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Pool research, option 1: Snohomish Aquatic Center
Press Your Luck
christopher575
The maintenance closure of my swim center is a month away, but I felt like finding my alternate pool right away. Well, that's not entirely true. What I wanted was to visit Japanese Gulch, but after yesterday's crazy rain, I knew that even if I entered from the top and followed the center trail, I wouldn't be able to go very far. Not really worth it.

I spent some time yesterday researching the options on the flyer the pool attendant gave me yesterday and eliminating options. The high school pools were easy to eliminate; the hours are awful. Lynnwood's got a big swim center, but it's a little farther than I'd like to go. Same goes, doubly so, for Mountlake Terrace. The YMCA in Mukilteo's pretty close, but they only offer lap swimming in the morning, whereas Everett's YMCA has laps in the morning as well as recreation swimming any time.


So, Everett YMCA made the list of pools to check out, along with the Snohomish Aquatic Center, which susandennis recently raved about. You can sign up for a free day pass at the YMCA, but since I didn't know how long that would take, I set out for Snohomish. The pool's about nine miles away and the drive's pretty pleasant, though it was quite dark on the way out. The rural road that leads out there isn't lit, so it's quite an adventure.

The facility is stunning.

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I talked to the attendant at the front desk for a minute and she hadn't heard about the upcoming closure at my normal pool. She explained that I could tread water in a lane if I felt like it or try out the recreation area and see what I thought. She mentioned that walking against the current in the river section's an option, but once I was in there and saw how many people were walking with the current, I didn't feel like trying to play chicken with them.

There's a cool circular section inside one of the loops of the river, which is a figure eight. Inside that circle, the current is basically a whirlpool. I spent quite a bit of time in there trying to swim against the current. It's a lot of work, and you can't do it very long because the curve of the wall makes you turn too much I ended up flipping around. So the routine became swim really hard against the current, allow if to flip me over, float around the circle back to where I started, flip over, and swim against the current again. I also tried walking against the current, which was surprisingly difficult.

I did all that for half an hour and decided to see if there were any lanes open. There are ten lanes, and by that time, the super serious athletic swimmers had taken off, and five lanes were free. So I grabbed one and decided to give lap swimming a go, and you know what? I didn't hate it! I mostly dogpaddle, so my neck would get pretty tired. I compensated for that by doing backstrokes about a third of the time. Well, not a real backstroke, but the kind of backstroke someone who dogpaddles does; floating on my back, kicking hard, using my hands but certainly not throwing my arms up over my head or anything. Next time, I'll use my goggles and keep my head down in the water more.

After thirty minutes of laps, I got out and was planning to leave, but I noticed the river was completely empty, so I decided to relax in there for a while. It's a lot warmer than the lap pool, so it felt great. For a while, I curled up into a floating ball facing up and let myself spin around in the circle part. Then I swam with the current in the rest of the river, which was the most fun I had the whole time. It was almost like flying since you don't have to put in very much effort to go quite fast. Unfortunately, the hot tub is currently out of service, so I couldn't try that out just yet.

The locker room is huge, and nice. My normal pool's locker room is run down, with coin-operated lockers, half of which are broken anyway. I even made myself a safety pin clasp because the safety pins are missing from nearly all of the locker keys. You get to use your own lock at Snohomish, and the lockers are huge, with a shelf and hooks in every single one. And a bench to sit on that runs the length of all the lockers! The shower water at Snohomish is a little too cold, while the drinking fountains are a little too warm, but I can deal.

Everything at Snohomish is saltwater instead of chlorine, which I really like. And while the showers aren't very warm, there are tons more of them, in private stalls instead of one big group shower. And they have a suit spinner to get the extra water out. It was my first time using one of those.

I'd be surprised if I end up choosing the YMCA as my substitute pool, even though it's only two miles away. I'm still checking it out sometime early next week, though. When I got home today, I signed up for a day pass today that expires in a week. Snohomish will make an excellent substitute pool, and honestly, I could see myself going there a lot even when my pool's open again. It's just that nice. I see more laps in my future, and I'd much rather do it there instead of in one of the three lanes at my normal pool.

I think I'll also study up on, you know, actual swimming techniques. My last swimming lesson was 35 years ago and I really can't remember how to do it properly.

Oh speaking of proper swimming, a new suit I ordered just got here. I switched to a square-cut speedo-style suit a while back, and I'll never go back to trunks for swimming when it's for exercise. Back when I was wearing big baggy trunks and treading water, I'd always end up breaking out. My guess is that the fabric moved around too much, which made the hair move around too much and get irritated. Ever since I switched to something smaller and tighter, I've had no issues. This is the one I'm currently wearing, and I love it, but I also know that swimsuits can die pretty suddenly.

This new one fits ok but it has no drawstring. That worries me a little, especially with the jets in the river part of the pool, but I'll still try it out. I ordered a third, but it's coming from China and might take a while.

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That all sounds amazing. Now I'm kind of sorry I didn't investigate the recreation area more. Maybe next time.

You just reminded me one thing I forgot to mention that I liked that was true of both sides: music, playing loud enough to hear, on a nice sound system. But my new iPod for swimming arrived today so I suppose that doesn't matter now.

Cool!!! As you may have read, I cannot imagine swimming without mine. :) Enjoy!

The pool sounds fantastic! I've never been in a pool with salt water - chlorine really irritates my skin and salt water sounds really good.

I think the trick with swim suits is to rinse the pool water out as soon as you can.

I go straight to the shower and rinse out my suit and then wring the water out. And never machine wash it.

I can't say for sure, but the salt water seemed like it made me even more buoyant than normal, especially when I was zooming around in the river part.

I've been wanting a swim spa at home, which if you're not familiar, is like a big hot tub that has a current you can swim in place against. Now I need to check if it can be done with salt water. Not that I can afford one any time soon.

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