My home pool, Aquacrest Pool in Delray Beach, FL, was closed for maintenance this past week. To get in a few swims, I took a tour of some of the other local south Florida pools. For triathletes, recreational swimmers, and competitive swimmers training or vacationing in South Florida, finding a good swimming facility can make or break your swimming experience. Including Aquacrest, I got to five pools. What follows is my review of these pools, and I have listed them in my order of preference.

5) Pompey Park Pool
Pompey Park is a 6 lane, 25 yard pool with a 1m and 3m diving board. Located in Delray Beach, the pool is part of the Pompey Park complex, which includes baseball fields, basketball courts, batting cages, volleyball courts, and many other recreational facilities. The pool is pretty shallow, for I could have my head above water while kneeling. The pool has decent locker room facilities, and it has free parking. The pool hosted Aquacrest Pool's swim teams while that pool was closed for maintenence, so swimming at Pompey Park was included in my Aquacrest masters membership (Pompey is normally $2/visit).

PROS: Outdoors. Clean, clear water. Part of a beautiful recreation complex. Right in Delray.

CONS: Small. Shallow. No regular masters program.

4) Lake Lytal Pool

Overall, this is a beautiful facility, with a big, clear pool protected by friendly lifeguards accompanied by nice play areas for the kids. Located in West Palm Beach, FL, Lake Lytal is a 50m x 25yard. It is setup so that you swim laps in the yards direction, so that makes it a really wide 25 yard pool. In addition to the water, there is a big slide for the kiddies, 1m and 3m diving boards, ample locker room space, and plenty of parking. I arrived around 3pm, and I was the only swimmer in the pool. However, by 4:00pm the youth swim team arrived, and they filled up every lane. I did not see any masters swimmers. While the website promised lap swimming until 7pm, the youth team boxed me out at 4:15pm.

PROS: Big. Nice facilities. Not crowded (provided you don't go during youth practice). Clean, clear water. Outdoors! Not too expensive ($2.66 per visit).

CONS: No one to swim with. The youth team took over at 4pm and kicked me out. Only 25yards to swim. About a 25 min trip from Delray.

3) Lake Worth Municipal Pool

In terms of the actual structure and in terms of location, this is my favorite of the man-made pools on my list. Lake Worth Municipal pool is located on the beach as part of the Lake Worth Pier. A boardwalk with stores and restaurants is next to the pool, and Lake Worth has plans to put in a Casino on the pier. The pool has dimensions of 50m x 25yard, but this pool is setup with lap lanes in the 50m direction. I was there around 3pm, and there was no more than 4 people in the pool at any one time. There was no youth swim team or masters team that I saw. The building and the walls surrounding the pool were beautifully painted with pictures, in a mural style.

PROS: Absolutely stunning facility and location. 50m lap lanes. Ample parking. Not crowded. Plenty of nearby food and fun at the boardwalk. Beach is right nearby.

CONS: Expensive ($1/hour for parking plus $5 entry fee). No one to swim with.

2) Ocean

By far the most visually stunning of the pools, the ocean is a god-made training facility spanning the perimeter of every continent on the globe. In Delray Beach, there is several miles of guarded beaches, plus endless stretches of unguarded (and serenely uncrowded) beaches. There is no masters team that regularly trains at the ocean, but it is open 24 hours/day. By my count, Delray has four ocean parks (Anchor Park, Atlantic Dunes Park, Sandoway Park, and Sarah Gleason Park), and each has parking, bathrooms, water fountains, and outdoor showers. The ocean reaches south to Cape Horn and North to Santa's Workshop, so triathletes who can't do a flip turn will not run into trouble here.

PROS: Beautiful. Challenging currents and waves. Plenty of onlookers admiring how awesome you can swim. Long. Free. Great hours. Lots of hot girls (especially during spring break).

CONS: No masters team. Occasionally too choppy. Sometimes plagued by seapests (Man O' War, migrating sharks, fat italian guys with ginormous bellies that make them look pregnant).

1) Aquacrest Pool

You're wondering, how could a man-made facility beat God's handiwork at the Ocean? Simple. Aquacrest wins because of the people. Aquacrest has an awesome youth, senior, and Masters swimming program headed by a world class coaching squad. While all of the pools were beautiful, only Aquacrest is home to some of the most amazing people and athletes in the world. For me, no matter how visually stunning the facility, I get a little stale when swimming by myself. Plus, the teams have incredible hours, with 13 practices every week, and with some of the senior swimmers logging upwards of 100km per week. Read that last sentence again. Masters national champions, Ironman Triathletes, Olympic Gold Medalists, and me all have trained here.

The pool is 50m wide. It has a varying lap length, with one section being 25m long and the other 25 yards. Parking is free, and there is plenty of locker room space. The pool has a weightroom that visitors are free to use.

PROS: Beautiful facility. Cheap (45$ for 52 monthly masters practices). GREAT people. Setup for 25m laps. Clean bathrooms. Free parking. Tough competition.

CONS: I wouldn't mind if it were setup in the long course meters direction.


Libby Maxim said... @ March 17, 2009 at 12:34 PM

this is a very good review, loved that fact that you included the ocean as well, the City of Delray should publish it for folks into sport training


darcykaat said... @ March 18, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I will supplement your review with 3 locations, which were not included:
1. YMCA Boynton Beach. A nice facility with 25 yard indoor pool, which is perfect for cold weather and with membership, you get the benefit of the fitness center and 30 plus classes per week.
2. Delray Beach Yacht CLub. A new masters program in the heart of Delray. Run by beach guards, who tend to be the fittest people on the planet. Offers 6 days of practices MWF - 6-7:30 PM & Tu,Th,Sa - 6-7:30AM.
3. FAU/FAST offers a great program for age group and masters swimmers 6 days a week. Long course (50 meters) swimming over 6 months a year.

frey maxim said... @ March 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Nice supplement Darcy, thanks!

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