Pool Explorer: Spieker Pool, UC Berkeley

When I went to grad school in Berkeley I was no great athlete (not that I am one now!), but I enjoyed a dip once in a while, and since I had a subscription to the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) the most convenient venue was the Spieker Pool. Yesterday I went back there for a quick 3k between work commitments and had a lovely time.

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If you are a student, faculty or staff member, it’s worthwhile to buy a semester-long membership. If you just happen to be on campus, $12 buys you a day pass to all UC Berkeley facilities, including three other pools (Hearst, Golden Bear, and Strawberry Canyon.) While not nearly as classic and esthetically pleasing as Hearst, Spieker is a world-class competition venue (50m x 25y). It seems that, when the team is not practicing, they set it up short-course, which was a tad disappointing, but swimming alone in the lane for most of my workout more than made up for it.

The pool is fairly aggressively chlorinated, which is not fabulous, but its open-air configuration lets in sunshine and warmth that somewhat mitigate the unpleasant feeling. People around me were fast and efficient, and though the lifeguards label the many lanes by speed, it was unnecessary when I was there. Each of us had a lane to ourselves.

To business: 3×300 free warmup. 12×150 on descending SPL (from 24 to 18). 3×300 descending. My secret (and unreasonable) hope that Teri McKeever would materialize out of nowhere and offer pointers on my stroke (because she obviously has nothing better to do, like coach future Olympians!) remained unfulfilled, but the Olympian honor wall (which only goes to 2008) was super inspirational. Found Matt Biondi, Natalie Coughlin, and Dana Vollmer – hope they’ll update it and include the newest Olympians of 2012!

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The showers are open (no privacy) and there’s foamy soap; you’ll have to bring the rest with you. There is, however, a swimsuit wringer and a hair dryer. The locker room is enormous; you get a towel, but no lock.



Pool Explorer: Temescal Pool

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This morning I swam a fast 3k workout at the Temescal Pool, located not far from the Rockridge BART station. Admission to the pool is $5 (in exact change), and that gives you access to a 33y, 6-lane outdoor facility, which is especially fun in the sunshine.

The water is fairly heavily chlorinated, but the grossness is somewhat ameliorated by the warm sunshine and little patch of grass. The lifeguards place signs on the lanes–fast, medium, slow–but they sort of play it by ear and let the swimmers sort it out.

For about 10 minutes, I swam alone; then, I was joined by three other swimmers. Circling is par for the course, but everyone is very kind and courteous about it (as has been my longstanding observation, women tend to cede more than men).

My friend Caitlin came up with a fun workout for us: 3×300 warmup, 12×100 fast/stroke/drill, 3×300 cooldown. The 300s also turned out to be sprints, and I couldn’t switch much between strokes on account of the circling, but whenever I inched on someone slower than me, I switched to fly or breast. That worked out pretty well.

The locker rooms are very rudimentary; no individual showers, no locks provided, and you may have to continuously press the shower faucet to get water. But it’s warm and there’s basic soap. The facility opens at 11am sharp on Saturdays and, from what I heard in the locker room, today was an uncommonly quiet day, so try and get there as close to opening hour as you can.

Stay tuned as Humu continues to boldly swim where no fancy club member has swum before: The Bay Area’s public pools!

Pool Explorer: Burlingame Pool

Today involved a complicated and eventful airport drop-off (long story short: car died yesterday; we took BART to the shop to pick it up; sat down to lunch; my much-loved passenger realized he forgot his passport; I drove home to get it; returned to lunch venue; dropped the passenger off; realized it was the wrong terminal; went to the right terminal.) Since I was already in the Peninsula, what better excuse to swim 4.5k at the Burlingame Pool, of which I heard such wonderful things?

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It was a glorious sunny day–perfect for outdoor swimming, so I was very happy that I went. For $7 you get access to a 50m/25y pool, which was set to short course today (but I’m told is frequently set up for long course on Sundays.) There were several people who arrived at about the same time, but there was ample room and I swam my entire workout alone in my lane, which was great. The pool folks set up the lanes so that there is plenty of free space on both sides for kids or people who don’t want to do laps, so no one gets in anyone else’s way and everyone is happy. The water is chlorinated, but not overly so, and I had a lovely, lovely time.

The locker rooms are fairly small, but clean and functional. They provide soap; you have to bring everything else, including a lock.

I think this is a really great location for a long set on a Sunday morning, and much more cheerful than an indoor pool, especially in this season.

Gearing Up for Swim the Suck

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Swimmer profiles for the 2014 Swim the Suck are already on the Facebook page!

It’s going to be such fun. I can’t wait! I’ve already started training, and here’s my plan for the weeks to come:

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I’m using the swim to fundraise for La Casa de las Madres, which provides support and empowerment for survivors of domestic abuse. Please give generously!