Washington Park Pool

Hey there blog readers.

Over the course of 5 years in Hyde Park, I've heard a lot of things about nearby Washington Park -- I've seen it on the news, I've learned some of its troubles, I've witnessed its cameo appearance in 'Freakonomics' (the book, not the movie...there was a movie, right?). And over the course of these 5 years, I've stayed this side of Cottage for all but the most pressing excursions. It just didn't seem worth it.

And then it got hot.

I have a noisy, active, fearless toddler. Days spent entirely indoors get long. Loooooooooooong. But she (like I, post-pregnancy) has no tolerance for the heat, so we are either relegated to play dates (which would be fine if naptime weren't totally unpredictable these days), finding museums (expensive, unless you can navigate the free day calendar and their crowds), or shopping (more expensive, and not that productive...S is an excellent partner for dancing, for messily devouring Whole Foods gelato while still in the store, and destroying block towers...but she's not great at trying things on, and she prefers to look at herself in the mirror and then run screaming through the aisles to doing anything else in the store).

Our neighbors (whom we adore) suggested the pool. We said "we're in."

It's bigger than I expected, and cleaner. We went during family swim (9:15-10:15 weekdays), which I can whole-heartedly recommend. None of the violence or teenage nastiness others have told me to expect, none of the craziness at all, in fact. Just a nice, big pool with a hefty zero-depth area (perfect for your wee ones), a handful of fountains (for jumping through, not drinking), and a big waterslide (you might be tempted to take your intrepid toddler down said slide, simply lifting her up at the end like other parents do with their older children...this might be fun, and it might also end with you accidentally dunking your child underwater...no parent-child excursion is complete without a little guilt, of course).

The locker rooms are old and not in great shape, but they're relatively clean and packed full of the same people we encountered in the pool: nice elderly women there to do laps; handfuls of reasonably-behaved kids with daycare providers, nannies, and parents; and camp participants there with counselors. No teenagers in sight!

We had an absolute blast today, and I'm certain we'll be back plenty over the rest of the summer. You can find all the hours, etc, here and I'm certain we'll see you there.

I'll be the one holding my toddler high above my head as we go down the slide.

Stay cool, Hyde Park!

Filed under: Hyde Park Places


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  • It is a beautiful pool that can be either underused or overcrowded, depending on time and weather. A few comments:
    1. I've been swimming laps there for at least 10 years. At age 51, I'm barely getting used to thinking of myself as middle-aged, let alone elderly (though I hope I am still swimming when I reach elderly).
    2. The absence of teenagers points to a problem with the scheduling. The family swim in the morning co-exists with "TEAM sports" which is a no-fee swim program for 6-12 and 13-18 year olds. Except no one appears to be attending at this particular pool. Either time of day, the publicity, or the program name is bad. Most likely all three. I have heard that the weekend learn to swim time is well-attended.
    3. If you do not fit neatly into a slot, you should raise the issue. Not sure they will change anything for this summer, but at least they should hear if this is a problem for many. (most common: not available for the a.m. family swim time? you could take your children to open swim time, but only if you and they are all the same gender).
    4. Even during family swim time, they will not let your opposite gender child over age 5 into the "wrong" locker room. You can show up already suited and ask them to let you through the center door, which is not a locker room, if you are not comfortable with your opposite gender seven year old going through the other locker room.

  • Thanks for your comment, Susan -- these are all good points. I can imagine there are a lot of families for whom "family swim" doesn't occur at an opportune time of day (9:15-10:15 is a sweet spot for good nappers!...or so I hear).

    And for the record, I would hardly place 51 in the same neighborhood as elderly!

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