gwen (gwenix) wrote,

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Swimming at the Oliver Bath House

I really enjoy going swimming, as anyone who knows me can tell you. And I take it seriously, with a routine that includes 40 laps, and employs the strokes freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and even the butterfly most days (some days I decide to just do the freestyle for all 40 laps without stopping). It's a calming experience that allows me time to think in relative peace and quiet.

These days, this swimming happens at the Oliver Bath House in the Southside on 10th st.

I've had a long familiarity with this place; my neighbor and best friend Stephanie and I would often go swimming here in the cold winter months growing up. If I recall correctly, it was her and her mother who taught me the breaststroke at this pool! It isn't the fanciest of swimming, but it certainly is decent, and at $30 a year, it is well worth the price! So I have maintained my membership with the public pools for most of my life, and gone swimming here frequently.

The history of this particular location is fascinating, too. It was opened in 1915 as a bath house for the public, and likely with particular attention to the Southside residents' propensity towards grimy industrial work. As the need for bath houses diminished, so did the need for this facility, and it was turned into a public swimming pool. The Post-Gazette has a nifty 360 picture of the place with this history in the caption.

Going swimming in the pool means heading upstairs to the dressing rooms, lockers, and bathrooms (with showers) to get changed into the swimming gear. The building is kept at a very warm temperature, I estimate 85F, so stripping to the swimsuit is comfortable. Then I shower to rinse off extra grime, and head down to the pool. Jumping into the deep end is easy -- the water is also maintained at a very warm temperature, possibly 80F, and the depth of the deep end is at least 10 ft. And then I start to swim!

These temperatures are often a bit warm for my serious swimming; I'll end up sweating halfway through the workout. But the overly warmness is actually welcome in contrast to the below freezing temperatures outside.

I really like going swimming in the pool that helped teach me to swim, and in a pool so steeped in the history of the neighborhood I love. But moreover, I just love to swim, and this is a great place to do so affordably.
Tags: exercise, pittsburgh, southside, swimming

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