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LA84 FOUNDATION/JOHN C. ARGUE SWIM STADIUM (AKA LOS ANGELES SWIM STADIUM)
3990 S. MENLO AVE (map)
(NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF S. VERMONT AND W. MLK JR. BLVD.)
LAP SWIMMING SCHEDULE (FOR JULY-SEPT 2010 – check website above for changes): MON-FRI: 10am - 4pm SAT-SUN: 1pm - 4.30pm LAP POOL - OPEN YEAR-ROUND / OUTDOOR / HEATED (50 meters x 25 yards) WADING POOL - OPEN YEAR-ROUND / OUTDOOR / HEATED (ZERO DEPTH, PLAY FEATURES) COST: $2.50 / $2.00 w/ library card (KIDS & SENIORS FREE) ADULT LAP PASS = $55 / 30 admissions ADULT HEALTH CLUB PASS = $45 / 3 months (INCLUDES POOL USE, FITNESS AND WEIGHT ROOMS)
LAP SWIMMING SCHEDULE (FOR JULY-SEPT 2010 – check website above for changes):
MON-FRI: 10am - 4pm
SAT-SUN: 1pm - 4.30pm
LAP POOL - OPEN YEAR-ROUND / OUTDOOR / HEATED (50 meters x 25 yards)
WADING POOL - OPEN YEAR-ROUND / OUTDOOR / HEATED (ZERO DEPTH, PLAY FEATURES)
COST: $2.50 / $2.00 w/ library card (KIDS & SENIORS FREE)
ADULT LAP PASS = $55 / 30 admissions
ADULT HEALTH CLUB PASS = $45 / 3 months (INCLUDES POOL USE, FITNESS AND WEIGHT ROOMS)
This pool complex is a special place, a true - and truly overlooked - Los Angeles historical monument! The stadium was originally built for the 1932 Summer Olympics and its beautiful facade remains, though it now houses a modern public recreational facility, the largest in Los Angeles. A nice 2008 article from the LA Times chronicles its storied past. (From the mid 90s to 2003 it was abandoned to taggers and the homeless! I happen to know someone who wandered into the site in 2001 and claimed it was pretty sketchy.) Huell Houser also filmed this segment of California Gold in 1996 that features the Swim Stadium, pre-renovation. Weird!
The 120,000 square-foot structure’s renewal and remodel was completed in October 2004 at a cost of $30 million, according to Friends of Expo Center, and includes “The Ralph M. Parsons Preschool, The W.M. Keck Amphitheatre, The Ahmanson Senior Center, and the Roy A. Anderson Recreation Center, which features the LA84 John C. Argue Swim Stadium (50-meter pool, zero-depth recreation pool), two side-by-side gymnasiums, fitness center, weight room, meeting facilities, and a state-of-the-art computer lab.”
Enough with the history lessons, how is the swimming, you ask? Well, the short answer is: Fabulous! You just have to make it to the pool.
The entrance to the pool is through the front facade doors, on Menlo Street, which is probably also where you should park. Sometimes when it’s really busy in the summer they direct you around to the side entrance on the western end of the building, where there is a parking lot (of reserved spaces). When you enter there is a front desk, but you can bypass it and go directly through the turnstile to the swimming cashier window. After you buy a ticket (which you should take with you out to the pool) you can either go left to the women’s/girls’ locker rooms (note that these are 2 separate areas) or back around the front desk to the mens’/boys’ locker room on the opposite side.
The locker rooms are the best and cleanest I have seen at any public facility in LA. There are small and medium lockers (bring your own lock), or an attendant who will bag and tag your stuff. I can’t vouch for the men’s side, but in the women’s locker room there are two full showers, and several changing stalls (ditto for the girls). On the girls’ side there is also a vanity area with a counter, mirror, outlets and even a bathing suit centrifuge dryer! Fancy! Now for the warning: the locker area is at some point almost always filled with 12-16 year old girls and boys who are pretty lively and really loud. Its kind of amusing to be in that environment actually, but it can get a little hectic, especially on weekends and in the summer. So just make sure you are prepared for that possibility.
After exiting the back doors of the locker area, you will find yourself in a long corridor. Just proceed straight out the next set of doors and -poof- you are in the pool area, with the bleachers above you!
As you can see, the main pool is always divided into 2 areas: one for diving, water polo or kids playing, and the other is strictly for lap swim. (The recreational pool and a small shady grass area is beyond.) There are 8 short-course (25m) lanes and you hardly ever have to share! It is, quite suprisingly, a relaxed environment given the vastness of the space. Kickboards and pull buoys are available for use. You will definitely get a lot of sun exposure if you are here during mid-day, but after about 2pm the sun goes behind the building.
Another cautionary note: This pool is host to many swim meets and other acquatic events throughout the year, so scheduling issues can and do arise. If you aren’t a regular like myself, I’d suggest calling ahead to make sure there are no unexpected closures.
I’m not sure how else to say it: I LOVE THIS PLACE!
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ECHO DEEP POOL
1419 COLTON STREET (map)
(JUST OFF GLENDALE, SOUTH OF TEMPLE IN ECHO PARK)
LAP SWIMMING SCHEDULE (AS OF JULY 2010 – check website above for changes):
MON-FRI 6.00-7.30 am ($55 FOR 30 ADMISSIONS PASS REQUIRED!!)
7.00-9.00 pm (FRIDAYS = ADULTS ONLY)
SAT-SUN 12.00-5.00 pm
SIZE: 36.6 X 22.7 METERS
DEPTH: UP TO 9 FEET
COST: $2.50 / $2.00 w/ library card (KIDS & SENIORS FREE)
This heated indoor pool is a real treasure, tucked away among houses and some small buildings just south of the 101 freeway in echo park. I probably had driven past it a thousand times without noticing it, in spite of the eye-catching modern building in which it is housed.
The pool and housing structure were actually renovated in early 2008 at the cost of about 5 million dollars, according to la.curbed.com. There are now lots of glass panels that let sunlight in, and cool garage door-like windows that roll up and allow air in on hot days. However, it should be noted that the bathrooms and changing areas remain pretty bare-bones – concrete with a few benches and a few private stalls. I wouldn’t plan to get ready for a night out there or anything like that. On the upside, there are push-button showers and nice attendants who will check your bag (you get a safety pin), insist you shower before entering, and actively enforce the no cell phone rule.
This pool can get busy, with various local swim teams coming in for practice throughout the afternoon and community classes during the evening. But they devote quite a bit of time and space to lap swimming (usually 6 lanes, marked ‘slow’ ‘medium’ and ‘fast’), so it is definitely possible to find a time that works for you. I’d say that the odds of having to share a lane are about 50/50. Kickboards and pull buoys are available for use. Also, there are two pla y areas open on either end of the pool often reserved for kids and their parents. Sometimes on the weekends they leave the middle area open for diving board activity as well.
Like all City of Los Angeles public pools, the cost to swim at Echo Deep is $2.50 or $2.00 with an LA city library card. You may also purchase a 30-visit pass for $55. It is open year-round and is a great option during winter months in particular. I have read elsewhere that there were problems in the past with the cleanliness of the water, but in the past year i personally have never experienced anything weird or gross there. And i have swum there a lot.
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