Dive into Chicago’s Best Pools for a WorkoutBy Liz Grossman
Sure, there’s that beloved body of water called Lake Michigan in our backyard, but it’s not the only spot where you can get your feet wet around town. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools abound, and many offer free open swims, as well as classes, lessons and lap swims for a small fee. Whether you’re training for a triathlon or just want to swim off last night’s second slice of Giordano’s deep-dish pizza, we’ll show you where to go to take that much-needed plunge.
Out of 580 public parks around the city, 49 are equipped with outdoor pools and 28 make an indoor splash year-round. There’s a lot to choose from, but we’re partial to Eckhart Park in Nobel Square. The park’s 25-yard, six-lane indoor pool is graced with tons of natural light that filters through the ample windows. You are welcome to dive in for free, while aquatic exercise classes, water polo and swimming lessons are available for a small fee. After your workout, hightail it across the street to Awake Café for sandwiches, bakery, bagels, almond berry smoothies or iced coffee drinks (we love the yogurt and espresso chilluccino).
Holstein Park in the northern Chicago neighborhood of Bucktown is home to a 50-yard, six-lane outdoor pool that reaches 11-foot depths. Open swim is free, while lap swims (starting as early as 7 a.m.) and lessons are offered for a fee. Or just spend the day staking out the best sun-tanning real estate on the large deck.
To make a more serious workout splash, you might want to pick up a $25 day pass to gain access to the West Loop Athletic Club’s junior Olympic-sized pool. The 25-meter, five-lane pool offers plenty of room for classes like cross training and high intensity training, as well as open lap swims that go as late as 10:45 p.m. Monday to Thursday nights. Since your day pass gets you access to the rest of the gym facilities, stop in the sauna or steam room for a post-swim schvitz, or just sooth sore muscles in the hot tub.