40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#52: UC Berkeley Spieker Pool

on November 24, 2012

Stacy, me, SamLocation: Berkeley, California

Configuration: 25 yards x 50 meters

Fee: $12 RSF day pass

Fees to Date: $208.87

I’ve swum in a number of Bay Area pools during past visits, including two pools at UC Berkeley, but I was never able to swim in the main Cal pool, Spieker. The last time I tried, it was open but the place to buy a day pass was not, so I just peered at it longingly through a crack in the gate.

Since then, my brother has taken up lap swimming at the urging of his classmate Stacy, and they promised me a swim during this visit. Fortunately, there were no obstacles to entry, just a $12 fee that provided a day’s access to all Berkeley facilities. (For students here, membership for the whole semester is just $10!)

CALIFORNIA and diving boards

In the left of this picture, just below the first I, you’ll see one of the divers midflip.

Sam and I biked to campus for his usual swim time, and I met up with Stacy in the locker room prior to setting foot on the hallowed pool deck. In just the most recent Olympics, Cal swimmers and water polo players came home with more than a dozen medals. The head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s swim team was Teri McKeever, also head coach of the Cal women swimmers and divers, some of whom treated us to incredible feats of acrobatism in the diving well while we swam. When they’re not at the Olympics, these athletes are gunning for NCAA championships. The banners behind us in the top photo list their most recent victories.

Cal Olympians

There’s room for more Olympians in these waters, and on this plaque.

It was great to swim with Sam and Stacy. Sam opted for team sports as a child and in fact just came around to the idea of lap swimming this semester–much to the satisfaction of his big sister. Stacy had been holed up at home for almost two weeks as she finished off her dissertation, so she was full of smiles to be out in the world while the copy shop printed her tome. We commandeered our own lane, and then I moved over when the one next to us opened up. The off-and-on rain stayed off for our swim, and it was a treat to be swimming outside.

The company was great, and in my opinion far surpassed the pool, which at 30 years old was not as inspirational as I expected. The setting is particularly unglamorous, shoehorned in between buildings. The water is warmer than I prefer, and there were no backstroke flags. The lanes are nice and wide, but we had to install the lane line ourselves, and most of the pool toys not available to regular lap swimmers. I knew in my head that legions of amazing swimmers had graced the water, and that up-and-coming stars are lined up to be next, but I couldn’t feel their presence in the water. In fact, I think I would have liked this pool more had I not had such grand expectations.

I did a fairly easy swim, with plenty of kicking in order to watch the divers, and saved some energy to visit another campus pool.

6 responses to “#52: UC Berkeley Spieker Pool

  1. […] main training pool, Spieker, had closed unexpectedly–and is still closed–due to flooding and equipment damage, and […]

  2. […] age. Further proving that she’s an independent thinker, she chose Cal and its workmanlike Spieker Pool for her collegiate career while many of her teammates headed to […]

  3. […] which has workout machines, classes, etc. Some towels available, BYO lock. Here’s the 40 Pools review… she thought it was just ok, and I agree, despite hosting so many Olympic swimmers […]

  4. […] Fee: Included with RSF day pass purchased for Spieker Pool […]

  5. […] to peer in through the fence at the year-old facility. The boxed-in setting is so similar to Spieker that I thought I might be in the wrong place, but the new diving tower is the giveaway. No more […]

  6. […] is that it’s indoors in a city with abundant year-round outdoor options including Cal’s Spieker Pool just a block away. I always prefer swimming en plein air, and even the garden windows (open!) and […]

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