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!)
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.
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.