What I wouldn’t give to be in Barton Springs RIGHT NOW. Of all the special swim spots we visited in Austin, this one stands out on many levels: length, recreational options, and underwater views especially. Not quite a lake and not quite a pool, this eighth-of-a-mile swim spot remains a consistently cool temperature year-round (high 60s/low 70s), even during Texas’s scorching summers, attracting all manner of swimmers and bathers to its banks and waters.
As I’m starting to expect from springs based on this and my Florida experience, the deliciously clear water makes it easy to appreciate the lush underwater vegetation and sea life. Most notable here were the fishies, big and small. They’d let you get pretty close before darting away. Also of note were the ducks–fake ones to section off the diving board area and real ones to keep you on your toes. Sorry to say (or maybe not), I did not see any Barton Springs salamanders.
I swam just eight lengths here and appreciated different things each time. You can do a flip turn at the solid wall by the deep end, or perhaps stop to look at the waterfall on the other side. On the shallow end, the bottom gradually approaches the surface, so there’s no wall to push off when you turn around. The not-a-pool is surrounded by grassy hills that call out for sunbathing, including nudists perpetuating the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan. The only down side is that eating is not allowed here, allegedly due to an ant problem. Up the hill is a lovely open-air yet private, grassy courtyard that is in fact the locker room.
All this for just $3, or even for free at certain times of the day! We came here in the middle of our first full day in Austin and intended to come back for more luxurious laps and a diving competition, but somehow we didn’t make it. As mentioned previously, we have plenty of incentive to return to Austin for more swimming.