Pool: Ocasek Natatorium
The The Good News: Indoor fifty meters, pace clocks, open all day long on weekdays.
The Bad News: Location (see details)
Details: Yum yum yum. If you've ever been to Akron, you know how important it is to have a diversion. You need to forget that you are here and the Ocasek Natatorium at A.U. is as good as an opium den. A minor complaint is that all fifty thousand pace clocks are on a different schedule. 25's and 75's are out of the question, but if that's the price I have to pay so that I don't climb up a on tower and pick off dazed Akronites with an Uzi, to whom do I make out the cheque?
Pool: Brooklyn YMCA
The The Good News: Free with a Y card, staff is super nice, kickboards and a paceclock placed high up so it can be seen from both ends of the pool.
The Bad News: Ends of the pool are 20 yards apart. Four lanes, one pathetic lane rope (see details), no flags, no gutters, no other lap swimmers.
Details: The lone lane rope is loose and old. A string of chewed up puca shells would have been as effective. The wide-eyed lifeguard held a press conference when I did a flip turn without losing my pull buoy and I have no idea how many yards I did. I aim for 3,500 but twenty yard pools mess with my head. Only if you are desperate to get in the water, and I mean desperate.
- Pool: Sterling Recreation Center
The The Good News: Six lanes, 25 yards, free (see details).
The Bad News: No pace clock, only one lane rope, no flags
Details: I suspect that this pool was a jewel in her heyday. Swimming at the Sterling is like going to an old movie house that hasn't been restored yet. It's crusty and rundown, but it still has heart.
When I called to inquire how much a swim cost, the front desk gal said, "It's free if you live in Cleveland."
"Oh! What if you don't live in Cleveland," I asked.
"Well, just pretend like you do." Click.
Yeah. You gotta love a pool staff that helps you beat the system.
- Pool: Natatorium @ CSU
The The Good News: Indoors, 50 meter facility. The deep end is bottomless and Men's NCAA's were held here in '84, so the record board is really cool.
The Bad News: If you don't attend Cleveland State University. you have to sneak in.
Details: A swimmer called Eddie, who I met at the Sterling Rec Center (see above), told me about this pool. Most university pools require a student ID or at least payment. If you have neither, find a blank look and insert it into your eyes. Then strip to your suit and wander onto the deck with your equipment. Someone will ask you to sign in. Announce that you are looking for a masters team. It is helpful if you can sound stupid. I don't know about you, but being blonde means that I can take it to another level. Since you are ready to swim and not a threat to anyone's safety, the lifeguard will write you off as an inbecile and warn you that next time you need an ID.
Note- this only works once.
Once you're in, you may find yourself getting stroke instruction by an old guy named Anton. Don't be afraid!Anton Cerer was a member of Yugoslavia's '36 Olympic team and competed in Berlin. He's also a Masters world record holder in five events and an assistant swim coach at CSU. He gave me a great breastroke tip and then told me to turn it up a notch, interval-wise. Of course, I'll pretend I didn't hear that last comment.
Pool: Blue Ash YMCA
The The Good News: Two paceclocks, kickboards, 25 yards, six lanes.
The Bad News: No gutters, the water in the main pool is warm.
Details: The Blue Ash (and isn't that name easy to mispronounce...)has another facility, the Ferris Pool, which is "up the hill," according to the lady at the front desk, and she assured me that the Ferris Pool's water is sharp and chilly. At the overheated main pool on a Thursday night, lap swim was from 8 to 10pm. The first hour, I shared the pool with age groupers (I was shunted over to the gutterless wall lane), and I am happy to say that I beat several seven year olds on a 25 sprint. The kids got out at 9pm and a few more lappers slipped in, but I still had my own lane.
Pasty White Skin Review 7. Tanner than you'd think; I think some of these Blue Asses spent New Year's in Florida.
- Pool: Keating Natatorium @ St Xavier High School
The The Good News: The Cincinnati Marlins Masters work out in this fifty meter indoor facility. Kickboards, paceclocks, and a noon workout.
The Bad News: I am in no shape for the Sunday workouts.
Details: My heart is very grateful to the Marlins team for letting me mooch a few workouts. My body is not quite so full of gratitude but it is too exhausted to write its own review. As Coach Paul's Friday afternoon workout almost killed me, I took my comfort in a few pints of Guinness that night and enjoyed a complete recovery, only to show up to Coach Randy's Sunday workout to get my ass kicked all over again. During the main set, I tried to get in touch with my inner freestyler, only to find that she'd skipped town three years ago during a 1650. Someone pour me a tall one.
Pasty White Skin Review 6. At this point, I've been at indoor pools for three months straight. Now I am part of the problem. I need a gig in Hawaii.
- Cuyahoga Falls
The Good News: The Natatorium at Akron University is only a few miles away.
The Bad News: Four lanes, no gutters, no flags, no equipment and more.
Details: The Bally's organization consistently installs the worst pools in lap swim history. Back at corporate headquarters, someone decided gutters were an extra expense that no one would miss. It's a given that every Bally's pool sucks, so the question is always how much. This one sucks alot. The walls are painted white, absent any black crosses that indicate it's time to duck one's head for the flip turn. On this Saturday afternoon, I'd racked up a week's worth of decent workouts at AU, so I was going to relax anyway. When I saw the jacuzzi, my heart ached a little and I almost canned the workout just to sit in hot splendor. No, no, I told myself, it's important to workout. When I stuck my toe in the pool's overheated water, well, clearly I was about to get the best of both worlds. I did about 800 yards and got out to make notes on how viciously I hate this pool.
Also, if it's possible to get a venereal disease on one's feet, it'll happen from the Bally's skanky bathroom floors. Put a condom on each foot and hold your breath.
Pool: Dayton YMCA
The The Good News: 25 yards, kickboards, one paceclock, flags and it's open nearly all day long for lap swim.
The Bad News: Four lanes, hot water, no gutters.
Details: Not much to say, really. You're in Dayton, for God's sake, so clearly something isn't right with your life. When leaving the parking lot, the parking arm will come down on your car, unless you sneak out behind another car. You'll need to purchase a token at the front desk for $1.50, or do like I do and wait for some young Christian to pull out and leach on his bumper. It's like doing a pull set in the car.
Pasty White Skin Review: 8 1/2. Oh, these people are ghoulish. In fact, all of Ohio seems to be trapped under a biosphere that deflects the sun's rays. It's the State in the Plastic Bubble, starring a million or so pale, doughy John Travoltas.
Pool: Ridgeway YMCA
The The Good News: Six lanes, 25 yards, red Dolphin kickboards.
The Bad News: Broken paceclock, water temperature (see details) and landlocked lane ropes make it a DIY workout.
Details: What a bummer. This pool has so much potential. It's deep end is truly deep, the gutters are decent and its lane ropes were manufactured in the 20th century. But none of this matters when the water is 88 degrees. I mentioned something to the lifeguard who said, "Yeah, it's usually 86!"
Also, the lane ropes are used only for the swim team. If you offer to put one in yourself, you can cordon off a wall lane but make sure to remove it when you leave.
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