40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#57: Rollingwood Pool

Rollingwood Pool

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.

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The wading area stayed covered during our swim, making for a spooky underwater view on that side of the pool. The covers for the main pool are visible on the reel at top left.

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.

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#56: Deep Eddy Pool

Deep Eddy

Location: Austin, Texas

Configuration: 12 or so lanes of 33 1/3 yards plus large wading area

Fee: $3

We’ve seen how remarkable the year 1936 was for pools in New York, and it turns out to have been good to Texas, too. The state’s oldest pool, Deep Eddy dates to that same year and owes its existence to the same pot of WPA money. It made me feel right at home during a recent swimcation, when I joined a bunch of  marathon swimmers converging in Austin three weeks ago.

Would I be able to swim the same afternoon we arrived in town, I wondered? Sure, we can always swim, our co-host and tour guide Leslie reassured me. We made our first pilgrimage here shortly before closing that night and came back two other times during the weekend, basking in the cool, spring-fed, unchlorinated water that reminded me in color only of John Jay College Pool.

Deep Eddy takes its name from a deep eddy in the nearby Colorado River–visible in the top of the photo above–which was the local swimming hole before a proper pool was created. It’s a refreshingly cool temperature even during the hot Texan summers thanks to the springwater, which is drained out and replaced a few times per week.

We all loved swimming here. The 33-yard length didn’t feel that much longer than 25 yards, and yet the yardage racked up more quickly. The lap area is deep and spacious, and the staff and other swimmers were all very friendly.

View from the shallow end.

View from the shallow end, with the lap lanes way off yonder.

indoor-outdoor locker room

One of my favorite things here was the locker room, which managed to be both private and open-air. From the showers, you could admire the trees.

Circle swimming in this lane - sign

Texas is so big that swimmers don’t usually have to share lanes. According to Leslie, people usually queue up for a lane rather than sharing–except in a few specially designated lanes for those in a hurry.

John "Waldo" by the mural

An elaborate mural by the shallow end relates the history of the pool and park.

H&H

H&H, photo by Devon.

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