Swim choices and gear

I may want a small house, but I would like this in my backyard, please k thx.

I may want a small house, but I would like this in my backyard, please k thx.

So I used up my freebie pass to the gym and tried out the city pool and have been busily mulling over my options. What to do?

The Gym

The gym makes you sign a contract (so lame) but I could buy someone out on Craigslist so I wasn’t roped into something long term. The cost would be about $47 per month (via Craigslist, $60 signing up new). The pros in its favor are: salt water system (easier on my hair & skin), super nice locker rooms and extra amenities like a women’s only hot tub and sauna, massage, and the option to go to a yoga class if I ever wanted. I especially liked their hours: open 24 hours a day. For serious, a before-bed swim is pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

The cons are: shorter than normal lap pool making for weird workout adjustments, the cost was a bit painful, and the contract / commitment. I had high hopes for a summer only pool membership of the nature they offered last year (it was a sweet deal), but they decided they were tired of swim only folks sneaking out of the locker room to do other stuff, so they jacked the price up. Sadface.

The City Pool

The city pool itself is a much better set up for lap swimmers. Pros in its favor: A full 25 yard pool, big time clocks, more lanes, and lots of the stuff swimmers need on hand and free for use: pull buoys, kick boards, even flippers. The pool was clear and clean, and even though there were a lot of people there, the lanes were open and clearly marked “slow, medium, fast.”

Cons: Kind of strange hours, strong chlorine (thus the clean looking pool), and the locker room was really barebones, small, and honestly a little yucky. No extra awesome stuff, plus the price was about the same as a gym membership at $45/month. No contract though, just a month to month thing you can cancel any time.

The College Pool

I was pretty encouraged when I popped into the pool at the college. I had no idea they had punch passes for community members, and the price is really great. $100 for a 40-visit punch pass. The girl told me wrong on the phone, it’s actually pretty similar price-wise to the city pool. $100 for 25 visits. The pool is a full 25 yards, and the locker rooms were okay – not the gym’s level of sweetness, but a smidge better than the city pool. A big, fat con however, is that their only lap swim hours are from 5am to 7am. Ouch. And it’s still an hour round trip for me, so yeesh. As much as I’d love to say I’d rise to the occasion, I just don’t know if I can keep that kind of schedule long term. The facilities are a little on the old side, though improvements seemed to be going on.

Another option

Today Tracy called me after her physical therapy appointment. She’d talked to her therapist about swimming as a low-impact exercise for her, and while she can’t arrange her body in typical swim strokes without injuring herself, there are exercises she can do in the water that would be good for her. The PT suggested a pool I didn’t know existed at one of the hospitals in town. Tracy went to check it out and they have decent rates (you don’t need a doctor’s note or prescription to use the pool) at $30-something a month, and adding a spouse is only $15-something. No contract or anything, and the pool is pretty underused. It’s not great for kids as there are geriatric patients doing PT in the pool sometimes, but they have a couple of lanes for lap swimming and their hours are, while not 24 hour open awesome, much better than the city pool or college pool. It might be a weird size though, the lady thought it was 21 yards (what?) but, we’re going to try it out tomorrow (today actually, I’m up late again) to see what we think. Fingers crossed the locker rooms are clean and not crumbling, and we might have a winner.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

Meanwhile, I’ve used some of my Amazon affiliate payments to purchase some gear and I thought I’d share in case my endless droning about where to swim hasn’t put you to sleep and instead has completely motivated you to take advantage of that awesome pool you’ve got only 10 minutes away.

The Fit SwimmerI already owned this book: The Fit Swimmer : 120 Workouts & Training Tips. I’ve been photocopying the workouts and sticking them in ziplock baggies. Totally old school, but it works. (I’m up to 55 laps without dying, woot!) It goes over technique in the beginning, and has some good info about how to find your speed based on your resting heart rate, and then they get into the workouts, which are clearly laid out and start at beginner level and move up in length and difficulty.

Lap swimming counterWithout a coach to flip lap numbers for me and not being on speaking terms with numbers, I ordered this SportCount LapCounter. I pretty much love it. It fits on my index finger, and I can tap the button with my thumb every time I do a flip turn. I count straight through the entire workout so I can see the total of laps at the end. This one is fairly barebones, I think there are other counters / watches out there that do a whole lot more, but for now this is great.

silicone swim capThis Silicone Swim Cap is made of win. The latex caps we used in high school tore our hair and we had to use baby powder in them to keep them from pulling our hair out. These new silicone ones go on so smoothly, I can’t wait to get a couple for Miss K for swim camp this year, she’ll be so happy.

Speedo I was eyeing this Speedo and had it in my cart for a bit, but the price jumped up. I was also nervous about ordering one online. Speedos are meant to fit really tight and can be hard to get on, and I had no idea really, what my size might be these days, so I wanted to try one on in person. I went to a sports store in town and found a plain black one for $28. It is hard to get up over the, um, mom cushiony thighs and seat, but once it’s on, it’s perfect.

A silly aside: Can I just say that I was kind of worried what I’d look like in it? I mean, I know I look pretty good for having 4 kids and being ill a lot, but it’s been a lot of years since I had 3% body fat and raced in high school, you know? But it really isn’t bad! I’m not about to selfie it up for posterity or anything (ohmygosh), but I was really pleasantly surprised. Maybe because I went in expecting the worst? But for years I’ve worn mom-suits from Lands’ End with the skirts and the shirred tankini tops to kind of disguise the pooch, you know? And speedos leave nothing to the imagination. No boosty bust padding or slimming panels or anything… and my word, it’s really okay. I’ve got dimpled thighs and my stomach isn’t flat, but it’s FINE. And good heavens, no one cares, really. We all look like a bunch of strange plastic heads with alien goggle eyes and nobody at any of the pools I’ve sampled the last two weeks has looked anything remotely like an Olympian.

Alright, moving on. I bought some on-sale goggles for like $5 the same time I bought the suit. I have no idea what kind they are, they’re clear, not mirrored, and they don’t leak or fog. Yay.

Pull Buoy for lap swimmingI got this Pull Buoy, which is much fancier than the ones I remember using. You use these between your thighs or ankles to keep your legs stationary but afloat while you swim only using your arms to work your upper body.

swim paddlesPaddles are helpful when you use the Pull Buoy, and again, these are prettier and fancier than the flat paddles I used back in the day. Pull Buoy and paddles used to be my least favorite drill because I was so much slower with them, and I still am, but it’s less stressful without 40 girls racing past you.

kick boardMy legs were always stronger than my arms, so I really loved kickboard practice and I still do! It’s my total favorite part of the workout, so I usually save it for last.

zoomers!We often did kickboard laps while wearing Zoomers. Mine in high school were red (mom, do you still have them somewhere?) They give you horrible blisters at first, and I remember us wrapping our toes and ankles in bandaids. Then you get used to them, and they remain one of my favorite workouts. I read that the yellow Zoomers are much softer, and since I’m sure my red zoomers are long gone, I ordered them. They do take a little getting used to across the bridge of the foot, but I’m having a lot of fun with them. You push more water, and you can feel the burn all up and down your legs. I could kickboard / zoom all day long. Love it.

Mesh gear bagFinally (FINALLY) I got this FINIS Mesh Gear Bag (Black) to hold all the gear. It is basic, and I probably could have made one but it does the job. The wet stuff can breathe, and I put my swim cap, goggles, and rinsed out suit in it, too.

Okie doke. I’m going to be asleep before 3am, dangit. Nighty night.


  1. says

    Gosh, I am tired even thinking about going swimming. I’m so lazy!!! We have a pool in the estate I live in, nothing too fancy and it’s tiny, but at a two minute drive it’s really handy. I would say go for the nearest pool, that’s the one that will be quicker and easier to use.

    3am??!! You need to break out the melatonin!!

    • says

      It’s not working! I’ve tried what, six nights now? Nothing. I tried 3 Benadryl tonight and it only made me wired. I’ve got to force myself to get up eaaaarrrrlly tomorrow and then NOT take a nap. Think I can do it?

        • says

          Oooh, checking those out. I know I should not kill time on the computer when I can’t sleep. And I usually don’t… but ugh. Some nights I’m like “Okay, I’ve been lying here for 5 hours, so I’m going to blahhhg dang it!”

          • says

            I was the same, but now I wear the glasses as soon as it’s dark, and take my melatonin. They have helped me a lot. Hopefully you can get a handle on it. too Sweet dreams!!

  2. says

    Seconding irishmum; my mom just installed blue light blocker apps on her computer and blue blocking film on her iPad and she sleeps much much better. My aunt too!

    This swim stuff is so fun! The only thing from my youth where I had this level of passion was baton twirling, which I’ve been tempted to pick up again. Your excitement is making me want to bite the bullet and spend $30 on a new baton. (Why is parting with pennies so hard???)

    • says

      So these are seriously awesome. At first I thought what more can it do than the automatic display adjuster built into macs? But I can set it to dim everything except work programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. NEATO.

      I took a baton twirling class when I was a kid! Super fun! Do it!

  3. Valena says

    You are a machine! I love that you’ve been able to find some great options for places to swim, and I’m in love with your gear!! Thanks for sharing… Wishing I had pennies to buy those zoomers, but I know what I’ll be saving for next!

    Hopefully you can get some sleep soon!!

    • says

      I had high hopes for Mountain View Hospital pool this afternoon, but it is HOT so the patients doing PT will be comfy. Nice facility though.

      Anyway, thanks!

  4. Kate says

    My heart belongs to salt water pools times a thousand, so I would have to go with that option. PLUS, open 24 hours a day? How great would it be to go for a swim in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep?

    • says

      The difference on my skin and hair is pretty amazing. Honestly, I’m leaning in that direction, especially after our test swim at the hospital today. Nice facilities, but the pool was HOT! And I super agree on the pool hours :oD

  5. Natalie says

    Hmmm… I say go for the gym membership. The only thing that would be annoying (to me) is the shorter pool. Why do people build pools that way?! Especially a gym! What is the length of the gym pool?

    A few months ago I was checking out gymnastics clubs for my daughter. The $50 a mo. price tag got me and I decided to pass on it (for now). If you think about it … $50 for four 45-min tiny tot gymnastics classes vs. $47 for 24 access to an adult gym with yoga classes and a pool. Way better deal!

    Thanks for all the swim stuff recommendations. SOMEDAY I will get to do this, too.

    • says

      I think that’s the direction I’m leaning… even though the nutty used car salesman aspect of the gym membership sales drives me batty. The length of the gym pool is short too :( 20 yards instead of 25. So dumb!! But if I do a workout plus a 1/3rd of the workout again, it works out without too much crazy math.

  6. Laura says

    Oh, this post makes me so happy! I miss swimming. So excited that you’re going to make it happen! Do let us know which pool you choose.

    • says

      Thanks Laura! I’m leaning to the gym pool after this afternoon’s swim at the hospital. It was just too hot, nice pool though!

  7. Grandma Debbie says

    Red zoomers? I haven’t seen those in years! I can picture them, but I haven’t seen them forever.
    Awesome sauce you are doing this. Awesome you can fit happily into a speedo. Awesome equipment. It makes me tired even thinking of swimming, but then you didn’t get this swim / fish gene from me. I wonder if they have gyms for sedentary quilters??? xoxox

    • says

      Ha ha! You’ve landed on a business idea mom. A gym catered to sedentary quilters… where Anne of Green Gables is playing and the break rooms have quilting frames and sewing machines instead of tanning beds. Hee!


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