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.(Exceptions)

What are the 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 convenient, short pool, than not to be able to swim at all.

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.

In the past we have included other pools (not shorter than 15 meters) that are dedicated and devoted to "learn to swim" programs and/or therapeutic aquatics programs. These were initially included because we felt it was better for non-swimmers or disabled/impaired pool users to be directed to facilities specifically designed for them, than to general use pools. Unfortunately, we have come to the conclusion that the database has grown so much that the time spent keeping these listings up to date is not worth the effort; we are not adding new listings in this category and we are eliminating ones added earlier, one by one, as we progress though our regular reviews.

Similarly, in the past we have included some "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 length requirement. Unfortunately, we've found that these pools (and often the facilities that house them) are impermanent, as compared to other, larger pools. The clubs that house them shut down with a high degree of frequency and maintenance is, apparently, also an issue. These are no longer being added and the ones that were listed are now being deleted from the site.

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. This happens most often in the Southern Hemisphere - particularly in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In those cases, we try to tell you when the swimming season begins and ends within the "Facility Notes" section of the listing.

In Europe especially, it's common for a community to have a facility with both indoor and outdoor pools, neither of which is 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.

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.)

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 teams 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.) Note, however that in the case of schools and colleges, the "resident" teams mentioned above exclude the institution's own scholastic teams. Those do not, as a general rule, welcome strangers. We're not here to promote the teams, we're here to let swimmers know where they may be able to get in a workout.

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.)

Telephone contact exceptions:

Some of the facilities listed are included on the site because they host local swim teams but are in school or college pools whose admission policies would otherwise exclude them from being listed. Where we believe that there's no chance of someone other than someone swimming with the local team getting into the pool, we do not include the facility's telephone information. Instead, we refer the user to the team information further down in the listing. We do this as a courtesy to the institutions that hosts the teams; they don't need the bother of receiving calls from people they're not going to be able to help, anyway.

Are there pools that qualify for listing but are not included on the site?

We may exclude 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.

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. Most hotels 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.)

And 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 another question. The primary purpose of the site and database is to help swimmers find pools where they can swim whatever the season.

Finally, we have a lot of pools to keep track of here. We spend our days going through the listings in an orderly fashion in an attempt the review each and every one of them periodically. The first time we did it, a full review of every listing took about four years. We're now in our sixth year of the second round of reviews, with about another year or two to go. We're working as fast as we can, but adding a few hundred thousand listings to the site would make it impossible to ever finish a single review of every listing.

Who decides which pools will be included and which pools will be excluded?

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.

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 and Google Maps almost exclusively.

We first searched in English only, then expanded to Spanish and Portuguese, which we studied in college; then we then learned to use other languages we’d 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. (Special thanks to the Google Translate website!)

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 China, Greece, Israel, Japan, Russia, 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.

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

There is no charge for a facility, a club, or a team to be listed on the Swimmers Guide website.


This page was last updated on April 14, 2020.