I know I know. Just wait a sec. I know any Tampa natives reading this post are all cringing in unison. Give me a chance to explain.
When I moved to Seminole Heights last winter, I really didn’t have swimming on the brain. But as summer approached, the though of driving to my usual pool in SOG (South of Gandy), Bobby Hicks, just seemed daunting. Especially if I wanted to swim regularly. Another pool that I had frequented was Brandon Aquatics off 60. Another long trek just a for an hour or so worth of time. As the summer progressed on I decided that I would start exploring some of the pools locally, and see what the new neighborhood had to offer.
As I began to research I found that most of Tampa’s public city pools are in, well, undesirable areas (meaning low income, high crime, and even poverty stricken in some cases), deterring most people from even attempting to leave their cars parked in the lot, much less swim. With blinders on, and an open mind, Mr. KKM and I decided to start our own little adventure checking out some of these pools to see if we could find somewhat of a hidden nearby gem.
We started with the closest of them, Sulphur Springs. At less than a 5 minute drive from the house, this pool would be the perfect place for me to get some laps in more frequently, without having to grumpily drive much too far than I typically feel like driving. The pool is located right off Nebraska, a little south of Bird Street. There’s a big, tall abandoned building off the Bird Street exit that you can see from I-275. The pool is right next to that building, adjacent to the Hillsborough River.
Source, Foursquare- they do have lane dividers, just not pictured in this particular photograph.
At one point, right at the river’s edge, there was an actual spring called Sulphur Springs that was attached to the river and would act as a natural pool. I remember my grandparents telling stories about taking the kids to the spring back in the early days of Tampa and how beautiful it was. You’re still able to see the spring area, and although it’s been closed for many years now (due to high fecal content), you can appreciate the old beauty it still retains. The entire area is picturesque with marble gazebos, winding paths and picnic tables sprinkled in the park attached to the public pool.
Before paying our $4 entry fee, I asked if I could go take a look around. The lifeguards were quick to agree and showed me the pool deck area, lap lanes and other amenities that the Sulphur Springs pool has to offer. I was very impressed with the cleanliness! The pool was sparkling, the deck was immaculate, and the pool came equipped with slides, sprinkle areas, and even a large concrete umbrella in the middle of the wading area for some shade. I scurried back to the truck to grab Brian and within minutes we had signed our paperwork (liability, etc.), and were slapping on sunscreen ready to get our swim on.
Although the pool is very nice, there are only 5 lanes, which were all taken when we initially jumped in. After 10 minutes or so, one opened up, so we swam under the ropes and shared. The lane goes from 4ft at one end to 7ft at the other, and they’re 25yds in distance. That’s fine by me because although I’ve swum in the 50yd lanes before, it’s quite tiring for this newbie. I forgot to bring my kickboard, but the pool offers some to borrow, and my Aquagear Speedo swim goggles were just as awesome in the chlorine as they were in the salt! Love those things! 😉
The overall pool environment was quiet, even when the kiddie areas opened up at 1. From 10:30-1:00 only the lap areas are open, so anyone can enjoy a nice quiet workout without worrying about any distractions.
Will I be back? You betcha. I purchased my pass ($15!) and will be swimming much more now that I have a pool so close by. I made sure to talk to the lifeguards on duty, and a few of the moms that were there as their kids took swim lessons to make myself known as a potential regular. No matter what kind neighborhood you’re in, if you’re friendly and get to know people, you’ll fit in just fine.
I swam under 1000 yards today, mostly because I was getting tired out (my muscles are still achy from that
damn death sentence medicine ball workout the other day), and I really wanted to sit under that umbrella a bit. 😉 I still have week off next week so I’ll be headed back, no doubt.
What’s your favorite pool in the Tampa Bay area? Any other locations I should try out?