Configuration: 8 lanes x 50 meters outdoor pool. (There is also a 25-yard indoor pool and a wading pool.)
My pool tourism dream vacation to Australia is under way! After a looong flight that arrived in the wee hours yesterday morning, I needed help to feel human again and get on the local schedule. In other words, I needed the North Sydney Olympic Pool, which is just a short–and beautiful–walk away from the Sydney apartment I’ll call home for the next week.
Long-time friends and pool fans Jo, Frankie, and I strolled along the waterfront to get here, passing landmarks such as the prime minister’s Sydney residence and the governor-general’s residence while catching views of the famous Sydney Harbor, Harbour Bridge, and Opera House. One of the best views is commanded by the pool itself, nestled on the waterfront between the base of the bridge and an amusement park. Built in 1936 like so many of my favorite New York pools, it’s got classic Deco style in the brickwork and terra cotta.
The facility has expanded over time to include a cafe, a sun deck, an indoor pool, spa, and fitness center, all run by the municipality. It’s not just another pretty pool, though. It’s fast! Among its records is the record for having the most world records–a whopping 86.
Swimming here lived up to my grand expectations. The water was clear, pleasantly salty and chlorinated, and just the right temperature. There was plenty of room even on a Saturday in the height of summer, and the views were spectacular. I did have to concentrate a bit to stay on the left side of the lane, but even in my depleted state I managed. The deep end goes off a cliff, sinking to depths suitable for high diving. The pool is fully lined, a temporary measure intended to extend its life at least until 2018, when more extensive repairs are planned.
The full pool was available for lap swimming when we got there, and lanes were arranged by speed including subdivisions such as “freestyle only” (!) or “no breaststroke” (!!). After a short while, a masters team took over a few lanes for a midday workout. Having had enough of a swim by that point, I enjoyed watching them from a poolside seat in a window that protrudes off the deck.
Other impressive features include solar panels about the indoor pool and, scheduled for opening next month, a natural gas-powered cogeneration plant. This will provide electricity and heat while reducing carbon emissions and power costs, helping the local government to significantly reduce its electricity use, given that the pool currently accounts for 35 percent of said usage.
The locker rooms, I mean “change rooms,” pale in comparison to the pool and seem to function mainly for revenue generation–you have to pay extra for a key to a locker and for the shower. Still, there’s plenty of room, and they are clean enough.
Whether this is your neighborhood pool or an attraction you travel around the world to visit, it won’t disappoint. We plan to return for a nighttime swim and after-dark views. And plan we must, since there are more than 100 pools in Sydney!