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CURBED LA MAP: 17 OF LA’S AWESOMEST AND DOUCHIEST POOLS AND SWIM SPOTS
It’s been awhile since I last posted a pool review, and despite the fact that it’s mid-winter, all this beautiful Southland weather has me feeling both guilty and inspired. I’ve therefore decided to split the difference, and post a link to Curbed LA’s map from last summer, wherein local swim spots are ranked by their difficulty to access, and, in turn, by the relative factor of douche or awesomeness displayed at each.
There’s something for everyone here, including a few places previously mentioned on this blog, as well as a number of pools I’m keen to explore further and report back to y’all on in upcoming installments, so stay tuned. Airbnb in Alhambra, anyone??
Sad story: This afternoon I went to Echo Deep pool for a swim and a sign was prominently posted that read “BEGINNING NOVEMBER 15, THE POOL WILL BE CLOSED ON MONDAYS”. Now I don’t want to start a rumor, but in the absence of any confirmation (i.e., I have been unable to find anything posted on the City’s website or on any local news pages as of yet), I can only speculate that this is an ordinance that will apply city-wide, who knows for how long. I had a feeling something like this would happen, especially after it happened to the libraries! I know it’s only one day a week, but it really is unfortunate. I will continue to try and find out more, and keep you posted….
UPDATE as of 11/23/10: It’s now posted on the official L.A. City Aquatics website that all public pools are closed on Mondays. Note, however, that the Argue Swim Stadium is closed SUNDAYS, instead of Mondays. Boo!
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ACE HOTEL AND SWIM CLUB
701 E. PALM CANYON DR (map)
PALM SPRINGS, CA 92264
Check out their tumblr here: http://blog.acehotel.com/tagged/PSP
OPEN YEAR ROUND
ACCESS TO POOLS INCLUDED WITH STAY
COMPLIMENTARY ENTRY ON WEEKDAYS OR $12 FOR A ONE-DAY WEEKEND POOL PASS
LOCALS: $50 FOR SWIM CLUB MEMBERSHIP, INCLUDES ONE GUEST PASS, 15% OFF FOOD/BEVERAGE & 10% OF SPA SERVICES
It’s fall in LA and that means fewer opportunities to swim outdoors. It also means I have come down with a cold. So I thought I would take a moment to reminisce about our first anniversary trip to Palm Springs back in August, when it was 110 degrees and the livin’ was easy.
Although the Ace had been open for awhile and had received rave reviews from many of my friends, I had not had the opportunity to personally check it out because I was living in upstate New York. Once I returned to the Southland, however, visiting the Ace and Palm Springs in general was on the top of my list of fun weekend excursions to take. Ric and I decided to stay for a night in celebration of our nuptials, and of course we picked the hottest weekend of the summer to do so. Not that I’m complaining!
All in all, we had a lovely time. The room was cute and comfortable, the restaurant served up delicious grub and everything was very reasonably priced. But the focus today is on the pools. After all, they do bill themselves as a swim club, and in this regard, they do not disappoint. There are 2 pools: one, in the main courtyard, that is trapezoidal in shape and quite deep on one end; and another that is secluded among the hotel buildings, smaller, round in shape and shallow throughout. Both are surrounded by lots of lounge chairs, but the first is where all the action is, with bar service, hammocks, and a hot tub nearby. This is the place to see and be seen, and it is where we spent most of our time.
Now, this is definitely a lounging pool and I imagine that on the weekends and in the fall it is a scene that could only rival a Las Vegas resort, so be prepared for that. But when we were there it was really relaxed, due to the extreme heat. This was a bonus in my view, but be forewarned – the concrete deck surrounding the pool gets so hot that they have to put down cushions around the perimeter (which themselves are scorching). No running around barefoot here in the summer. The water in the pool was basically bath-water temperature too, so it wasn’t possible to just jump in and cool off completely. We had to use the pull-handle “eye wash” showers near the entrance to achieve that goal.
The second pool was less populated and more chill. Probably a good option when it’s really busy, or if you have kids. The best part is that, unlike at most hotels, here you are allowed to swim late: until midnight in Pool #2, and until 2am in Pool #1. This can make it noisy if you are trying to sleep, but that isn’t why you came here, right? Needless to say, I am already looking forward to our next visit.
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MCDONALD’S OLYMPIC SWIM STADIUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC)
ON THE UNIVERSITY PARK CAMPUS, PART OF THE LYON RECREATION CENTER
1026 W. 34th STREET (map)
LOS ANGELES, CA 90089
(NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF JEFFERSON AND VERMONT)
FALL /SPRING SEMESTERS
MON-FRI 6am – 8 am, 11am – 7pm
SAT-SUN 11am – 6pm
MON-FRI 6am – 8 am, 11am – 6pm
SAT-SUN 11am – 4pm
**Check the weekly calendar for special hours (FYI: it’s always closed during home football games)
COST: FREE FOR ENROLLED STUDENTS, STAFF AND FACULTY OF USC
GUESTS - $10/SINGLE-USE, $40/HALF-SEMESTER PASS,
$70/SEMESTER PASS, $200/YEAR PASS
The USC outdoor pool complex, also known as the McDonald’s (yeah, that McDonald’s) Swim Stadium, is where my swimming ‘career’ really began. I was a graduate student there for several years and after about 5 years I took up swimming as a way to deal with the madness of finishing my degree. Any distraction helps in a situation like that, and I figured, “I live in L.A. – I might as well take advantage of all this awesome weather, ‘cause who knows how long I will be here? I could end up with a job in Canada.” (Such is the life of the young academic.) I was also in desperate need of a work-out, and it had to be one that didn’t include massive amounts of running or jumping (due to a bummy leg).
So I recruited my good buddy Jody to navigate the vast Lyon Center Athletic Complex with me. A large university athletic facility is an overwhelming and scary place, with lots of different little areas and corridors and doorways and whatnot. It’s also generally swarming with sorority girls and frat boys and way too many IPOD-bedecked teenagers, so it’s nice to have an ally at first. But actually I found it to be really easy to maneuver through, and not long after I started going I got my solo routine down.
After signing up with the front desk at the entrance or showing your card, you pass through the turnstile. Immediately ahead on the left is the door to the women’s locker room (the men’s is just a bit further down the hall). Even though it is not super new, the locker room is big and they keep it quite clean. You can sign up for locker service for an additional fee if you are a member, but there are also day-use lockers (so bring your own lock). The showers are warm and there are lots of outlets, so you can get ready for your day there. I have never found it to be very busy, no matter what time of day.
The entrance to the pool is through the locker room. Just walk out the door right by the bathing suit dryer and you are on your way! A hot tub and sauna are the first two things you will encounter but stay motivated and pass on directly to the 2 pools. Yep, there are 2 heated pools – a diving pool, 25 x 25 yards with all the crazy diving platforms, and a 50 meter x 25 yard competition pool. Note that both are 6’7” in their respective shallow ends(!), so they are not pools for just hanging out or lounging in. In short, you’ve gotta know what you are doing (you also have to be 16 years old). Each pool is typically set up with 8 lanes a piece, though sometimes the competition pool is set up in a short-course style with more lanes. Honestly, you never really know what you’re gonna get in this place – most often lap swimming takes place in the dive pool, but sometimes they have long course only in the big pool and the dive pool is closed. It’s been a few years since I have swum here regularly so I don’t know if it’s still this way, but I’d imagine so. There is so much sporting activity at this pool – diving practice, swim team, guys’ water polo practice (a good time to be there, btw ladies) – I think they just adapt the conditions as they go. It makes things interesting, that’s for sure!
It’s a pretty busy place, especially in the morning, at lunch time and around the end of the work day, so be prepared to share a lane. Pull buoys, kickboards, fins and paddles are available for use and there are also deck chairs for laying out.
This pool has a lot of history to it: like the Argue Swim Stadium, this too was an Olympic complex, built for the 1984 games. It has also hosted several other national competitions over the years, and every year it hosts both the Janet Evans Invitational as well as the very popular ‘Swim with Mike’ charity event, which raises funds for physically challenged athletes. In 1989, a permanent bank of bleachers was built atop the exterior Lyon Center that seats up to 2000 spectators. The pool’s official website also proudly boasts of the “movable bulkhead” technology that keeps the water calm and the huge electronic scoreboard that was recently installed. All of this makes it a pretty serious environment in which to do recreational lap swim. But I think that what makes this pool really stand out in my mind is that it is where I first learned to love to swim.