Even though it is currently sleet-snowing, I really can't complain about the cold this winter, but even mild winters mean that swimming is relegated to humid, chlorine-y pools. These grey, slushy days, (and even the cold, bright ones), have me dreaming of swimming outside. Most specifically at Sunnyside pool, on the very edge of Lake Ontario in Toronto's west end, and it is, in my humble opinion, the greatest pool in Toronto.
First off, it's big. Not quite Kits Pool big, but way bigger than your standard 25m variety. And such a big pool means tons of people and tons of people means tons of people watching, which on the pool deck is nothing short of fascinating! So many tattoos! So many different kinds of bathing suits! So many different ways of getting into the water! So many different ways of being in the water: you've got the swimmers, and the floaters, and the canon ballers, and the sun tanners, and the kid wranglers. It is the most wonderful cross-section of people in Toronto.
It's open every day from the end of June until Labour Day from 10-3:45, then then 5-8. It's open till 11 on extreme heat alert days. Those late night dips? One of the very best things to do in Toronto in the summer.
Though the width isn't a full 25m, there is always length (or width!) swim in the very centre of the pool and because the shallow end is so big, there is so much space for kids of all ages to play. The super shallow end is filled with babies in PFDs and little kids just learning to float, where closer to the deep end, it's the older, splashy kids playing frozen tag.The deep end hosts older ladies in bathing caps doing breaststroke, tangled couples, and epic diving competitions.
On a really hot day, deck space is at a premium (especially deck space without fence shadows to ensure prime tanning!) What I would give for some Sunnyside deck lying right about now.
The countdown to June begins in earnest...
PS: the pool also has an amazing history!
Flow by Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh
It's the second annual Winter Stations Design Competition and 7 lifeguard towers in The Beaches have been transformed into winter warming stations along Balmy, Kew and Ashrbidges Bay beaches. They are incredible! The theme this year is Freeze/Thaw (fitting as the city just saw a 40 degree temperature span from one weekend to the next).
Check out photos of all of the installations here.
Lifeguard towers have a pret-ty special significance in my world as my fella proposed on one (though in the west end, closer to Sunnyside!)
As big fans of picnics, regardless of the season, we packed a thermos (and chips, of course) and a picnic blanket and headed east. My almost one-year-old practiced walking in the sand (a necessary skill in this family!) and my fella showed Jack how to skip stones. The sky rewarded us for trekking across town with a stunning sunset.
It was really the next best thing to swimming. (And they're up till March 20! Get thee east!)
I fell in love in the fast lane. And it was a real fast lane -- at U of T, where the fast lane is all triathletes and Masters swimmers and is a full 50m. I had been a medium lane swimmer, but switched lanes just so I could swim with the tall swimmer with a mean whip kick.
I have never swam so hard, or been so out of breath in all my swimming days the day I moved over to the fast lane. but I kept up.
And then, somehow, we both grabbed flutter boards at the same time and kicked side by side for at least a half hour. It was what swimming pool fairy tales are made of.
I can't remember how he asked me out, but he did after that swim, and I must say, there is something extremely reassuring to know that you'll always look better on a first date than you do in a bathing cap and goggles.
We dated, (and swam together) for two years and though I haven't seen him in years, I still know the cadence of his front crawl, the angle of his hand as it hit the water.