Location: Austin, Texas
Configuration: 6 lanes of 25 yards plus entry nook and wading pool
Fee: Free as visitor to USMS workout
On day 2 in Austin, we rose early to join Leslie at her masters workout a short drive away from where we were staying. The team at Rollingwood Pool at Western Hills Athletic Club has back-to-back morning practices so we stayed for both, adding about 50 percent to the attendance. In other words, even with many of us there, there was plenty of space in the lanes.
The pool is situated in a clearing on the edge of a large, well-landscaped park, and the sun gradually found its way around the trees and into the water as the morning passed. I like nothing more than an early swim in the sun, so this was a real treat. The coaches and team members were friendly and mellow, just what we needed to kick off a swim-packed day.
Before the first workout, we helped with the pool’s daily unveiling, rolling off the pool covers and releasing clouds of steam. (Helping with the covers is encouraged, however we did notice that some swimmers sat in their cars in the parking lot until this job was done.) Unlike Deep Eddy, which was a brisk 70 degrees or so, this pool was probably in the low 80s, a toasty contrast to the chilly morning air. Also helping to keep us warm was a large heating unit in the ceiling of the locker room.
The feeling of spaciousness from the uncrowded workouts did not carry into the locker room, which was quite tight. There are plans to change this, and in the meantime there is a lobbying effort for an outdoor shower.
We thought we might see the team’s most famous member, but he didn’t turn up. His teammates were still abuzz about how he had recently been prevented from competing in a masters competition due to certain transgressions during his career as a professional cyclist. I used to be a big fan, and in fact my only previous visit to Austin was part of a stalking mission, so I was excited about the prospect of sharing the pool with him despite his self-inflicted fall from grace. Add this to the long list of reasons to return again.