FAQ General Questions
What are the criteria for a pool to be listed on the Swimmers Guide website?

To be included on the Swimmers Guide website, a pool:

  1. Should be at least 18 meters (59.1 feet) long; (Exceptions);
  2. Should be open for at least eight full months of the year; (Exceptions);
  3. Should be accessible to the general public on a "drop-in", "casual", or "punctual" basis, by membership, through a reciprocal arrangement with affiliated facilities, or by arrangement between the facility and one or more local hotels.) (Exceptions);
  4. We won’t list a pool that meets all of the above criteria, unless we know its:
    • Name;
    • Street address;
    • City or town, state or province (if applicable); county or region (if applicable), and country; and
    • Area or city code (if used in the country) and telephone number for general inquiries about the pool’s hours, programs, prices, etc.

Are there any exceptions to the minimum listing criteria?

There are several types of pool we will include, even if they don’t meet our general requirements.

Length of pool exceptions:

We include hotel swimming pools as short as 15 meters (49.2 feet). Although short pools aren’t ideal for lap swimming, sometimes travelers, particularly business travelers, don’t have time to get to a larger facility. We feel it’s better to get in a swim in a short pool, than not to be able to swim at all.

We occasionally include other pools (not shorter than 15 meters) that are dedicated and devoted to "learn to swim" programs and/or therapeutic aquatics programs. These are included because we feel it is better for non-swimmers or disabled/impaired pool users to be directed to facilities specifically designed for them, than to general use pools.

We include other pools (not shorter than 15 meters) in areas where we have not been able to find facilities within a reasonable distance that meet the 18 meter minimum requirement.

We include short "treadmill" or "swim-in-place" pools. Although they don’t meet the technical length criterion, practically speaking, you can swim further without turning in one of these puppies than you can in the longest of the pools listed that does meet the technical length requirement.

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Length of operating year exceptions:

Occasionally we may find out about a pool that’s open for only six or seven months of the year in an area that doesn’t have very many pools. In those cases, we may include one that’s open for less than eight full months.

In Europe especially, it's common for a community to have a facility with both indoor and outdoor pools, neither of which may be open for a full eight months, but one which is open when the other is closed and swimming is possible for the required eight months. In those situations, we'll include the facility, usually with the indoor pool in the "lead" position, the outdoor facility described in the "Notes" section, and an indication as to when one closes and the other opens.

Very rarely, we’ll find out about a pool that’s so well known and well liked by the locals that we’ll waive the minimum length requirement.

When we make an exception to the rules for short pools or short-season pools, we include an "Alert" in the listing that appears after its name, wherever its name appears. (We don't always remember to do that; if you find a listing where we've forgotten to annotate a short-season, please use the "Edit" tool in the pool's listing to remind us so we can correct the oversight.)

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Admission exceptions:

We include school, college, and employer health facility swimming pools that do not admit the general public, either on a "drop-in" or membership basis, if they have one or more resident aquatic sports team and we have contact information for the team(s). Most teams will allow visiting members of other teams to join workouts for a few days on a guest basis, even if their training pool is not customarily open to anyone else. (In these cases, a listing will not have a telephone number but, instead, will refer users to see the websites of or contact information for the resident club(s), in the team section of the listing.)

Some pools that are highly restrictive in their admission policies are so well known that we include them in spite of the restrictions so swimmers will know not to bother even trying to get into them. (This saves us a lot of time answering email inquiries as to why a well-known facility isn’t on the website.)

Qualifying pools that aren’t included:

Pools that meet the listing criteria but have such limited public access hours (a couple of hours a day on only a few days a week), that they’d simply clutter-up the database.

We used to exclude facilities that otherwise qualified for a listing because the water in the pool was kept too warm for anything resembling "real" swimming. We've eased off that restriction because we want people who like warm water pools to go to warm water pools, leaving the cold water pools to more serious swimmers. If someone who likes warm water pools comes to the site and can find only cold water pools, s/he's likely to "bite the bullet" and tie up a lane in a good, cold pool - annoying the serious swimmers there and having an unhappy swim of his or her own, too.

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Why have you set minimum criteria for listing?

The principal reason for limiting the number of facilities on the site is to keep the database manageable in size and useful throughout the year. It seems that almost every hotel in the world and many health clubs have "swimming pools", but many of them are too small to swim in. We think that anything shorter than 15 meters is too short for lap swimming. (We call them "Einstein Pools" – keeping track of the number of laps to get in a mile or kilometer long swim gets you into higher mathematics.)

Just about every city and town in the temperate zones has at least one outdoor, seasonal, swimming pool – most are open from May to September in the Northern Hemisphere or from November through March in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ve read that there are over 200,000 public pools in the United States, alone. If we included all those pools, the database would become extremely large and cluttered with listings that are of no use to anyone for 50 – 75% of the year. Searching the database for a pool that’s open in the "off-season" would become a tedious and annoying process. It is our experience that finding a good public pool in summer is relatively easy; even non-swimmers in most communities know where the local public pool can be found. But finding a good pool after the summer is over is a whole ‘nother question. The primary purpose of the site and database is to help swimmers find pools where they can swim whatever the season.

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Who decides which pools to include and exclude from the database?

The decision as to whether or not a facility will be included or excluded from the site is solely that of the site’s editor, Bill Haverland. If he decides to put a pool into the database, it goes in; if he decides not to include a pool, it doesn’t go in. It’s that simple. Pool operators and swimmers don’t get a vote. Whether the owner of a pool likes it or not, if Bill thinks a pool should be listed, he lists it; If he thinks it shouldn’t be listed, it doesn’t get listed.

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How do you know about all these pools? Where did you get all this information?

We started developing the database for publication in a book about pools in the United States in 1992. From 1992 through 1995, we mailed questionnaires to thousands of YMCAs, health clubs, hotels, and municipal pools across the country, and published the results in two editions of a book called "Swimmers Guide". The second edition had 3,200 listings, all in the United States. Those pools formed the core of the database.

In 1996, we discovered the Internet and started using it as a tool for research. We began learning the ins-and-outs of the various search engines back then, progressing from the original Internet search engines Magellan, Web-Crawler, and Northern Lights, to AltaVista and AllTheWeb.com. Now, we use Google search almost exclusively, although we recently discovered that Google Maps is also a useful search tool, when you figure out how to use its power.

We first searched in English only, then expanding to Spanish and Portuguese, which we studied in college, and then learned to use other languages we’ve never studied. We’ve done searches in Arabic, Azerbaijani, Basque, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovakian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish, to name a few.

The languages that aren’t written in the Latin alphabet are difficult for us to deal with – but we've still been able to gather a fair number of listings in Russia, Japan, China, Greece, the Arabic-speaking nations, Israel, and Thailand, among others.

We’ve figured out how to use a variety of Web-based telephone books to find addresses and telephone numbers of pools where we had only names, and to use the telephone numbers in search engines to find their dimensions, addresses, and other critical information.

And, while working with the search engines on our own, we’ve also received information for hundreds of listings from other swimmers who used the "Add-A-Pool" tool on the site.

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How much does it cost to have a pool or team listed on the site?

Nothing, nada, rien, zilch, bupkes. Nobody has ever paid anything to be listed on the site. Nobody has ever been asked to pay anything to be listed on the site. And if we can help it, nobody will ever be asked to pay anything to be listed on the site. If we were to accept money for including a facility, it might (OK would) influence our presentation of its information. We don’t want to give up our editorial independence or to have our judgment clouded by financial considerations. The United States Supreme Court doesn't seem to see that money can be corrupting, we're not so naïve. And if we did accept money for one listing, it might influence our decisions about other facilities (not to list a competitor’s facility or to present it in a less favorable light). In our humble opinion, that would be even worse. The editorial independence of the Swimmers Guide site’s editor ensures that the information presented is as fair as the editor can make it.

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I'm interested in finding Olympic-size pools in the areas I'm traveling to, or finding a pool at a hotel, or finding a Masters swim club. How can I most easily find just what I'm looking for?

When you go to the site's Home Page, the first thing you'll see is a map that shows the fifty listings closest to you. (If you don't have your PC or smart phone set to recognize your location, you'll just see a map with the center point someplace in Kansas or Missouri, with no listings pinpointed. To have the map pinpoint your location, you must have your device's location services turned on. Or you can follow the instructions for looking somewhere else.) If you're looking for a pool somewhere else, you can get a similar map for that location by typing location information in the space provided at the top of the form. To show all fifty locations on the map, it may be necessary to zoom-in or zoom-out using the "+" and "-" controls in the lower right corner of the map. But it's not the map that will get you where you want to go - it's the list beneath the map.

Between the map and the list that follows, is a line with two, useful tools: "Show" and "Search", followed by a list. The default for the number of facilities shown in the list is the first ten of the fifty listings. You can use the "Show [ ] entries" tool to see the first ten facilities, which is the default, the first twenty-five, or all fifty of them.

You can use the "Search" box to find the facilities with 50m pools on the list, if any, or the Masters swim teams that train at the facilities on the list, if any, and you can find pools in hotels or that give guests at local hotels a break by clicking on the column headed "Hotel Access" twice. You can also sort the list by clicking on the "Primary Pool" column head, or the "Team" column head. (Clicking on the "Team" column head won't sort out Masters teams, yet, that's for a future enhancement, but it will move the listings with Masters info closer to the top.) If you want to go to the list as first sorted, click on the "Distance" column resort the list, which shows each listing's distance from where you are or where you have chosen to look,

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What's the best way to find a pool in an area I'm going to that I don't know very well?

The site harnesses the power of Google Maps so, if you know where you're going, you don't have to know it well to find a pool there. Here are just a few of the many pieces of location information you can enter in the "Find a pool near me" search box:

A city and state (or country) name

A Postal Code or ZIP Code and state or country name

Three-character airport code

A landmark name (e.g., "Empire State Building, New York", "French Embassy, Washington, DC")

The name of a hotel

A street address (house number, street name, city, state or country)

A latitude and longitude

The more exact the location you enter, the more useful the selection of pools Swimmers Guide will give you.

And it will do it in any language you enter it in.

When you start typing, Google will start presenting you with options in a drop-down format that may match the location you're checking out. When you see an exact match, click on it and the page will update with a map centered on that location. If you don't get a match, check your spelling.

Keep in mind that there may be several places with identical names, - there are cities named "Oxfords in England, Australia, Mississippi, and Ohio. And there are several countries that use five-digit postal codes - the U.S., Germany, Spain, France, and some others - so, if you're using postal codes, you have to add the state or country name to get a right answer.

Most recently updated August, 2018.

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