Roadtripping: The Elora Quarry


After last year's cold, thunderstorm-y and small baby-filled summer, I've decided to stuff two summer's worth of fun into one. I don't think I've slept since mid-June, but I kind of don't care. It's all fun all the time full steam ahead until the pools close, (and even then, I'm not sure it'll stop!)

And so, in the spirit of ALL SUMMER ALL THE TIME, on Friday we packed a picnic, and a pile of towels and drove up through Guelph to the Elora Quarry. (I realized on the drive up that the last quarry I swam at was 8 (!) years ago in Nebraska!)

The 1.5h drive is so southern Ontario – the sprawling lanes of the 401, then moving on to small highways and fields of what might be wheat, and small towns and smaller towns, and roadside signs for eggs and strawberries. You have to drive through the adorable little town of Elora, but we didn't stop – there was a quarry to get to!


We pulled in with a screaming baby (not ideal), but I got to nurse her in the parking lot with a view of the quarry (totally ideal!). The lot is perched at the top of the quarry, with 40 foot rock faces plunging down to the almost-Lake Louise green water below.

The walk down to the water is beautiful – all trees and more trees, shading the walk (Apparently there is a hiking loop around the water).

And then just like that, the trees end and give way to a beach. It's not a huge beach, and there is very little shade, but it's a beach! And there is water! And we met up with our pal and her kiddos and it was so perfectly summer, I still have to pinch myself.

We got there at 11:30am and the beach was already starting to fill up. We spread out our towels and picnic blankets, and changed right there (though there are changerooms, bathrooms, too, but I was too lazy to walk back, and put my patented went-to-dance-school-quick-change skills to work).


There's a little roped off shallow end off the beach that is perfect for little kiddos. It's pretty rocky though (it is a quarry after all!) and I know my 3.5-year-old would've wanted water shoes if he had been with us.

On the far side of the rope, it's still pretty shallow for a few more feet and then it just drops off.

We played with the kids in the shallows for a while (marvelling at our baby's deep insatiable love of water!), and then I took off for a swim around the quarry, dodging a flotilla of blow-up unicorns and swans and hippos and flamingos. It's not big – it maaaaaybe took 10 minutes to swim the circumference, but it's so lovely. The water is thick and green in the sun, and there are weeds along the very edges, but not in the middle. Doing a back float right in the centre, with the rock faces towering above is magical.

I could've floated in the centre of that quarry all day.

After we swam and splashed and splashed and floated, we picnicked, (because OF COURSE WE DID!) and I'm not sure there's anything more delicious than post-swim farmer's market cherries and handfuls on handfuls of popcorn, even with handfuls of sand mixed in!

I didn't ever want to leave, but baby naps and daycare pickups, etc etc, and so we hit the road...

Stops we couldn't make because the overtired baby was finally asleep, but I wish we had:
- there's a side of the road flower stand on the 86 near Ariss – bring change/small bills!
- there's a chip truck right across from the parking lot at the Quarry. I will dream of those too salty chips until I can actually try them
- ice cream in Elora. Dang sleeping baby...


Practical details:

*The maximum capacity is 1,300 which seems IMPOSSIBLE, but there you have it. It sounds from the website like that happens sometimes, so go early if you can. It's open from M-F from 11am-8pm and on the weekends from 10am-8pm.

*It's open till Labour Day (though I've been warned it gets a little funky come mid-August).

*The park fees are here.

*We took our own PFDs, but apparently they have a lifeguard loaner program with a "small refundable deposit" - ask at the gatehouse when you park!

*No booze or dogs!

*Here's the official site

*Also, there's tubing down the Elora Gorge which everyone raves about, so if that's your jam, here's how to get there!
  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Swimiracle


Last year, every time I figured out childcare and the delicate timing between breastfeeding and napping a 4-month-old, I'd arrive at the pool to locked doors. I swear there were thunderstorms every other day last summer. But somehow, last week, I managed a veritable swimming miracle—a swimiracle, if you will.

The sun shone all day, like it has been every day for days and days, but clouds started rolling in around 5, and I started realizing the swim I had been looking forward to all week (okay, ALL YEAR) was probably not going to happen. I got grumpier and grumpier. I may have even thrown a mini-tantrum. But then, after dinner, the skies starting clearing up, and the sun started shining. I decided to chance it, my terrible thunder stormed track record be damned.



The drive to Smythe Park Pool is a strange one – you take a barely marked winding road off Scarlett Road and then there are trees and more trees, and even more trees, and then a Canada Goose settling down in the centre of the road. And then all of a sudden, a pool. A 50m pool – a rare unicorn in west-end City-run pools.

The changerooms were grimier then most making flip flops essential, BUT the pool was huge – 50 metres seems extra big when you're used to 25m – and it was mostly empty, with trees overhanging and planes flying overhead.

It had just opened after being closed for the earlier bout of thunder. How did I manage to catch this open window? I didn't have time to hesitate, there was 50 metres of turquoise perfection to swim through. Not even the belligerent intoxicated man could ruin my bliss (and thanks to the guard who could see what was happening and intervened quickly!).

My fast lane pal, who tipped me onto this pool, wasn't there, but another fast lane pal was, and I even heard one swimmer say that the three of us in the centre lanes were professional swimmers. Not even close (it might've been our bathing caps more than our swimming that tipped him off), but I'll take it!

The radio was blasting Wish You Were Here, the music was tinny and a bit staticky, like every on-deck radio should be. It is not a fancy pool, but it is a wonderful pool (with the most expansive interlock brick deck!)

I haven't been swimming in a 50m pool since university days (when I fell in love in the fast lane) and it is such a different pace. It's long when you're used to turning around every 25m, getting the push off the wall. My thoughts felt bigger somehow. Not that I was able to hang onto any great insights, but it felt good, having the time to let my thoughts meander.


I even saw some sort of bird of prey being attacked by a red winged black bird as I swam. The week-long heat wave broke mid-swim and the clouds started collecting in a dark grey mass over the northwest edge of the pool.

The minute the 45-minute length swim was up, the rain started. It was pouring by the time I got home – lightning, thunder, the sky the colour of Orange Crush, the works. I still can't believe my luck – that the rain and thunder held off until I had gotten my swim in, but it did and it felt like confirmation that last year's rained out stretch is firmly in the past.



  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pretending to be Marilyn Bell



I showed up at Sunnyside for a lunch time dip, only to find it closed (whhhhhhy do I go without checking?!) but I was already there, with a suit and towel, and Claire was with our beloved caregiver, so for the first time since 2010, I hopped in the lake and swam! It was chilly but lovely, and I screamed at a very big fish, and the lifeguard escorted me with a rowboat and I felt like Marilyn Bell, sans pablum and eels.




These full, closed pools are breaking my turquoise blue heart!

  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The first Sunnyside swim of the year


Glory be! It's here! It's actually here - the first outdoor pool swim of the year. I've been waiting for this day since the day after Labour Day last year and after biking by an empty Sunnyside Pool for moooooonths, it was full and the sun shone and then it was Saturday at 10am and I got to swim!

Last year's first swim of the season was a wretched disappointment. It seems funny now, how hard it was to find a window to leave the house with a 2-month-old, how meticulous I was about packing and how thrilled I was about biking down to my happy place, only to find out someone had pooped in the pool, followed by a thunderstorm. Okay, maybe it's still a little early to be entirely funny...

But this year is not last year! The baby is 14 months old and needing me less and less, and my plan was to swim first thing in the morning so there was no chance of poop getting in the way of my swim. The atmosphere in the change room is usually fairly perfunctory, but everyone was positively jubilant. 


I was the fifth one in the clear, turquoise blue pool and it was pure heaven. I realized swimming length after length (or, well, width after width), that the first Sunnyside swim of the year is a combination of New Year's and the start of the school year. I can't help but remember all of the first swims that came before, reflecting on where I was then, who I was then, and where and who I am now. It's like all those years of Lindsay are swimming at the same time.

I will admit that Saturday wasn't the warmest and at the 45 minute mark, I couldn't feel my hands, but then came the best part: sitting on the deck, watching the wonder that is a public pool filling up - all of the different ways to swim, all of the different bodies, the different suits, the riot of beach towels. And because it was the most glorious swim in the history of swims, I then met a trio of fellow swimmers who were wonderful company (and because Toronto is a small town, we of course had heaps of friends in common) and I left the deck with an invitation to Monday night bocce ball. Man, I love this city!

Kerry Clare sums it up perfectly: "I love public pools, where everybody just shows up on hot days. I love all the bodies, the splashing, the obnoxious people, the towels spread out on the deck, the way the water cools you down just like that, and how my children have turned into little fish. The swimming pool is everything I love about living the city." (You can read the full post here - it's wonderful and full of all things summery!)


This weekend must've been charmed because I got to swim on Sunday as well - a much warmer swim and I had to tear myself out of the water and bike home to my family where I convinced them all to put on suits and sit in the tiny wading pool in the backyard...I will make swimmers of them yet!

To Summer 2018 and all the swim fun ahead!




  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 Summer Swim Goals


It's June 1st, which means the countdown to swimming in Toronto's outdoor pools IS ON! I follow a lot of UK lidos on Twitter and watching them fill with that incredible turquoise blue makes me so envious - BUT, my beloved Sunnyside opens on Saturday June 16, and most of the other pools open the following weekend.

Last year's opening weekend was, ahem, less than successful, so I have great hopes for this year's!

Here's a chart with the opening dates of alllll the outdoor pools!

So while I wait for the chlorinated blue to fill the pool, I've been thinking about my 2018 summer swim goals.

So far, I've got:
- 50m evening swim at Smythe Pool with my fast lane pal
- taking my 14-month-old for her first Toronto swim (last year didn't count...!)
- a week of lake swimming
- a Lake Ontario dip off The Island
- a swim in The Beaches
- a roadtrip to the Elora Quarry
- getting a new bathing suit
- a dinosaur park/picnic/swim combo with my kiddos
- a SHWHK team swim!

Anything else I should add to my summer swim list?

  • Lindsay
  • Friday, June 1, 2018

FOUND: Our 2018 swimming uniform


The outdoor pools are still 6 weeks from opening and the lakes and rivers are still just a degree from frozen, BUT I've found our Swimming Holes We Have Known Summer of 2018 swimming uniform: Harry and Meghan swimsuits to pair with our Team Mermaid caps!!!

I jest! They're so awful! (The positioning of Harry's beard slays me!) But also, I kind of want one cus they're SO CREEPY!

(Thanks to Teen Vogue for the find).
  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Swim-art: Aquafit beauties



One of the best parts about this blog are the pool/lake/swimming hole, swim-lit and swim-art recommendations that come my way. And this weekend, fellow morning swimmer Kerry Clare sent along this incredible swim art—artist Suzanne Moreau is painting all of the women in her aquafit class in her series, Bathing Beauties. Aren't they stunning? They're up at the Kent Farndale Gallery in Port Perry.



Makes me wish I could a) paint/draw and b) had painted/drawn all of my fast lane pals over the years, people whose names I don't remember, and maybe never knew, but people who I spent hours next to, trading small bits of our lives in the shallow end.

*Photos of the art courtesy of Suzanne Moreau



  • Lindsay
  • Friday, May 4, 2018

Swim-ventures: The Argentina edition


Before heading to Argentina this winter (their summer!), a friend who had spent the last year there warned me that pools aren’t easy to find. She scoured the neighbourhood we were staying in and found a few – most in hotels, but a few others and I went down with a suitcase full of bathing suits, all set to swim on the regular.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I swam at a palace and it was glorious, and then the baby got sick and I got sick and my pool hunt went on hiatus. And then when I dove back in (though not literally, sob), I was striking out left right and centre. Nearby hotel pools did not have day passes, not even outrageously expensive day passes and getting a room at a hotel within walking distance of our flat seemed ridiculous. There was a pool in the basement of the university’s law department – a huge, imposing building with a million columns, and another at a techno-heavy gym on the same street as one of our favourite parks, but my Spanish was terrible and figuring out schedules and passes was daunting. Despite the blazing heat and the 3 bathing suit stores on every block, there were no public pools, or splash pads to be found.


BUT, there was Parque Norte – a 30-hectare water park with a bajillion pools just a short cab ride away. It was my swimming solace. So, one morning, we sunscreened up and packed an epic picnic and took a cab over…only to discover it was closed for the season. END OF THE SEASON?! IT WAS 35 DEGREES! But it turns out summer ends at the end of February there, and it was the first week of March. Also, it turns out Argentinian websites are notoriously out of date/not updated. It was a pool fail of epic proportions and my fella had to flag down a cab on the side of a highway to get home.


There was one teeny little pool on a rooftop in the swanky Palermo neighbourhood I got to dip into briefly, and a short dip in Uruguay and after consulting with my Argentinian Instagram pals, we decided it was time to head to the ocean.

We drove for 5 hours past fields and fields of cows – it felt like we were in the middle of Saskatchewan, with the odd roadside parilla and queso-selling farm stand.  The ocean seemed impossible far away. But we kept on and drove through a thick pine forest. It felt like those cottage roads, where the sun is suddenly filtered through trees, dappling the dirt road. We drove until the dirt road gave way to sand and there we were, at our hotel for the weekend. The air went from smelling like pine to smelling like salt.

“You have to be patient, Mommy,” my 3-year-old kept insisting as my fella and the hotel employee traded Google translated sentences. 

The sun was already on its way down and I was grateful I had packed a bag with just bathing suits and towels. We grabbed the key to our room and grabbed the bag and headed for the beach, just steps from our door.

The Atlantic was loud and much rougher than I had imagined. This was not a swimming ocean. In true LZV form, I got in to my knees, the undertow pulling at my legs, and bailed. I took a break, watched the wind whip my baby’s wispy hair, and then went back in and dove through the waves. The water was warm, the air was cold and it was perfect.

That night, we walked home from dinner along the sandy road, and down to the beach. We held our babies under the Milky Way and listened to the crashing waves and showed the kids Mars, and marvelled at this glorious life we’ve made, our great luck, our great fortune.


The next morning, I woke up early, before the baby even. I could’ve settled in for another hour of sleep, but the sun was rising over the ocean and I could see it from our bedroom window, so I flung the curtains open and Adam made me coffee to take with me to the beach. It was far too rough to swim, and the water was filled with surfers. So many surfers in fact that I felt like I was living in that Keanu Reeves movie with the surfing bank robbers.

I’m used to calm water and fixed shorelines – northern Ontario lakes. The unpredictability of the ocean terrifies me, the churning white, the relentlessness of the waves.


We spent the day on the beach, and though I couldn’t swim-swim, it didn’t much matter. We made sand castles and collected shells and ran in and out of the water, my hair thick with salt. Both kiddos stood in the ocean for the first time and I beamed so hard my face hurt.


There was an epic storm that night, lightning, thunder, rain, the works and when we woke the next morning, the waves were so ferocious, there weren’t even any surfers in the water. The wind whipped so fast I was afraid it’d knock the 3-year-old over completely and we drove home without going for one final dip.

I didn’t see water again until I got home, slipping back into the centre lane of the pool I think of as “mine”. It’s boring and predictable and I’m already plotting my next ocean visit, but it’s also lovely and predictable and I’ve missed the muted, meditation of length after length after length.


  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A dip in the world's widest river



The feeling I used to have moments before a first date is the same feeling I get before I swim in a new body of water – a trill in my sternum, tiny bubbles floating inside my arms. I get nervous and chatty and fidgety. My whole face aches from smiling, beaming.

I wasn’t planning on swimming in Uruguay. I wasn’t even planning on BEING in Uruguay, but I was in Buenos Aires for a month with my family and Colonia, Uruguay is an hour-long boat ride away, and so, we packed a picnic and a lot of sunscreen and headed across the strangely purple Rio de la Plata for an afternoon.

I almost didn’t swim in the river – I forgot a suit, and a towel and we didn’t have much time before we’d have to head back to the hovercraft*. And the water was a thick, muddy purple that was a bit suspect (Wikipedia has since assured me it’s just silty and shallow, hence the purplish grey colour). But it was hot, so, so hot and other people were swimming, so, I stripped down and half-skinny dipped in the world’s widest river on a sunny afternoon in March.


 It was shallow. SO shallow. And so rocky, but it was warm and glorious and floating staring up at a sky that is far away from home is one of my greatest pleasures.

I also learned that muslin baby blankets are PERFECT substitute towels.

Fun facts I’ve learned since: The Rio de la Plata is home to a rare breed of dolphin that swims in both salt and fresh water. It is NOT home to alligators, thank god, a fact that didn’t cross my mind until my sister texted me, horrified.



*It was technically a hovercraft, which sounds amazing, and extra amazing for any Paw Patrol fans out there, but was really just a huge ferry…
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, April 2, 2018

A swim in an Argentinian Palace: The Palacio Duhau




Today, I went swimming in an Argentinian palace. I'm still pinching myself and if my hair wasn't still wet, I might think it was just the most beautiful daydream.

But I did. I swam in a beautiful old palace, the Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires—just blocks from our apartment. 



I'd been in Argentina for a week already—a glorious week of picnics, coffee, steak, malbec, gold street lamps and the bluest skies. But no swimming and I was starting to dry up. A friend who spent last year in BA warned me that swimming isn't easy here, pools are hard to find, and even harder to get into. (Though there are bathing suit stores on every block...!)



But then this morning, I ducked under some palm trees and walked through the glorious, imposing gates of the Park Hyatt. It's an enormous indoor pool with lights that shift depending on the time of day—from sunrise to after sunset. Most hotel pools are so tiny and dinky, made for splashing, not swimming, but this is a proper POOL. I watched a family of kids invent a pool noodle tag-like game and then swam length after length next to a fellow swimmer (chatting about swimming in my terrible Spanish!) I swam my heart out for a full hour before retreating to the hot tub AND sauna. It was positively glorious.


I can't thank Luján and Paula enough for the wonderful dip. I can't recommend it highly enough!


(Had to sweat it out in the sauna in honour of Rhya, our ultimate sauna fan)

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, February 26, 2018

Swim-ventures: The Argentina Edition

The pool at the Four Seasons Buenos Aires (photo from the Four Seasons BA Instagram)

I love swimming (but you already knew that). And the only think I love more than swimming is travel-swimming! New pools! New lakes! New oceans!

In four (!) days, I'm going to be packing up my suit and my little family and heading to Argentina for full-on summer and a tour of as many Buenos Aires pools as I can manage!

Fellow Swimming Holes swimmer, Laura has already ventured to Argentina with this glorious meditation on Patagonia blue and a pool-side fairytale in Mendoza, and I've gotten some incredible pool tips from new swimming Instagram and Twitter pals. I promise to take a million pictures and share all of the joy that is BA-swimming! I've also got a bunch of Love Lettering Project envelopes packed, because I have a feeling a bunch of these pools are worthy of big epic love...

On the very top of my list is the outdoor pool at the Four Seasons BA - the photo at the top. Please note: I will probably die from joy if I get a dip in!

And then there's this rooftop beaut at the PanAmericano Hotel:



And this 30 HECTARE (!) pool extravaganza. THIRTY HECTARES OF SWIMMING! I can't wait!

The Park Hyatt pool looks promising and there's an Olympic-sized pool just a bit outside of the city that I might try to venture to! We are also planning to find the ocean at some point too, because, well, I am part-mermaid and I need me some salt water.

I've got a lot to do in the next few days, but I just keep watching the Olympics and staring at photos of Argentinian pools. The only things I have packed so far are airmail envelopes, a picnic blanket and goggles, but that's all I need, right?!

P.S.: if you have any other must-swim BA pools, let me know!


  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, February 15, 2018

The momentous days


My son learned how to blow bubbles last week. In the bathtub, not a pool, because who wants to haul a kid to swimming lessons and back home again when it’s -20. It was momentous and we cheered and cheered, all four of us clapping and high five-ing in our tiny bathroom. It is already one of the highlights of my year. (Also, he's currently reading "Swimming Swimming" to himself, though he really just skips through the swimming pages until he gets to the page where the characters eat ice cream).


Though he just figured out how to blow bubbles, he somehow passed swimming lessons in the early days of December. It was the first time I didn’t take him and, I admit, it was a relief, not having to confront my deep love of swimming with his ambivalence that teetered on a full rejection...but he went, every week with my fella and they’d sing songs and dunk themselves under the water to varying degrees of upset and they’d come home and we’d all eat grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles for lunch.

My comfort is that I also was ambivalent about swimming as a young kid. I distinctly remember the claustrophobic heat of Memorial Pool, the sheer terror of having to make it all the way across to the other side of Park Lawn Pool, my complete inability to tread water (I failed Red at least 3 times). 

In fact in 1985, I "could not muster up enough endurance to complete the distance requirement", and baaaaaarely passed Pre-School 5 with, and I quote: "Lindsay must continue to work hard to further develop her endurance on her front."

Look at me now, Andrew Solomon (who is probably now in his mid-50s), I want to say as I spend every free waking minute I have swimming. Look at my hours-long front crawl

And so, instead of celebrating check marks on a report card, I remind myself that blowing bathtub bubbles is far more important...



Related: a high school chum promised her daughter a badge for this round of swimming lessons, only to learn there aren’t badges! (GASP, THE HORROR!) so she commissioned me to make a penguin badge. I can’t wait till report card day!
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, January 29, 2018

New Year's Swim-olutions



I love the clean slate of a new year – the still water/pool to yourself potential of it all. And I make resolutions every year. Last year, I had a hunker-down-and-get-through-it year. Not to say there wasn't joy and goodness, there was heaps of both, but I was pregnant to kick it off and having a hard pregnancy and then I was in newborn-land and I learned from the first time around that hunkering down is key (for me!). But sometime in December, not long after I found a new pool, I realized I had turned a corner. The baby needed me less and I needed me more and so, my resolution for 2018 is to fill myself up – reading, hanging with my favourite people as often as I can, wonderful meals, writing, travelling (big adventures ahead!), not working all the time, and of course, swimming.

I realized in writing out my highlights of 2017 that many were swimming related (unsurprising!) and also that most of my other highlights were tangentially related to swimming. I came up with titles for important projects, solved Love Lettering Project logistics and figured out key components for the novel I'm working on. Over the holidays, I even came up with the premise for a kids' book I've since written in the pool, and that's to say nothing of the personal stuff my brain sorts out while I'm doing length after length of front crawl. Swimming is like my brain's coin sorter, where you pour a bunch of change in the top of a machine and it shakes and sorts it all until all the dimes are separate from the nickels, separate from the quarters and realize you've had $53.51 in change sitting in a mason jar in your front hall all this time.

And so my resolution is to swim. As often as I can. For as long as I can. But also that the length of time doesn't matter so much as the getting in the water. I've even started getting a babysitter to watch my baby just so I can swim.

Even though I split my bathing cap on the first swim of the year (and have decided to see it as more time to get a haircut than as an inauspicious start to the year!),  my first swim of the year was a glorious hour-long swim while a snowstorm raged outside. And eight days in, I've already had a few solid 2018 swims so far with another on its way in mere minutes.

To swimming, and all the goodness it brings...
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, January 8, 2018

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