work on your endurance and focus on maintaining a steady rhythm for longer.
– Equipment. Does the pool have starting blocks and supply other equipment you might want to use in training, such as kickboards and pull buoys?
– Environment. Are the locker rooms and public spaces clean and well maintained? Is the atmosphere energizing or calming, and does this match your preference? Are the water temperature and air temperature comfortable? Do you feel at ease around the pool’s typical clientele? Take a careful look around the facility during a time when you’d be likely to use it and see if you like the vibe.
– Extra features. Are you interested in child care, spa facilities, a café, or other extras? Do you prefer a full sports complex that offers access to activities beyond swimming, such as weight training or spin classes?
– Cost. Look at monthly and annual membership fees, as well as the additional cost of specific classes or other services of interest. Some pools may have higher fees that include a lot of additional features in the price of membership, but if you never use those extras you might be better off with a more basic package somewhere else.
As you’re researching your options, don’t forget check out the pool’s social media activity and any online reviews to get a feel for what recent users like and don’t like about the pool. That said, other people will have different priorities, of course, and may complain about or praise things that wouldn’t greatly affect the quality of your workouts.
Figure out which characteristics are most important to you and then visit several pools for a test drive. Check out the facilities, talk to the staff and try the pool to see how it feels. Hopefully you’ll find the perfect facility that will make you eager to train!
What’s the No. 1 characteristic you look at when choosing a pool for training?