Shipe Pool was where I discovered my love of lap swimming. I went there every single day for a whole summer about 10 years ago. The legislature had been called into overtime, so I was working the evening shift all summer.
I would wake at 11 each day, ride my bike to Shipe, stay for an hour, ride to Fresh Plus for an Amy's frozen dinner, bike home, shower, and go to work until midnight or 2 am. Then I would come home, drink beer until I fell asleep, and start all over again the next day.
I started off being able to do maybe two laps at a time, then added laps every day until I could swim the whole hour without stopping. After two months of that I was in the best shape of my life, and despite--or maybe because of--the regimented days and relative isolation, it was one of the best summers I've ever had.
The pool: It's a big rectangle full of water, with a deep end and a shallow end separated by a rope. I've been there a few times this summer, and the water is always murky for some reason. Despite being ringed by sycamore trees, it's bathwater warm right now, but most pools are these days.
It's a fine rectangle, but it's in poor repair and scheduled for a redesign. While I have a sentimental attachment to the pool as it is, I think it's due for one.
There's a wading pool outside the gate, but I've never paid it much attention. It's next to the playground, and I'm sure it's fine. I think part of the redesign is meant to integrate the two pools.
Lap lanes: One, along the length of the pool. Since everyone has to share, people are forgiving of slowpokes and beginners. If you want to do a super-duper timed power workout, I'd go elsewhere, but if you're looking for a friendly, casual place to move your limbs around, it's great. They have lap hours in the mornings, too, from 8-11.
Vibe: Hyde Park all the way. Trendy teens, helicopter parents, sunbathers, and poolside yoga practitioners.
Facilities: Some poolside benches, a low wall to sit on, and an outdoor shower head. The single-stall bathrooms are in a really cool log cabin but are frequently occupied for long stretches by the people who hang out in the park, and also the occasional mud dauber. It's not the nicest or most convenient place to change into your suit.
Public art: Shipe Pool also boasts a huge, impressive community-built mosaic all along the wall of the structure that houses the pool equipment. There's a nice KRLU-produced video about it here.
I wish I had been involved in mosaics when they were piecing it together because it looks like it was a blast to work on.
Details: Free. 4400 Avenue G. Closed Tuesdays. Open this year until August 22.