Swimming pools in Toronto: A crowd-sourced guide


Summer swimming in Toronto pools is...well, the greatest. They're free (FREE! How lucky are we?!) and there is really nothing better than floating in the middle of the deep end on one of Toronto's scorchers. BUT, each pool has its quirks—at some, you need a quarter for the lockers, at others, a lock. At some, you can bring bags out on the deck, at others, it's a no-go... (The only constant? Always bring flip-flops...!)

The City site has all the hours/different kinds of swims available, but not the small details that make trying out a new pool easy. And so, let's make a list together! Send me your pool insider notes over Twitter: @lindsayzv or at our fancy new IG: @swimmingholeswehaveknown_

If you head to a Toronto pool this summer, let us all know:
- are there universal change rooms? Family change rooms?
- are bags allowed on deck?
- is it accessible?
- what's the locker situation like? Locks? Quarters?
- nearest transit stop? Is there parking?
- is there an area for strollers?
- anything else? Diving boards? A permanent-length lane? Lane ropes during length swim? A good view from the deep end? Sloped entry in the shallow end?

A list of all of Toronto's outdoor pools (addresses and hours): HERE!

Alex Duff Pool (at Christie Pits):
- universal change room
- bring a quarter for the lockers
- stroller parking on deck
- permanent lane for length swim (though it's narrow)
- multiple pools: splash pad pool for kiddos (not always open), shallow pool, regular pool with gradual entry, diving board, water slide!

Alexandra Park Pool
NOTE: under repair for the summer of 2019

Blantyre Pool

- no lockers
- no family washrooms
- very dirty bathrooms
- bags allowed on deck
- strollers allowed on deck
- lots of street parking
- on the #12 TTC bus line
- next to a park

Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pool
- gendered change rooms
- quarters for lockers
- open and curtained showers and changing area
- can take bags on deck
- stairs or elevator from change rooms to pool
- roped off lanes in 50m lane pool
- 25m leisure pool

Giovanni Caboto:
- universal change rooms
- small lockers that require bring-your-own locks
- stroller parking in hallway near entrance
- lane ropes during length swim (usually)
- bags allowed on decks
- ample deck space
- 50m!
- water slide

Greenwood Park Pool:
- lockers (need quarters!)
- can bring bags on deck
- accessible, gendered change rooms
- lane ropes during length swim
- gets pretty full of debris by evening

High Park Pool:
- no universal change room
- quarter for the lockers
- no bags on deck (though this isn't really enforced)
- separate kids' area with a splash pad
- close-ish from High Park subway Station. Parking in High Park (though it's usually full on the weekends)
- water slide!
- sloped entry in the shallow end
- distinct shallow end and deep end
- lane ropes during length swim
- nearby wading pool and splash pad
- note: the water is often *very* cold as the pool's not heated!

Lambton Kingsway Park Pool:
- gendered change rooms
- family change room
- parking available
- near tennis courts and baseball diamonds
- bike parking right outside pool
- bags allowed on deck
- no lockers
- lots of deck space
- entrance ramp
- lane ropes during lane swim (and gets busy after 5pm!)

Monarch Park Pool
- slide, diving board
- strollers/bags allowed on deck
- Note at the end of June 2019: "Due to mechanical issues Monarch Park Outdoor pool will not open as scheduled. Staff are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Opening date is to be determined."

North Toronto Memorial Pool
:

- space to store strollers
- a large amount of bike racks outside
- bags/items can be kept on deck
- sloped entry into the shallow end

Parklawn Pool:
- no lockers, but you can bring bags on deck
- heaps of parking and park nearby
- "family" change room is really far away from the pool and I think you still have to walk through one of the gendered change rooms (unless this has been updated)
- no lane ropes during length swim.

Rotary Peace Park Pool:
- gendered and family change rooms
- 25-cent lockers
- bags allowed on deck
- landscaped fencing and vines around the deck

Riverdale Park East Pool:
- gendered changerooms and a family changeroom
- lockers take quarters
- bags allowed on deck
- *cold* showers!
- the slide is currently closed (as of the end of June)
- Muskoka chairs available on deck
- strollers and pop-up beach tents allowed on deck

Smythe Park Pool:
*it's been closed a lot this summer, so call in advance if you can*
- no universal change rooms (though you can walk straight onto the deck if you're already changed)
- a small kids pool AND a 50m pool
- no bags on deck and no lockers BUT there's an attendant and a place to store your things (or you can just leave your bag by a fence near the pool, inside the facility
- there's also a splashpad nearby
- no lanes during length swim

Sunnyside Pool:
- very strict about the no bags on deck! (You can bring stuff on deck, just no bags!)
- bring a quarter (and a back up!) for the lockers
- permanent width swim (with lane ropes)
- no universal/family change room
- small spot for strollers in the hall on the way to the shower
- very strict about no newspapers on deck
- lots of deck room
- baby car seats and bassinets allowed on deck

West Mall Pool:
- recently renovated
- gendered and universal change rooms
- no lockers
- bags allowed on deck
- outdoor showers
- accessible
- abundant muskoka chairs!







  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019

The first swim of 2019!!!



I woke up on Saturday morning, didn't hear any kids yelling for me and rolled over to go back to sleep, but then remembered IT WAS CHRISTMAS MORNING - a.k.a. opening day for Sunnyside Pool, and I bolted out of bed in a flash.

The first day of outdoor swimming in Toronto is truly my favourite day of the year. It was overcast, and chilly, but nothing can be worse than opening day two years ago (looking at you, nursing baby/thunderstorm/pool fouling...ahem!) and so, I piled swim stuff into my bike basket, remembered a quarter for the locker (and an extra, in case) and headed south to that turquoise I've been dreaming about for the last 10 months.

I was third in line, and when the doors opened exactly at 10am rushed to get dressed. There were no lane ropes in when I arrived (though they ended up putting them in mid-swim) and I was the third person in that huge, glorious pool. The air was crazy cold, the wind vicious, but the water was warm and steam blew off the surface. Cold water swimming I am NOT, so long as I was underwater, it was dreamy.



There were 12 of us in that huge pool. Twelve of us! And until the lane ropes were in, I swam lengths of that enormous pool, and then widths until I was brave enough to hop out and run to the change room.

I was smart enough to pack heaps of layers for the bike ride home—leggings, track pants, wool socks, then three layers on top, including a hood for under my bike helmet. It seemed like overkill, but the air was so brisk, I was grateful for the layers, and even wished I had mitts on the bike ride through High Park.



Here's to hoping the sun makes an appearance and not all summer swims end with winter wear. I am crossing my fingers.

PS: All the pools open soon, but Sunnyside and a bunch of other big pools in the city will be open in the evenings all week, and again next weekend. Pack your trackers and go for a dip!!

PPS: Last year's first Sunnyside swim. And 2017's. And 2016's!



  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 17, 2019

Swimming badge: The SUPERHERO SPLASH


I have to admit something: I hate taking my kid to swimming lessons. I want to love it. I want to feel inspired and excited by the process, and all the potential, but truth be told, I despise the whole thing. I don't have to go in with my oldest anymore, which is a relief (also an impossibility with another (younger) kid in the mix), and I've managed to read a few pages of a book every now and then. Or school through Instagram, or send a few long-overdue emails, but mostly, I just sit on the humid bench hating everything. (Mostly, I just want to trade places. He can sit on the deck, and I can swim. Wouldn't that be amazing? Half the pool for lessons, half for the parents to go for a dip themselves?)

My oldest is not (yet) a fan of the water. It's definitely gotten better. Tuesdays last fall would start at 7am with swim-dread and it would build and build until the 5:30 time slot and it would make the day unbearable. So far, that's subsided, which is a huge relief.

The thing is, I remember HATING swimming lessons. I loved swimming, I loved the water. At my grandparent's cottage, I'd be in the lake minutes after breakfast and would stay in until it was time to roast marshmallows at night, but I HATED swimming lessons back in the city. I'd always fail. I could never tread water. The other side of the pool was always so impossibly far away. Instructors were either too harsh or too chipper and no matter what I always wanted to impress them and always disappointed them.

It's such an intense situation—a tiny window, one-on-one, once a week, charged with expectations. It's such a lose-lose situation, really.

So I get it. Jack, I totally get it. But, as a wise dad friend of mine says, there are two things that are non-negotiable: swimming lessons and school. And so, we eat "bravery unicorns" on the way there, and celebrate with hotdogs afterwards (Side note: I distinctly remember getting McDLTs after my lessons at Norseman Pool!)

Mid-way through the term, my brilliant fella realized that "dunks" were the biggest point of fear, so he re-branded them, "SUPERHERO SPLASHES" and I can't even tell you what a difference that made. It was incredible. Thank god for marketing backgrounds...

Jack finished up last week and got a mama-made badge celebrating his superhero splashes, and my very brave, still-very-scared-of-the-water kiddo tried every week. Really, what more can you ask for?


AND my fella made him the most incredible book—photos of superheroes swimming, alongside photos of Jack in the pool. He just about burst when he saw himself next to a photo of Spidey and it's now fully in the bedtime reading rotation. I'm hoping this softens his memory of the pool, reshapes them even, so that instead of the fear, he remembers his bravery, his courage and the rush of pride in his accomplishments.

Here's to hoping. And to a summer of swimming joy...(it'll be warm enough one of these days, right?!) My goal is to make this summer all about having fun in the water. I want it all to feel lighter, and more playful. I want the pressure to be off. I'm so hoping we can find that, my kiddo and me.





  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 3, 2019

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