Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Swim at Barthlomew Pool

July Checklist Item: Try Out the Water Slides and Cross the Lily Pads at Bartholomew Pool 

We finally made it!

Bartholomew Pool reopened in the summer of 2014 after being closed for five years due to it being structurally unsound. The wait was well worth it as the new pool offers a plethora of swim options for all ages.

This is what the wading area looked like during the five-minute break. For a little while, this area was deserted, but later on it was as busy as the rest of the pool.
This is what the wading area looked like during the 5-minute break. For a little while, this area was deserted, but later on it was as busy as the rest of the pool.

A typical summer day at Bartholomew: The parking lot is buzzing with activity, but still easy to find a spot. Although Bartholomew is a municipal pool, paying $5 for an adult and two kids seems like a steal compared to many of the other options out there. The pool was very crowded, but my companions were unfazed. Despite the crowds, there were plenty of spots to put down your things on the grass and on raised concrete dividers. There is also a surprising amount of shade to sit in, although admittedly it was mid-afternoon. There are about a dozen picnic tables available. All were taken by the time we arrived so I imagine you have to arrive early in the day to snag a table. You can also bring in outside food and drinks, which was a pleasant surprise.

Slide report: kid and parent-approved!
Slide report: kid and parent-approved! Our first stop were the water slides. As is the case with most slides in the area, the minimum height is 48 inches. There is a measuring tool at the bottom and top of the stairs to see whether kids are tall enough to ride. I took an informal poll with the kids in line with us and they were all big fans of the slides, just as my son and his friend soon were. The line moved quickly, and the slides were perfect for beginners. In the hour or so that we visited, the boys were able to try out both slides a few times each.

This lily pad bridge was similar to what's at Volente but much longer.
This lily pad bridge is similar to what's at Volente but much longer.

Then we headed over to the lily pad "bridge." I decided to skip it myself but both boys shouted with joy after making it across successfully. We jumped into the adjoining kid pool, which was the perfect depth for the kids and was partially shaded. For something different, after a little while we went to the other pool designed for kids. There was a deeper section, a lap lane which was unused during our visit and a diving board. My son made sure to get in a canonball off the diving board. The second pool, which was a similar depth, had a bench-like step down, which made it easier to get in and out.

After some more slides, I had to break the bad news to the kids: it was time to head home. We could have easily spent another hour there, but it was a good introduction. As with most pools in the city, they are much less crowded during weekdays. The pool doesn't open until 11 a.m. for recreational swimming, and the slides don't open 'til noon, so my guess would be going right at lunchtime might be your best bet.
Top to bottom, left to right: the diving area, one of the kid-friendly pools during five-minute break, the crowds, the other kid pool.
Top to bottom, left to right: the diving area, one of the kid-friendly pools during 5-minute break, the crowds, the other kid pool.

Bartholomew Park, adjacent to the pool but quite a walk in the hot summer across the parking lot, also has a lot to offer. There is a splash pad with a shade cover, a few playscapes, swings and an area my kid loved as a toddler with a pretend train, bus and schoolhouse.

Address: 1800 E. 51st Street 
Summer Hours:

June 8 - August 22, 2015

Day Time Type of Activity
Weekdays - Closed on Tuesdays 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Lap Swim
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Swim Lessons
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Swim Team
11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Recreational Swim
12 p.m. - 8 p.m. Slides Available
6 p.m. - 7:50 p.m. Swim Lessons
Weekends 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Recreation Swim
12 p.m. - 8 p.m. Slides Available

About the author: Nicole Basham is a native Austinite and soccer-playing mom who uses her 8-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life," or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers."

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