Dick Nichols Pool in Southwest Austin is far from my daily rounds, but it's close to my friend Angela's house. She agreed to meet me there so I could review it and we could hang out.
I like swimming with friends. We'll usually futz around at the end of the lane and talk, then do a few laps, then pull up to the side and talk some more. Angela has a four-year-old son, and it's rare to get her by herself these days, so we had a lot to catch up on. We settled on a bobbing side stroke so we could swim and chat at the same time.
The sun sank as we swam and started putting out those long, golden rays that make everything look glowy and radiant. I admired Angela down the length of the pool. When we got to the end, she directed me to switch sides with her so I too could face the light and look amazing. "You look so good!" "Oh, now you look so good too!" She's a nice friend.
The pool: A large shallow end separated by a wall from the lap area and an ample deep end. Warm but clean water. No trees and little shade, which makes the place look a bit bleak and forbidding.
I was dumb and forgot my flip-flops*, and the sun-blasted deck burned my feet. A good-sized kiddie pool sits just apart from the shallow end.
Lap lanes: Six of them. They were full but turnover was quick around dinnertime. We got a lane to share right away. Later we were joined by a woman who was shooed out of her lane for a swim lesson. Still, there was plenty of room for everyone.
Vibe: Family-friendly; friendly-friendly. There were swimming lessons going on when we were there, and parents congregated in camp chairs on the side, socializing as they watched their kids learn to blow bubbles underwater. The lifeguards were a bit officious but mostly unobtrusive.
Amenities: A couple of benches and shaded picnic tables. A large, reasonably clean bathroom with six shower stalls and an overhead heater, which I'm sure is nice early in the season.
They could use more benches and changing booths, though. At closing time every available surface was covered with towels and toiletries, and I ended up sitting on the sidewalk outside the front gate to put my shoes on and comb my hair. That was okay, though--Angela and I still had things to talk about.
Public art: Murals and tiles with a colorful fish theme dot the facility.
Details: Free. 8011 Beckett Road. Closed Mondays. Open this year until August 22.
*This reminds me of one of my favorite clean jokes:
Q: What do people with two left feet wear to the beach?