Cooling off in an Austin summer can be challenging, but, thankfully, a community pool is never far away. Low admission fees and well maintained properties make municipal pools an enticing summer getaway for Austinites in every neighborhood, and a mix of natural, spring-fed pools and traditional chlorinated pools means there’s a place to swim for every person.
Deep Eddy Park
Deep Eddy Pool has a deep seat in the timeline of Austin’s history, and today offers visitors a cooling swimming pool for recreation and laps, a toddler play area, an ADA accessible ramp to the nearby hike and bike trail, and a nearby dock on Town Lake for watching kayakers. The Deep Eddy Pool is manmade and holds the title of the oldest swimming pool in the state of Texas. The pool was originally a swimming hole in the Colorado River, before becoming a private resort in the 1920s. An adjoining bathhouse was built during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and both the pool and structure are marked by a National Historic Registry placard. Today the community swimming pool is owned and operated by the City of Austin and is located just east of West Lake homes and neighborhoods.
In its early days, the pool was formed when cold springs rose from the river banks, and a large boulder formed an eddy ideal for swimming. The concrete pool surrounding the eddy was built in 1915 by A.J. Eilers, Sr., who called the pool the Deep Eddy Bathing Beach. The surrounding area featured cabins, camping, and concessions for resort guests. After a major flood, the pool opened as a public park in 1936. Visitors to the pool today are attracted by the fresh, unchlorinated water, which holds an average temperature of 70 degrees year round. In the summer months, the pool sponsors Splash Party Movie Nights and shows family friendly films on an inflatable movie screen for swimmers and waders.
The first pool most people visit when they move to Austin is Barton Springs pool, located within Zilker Park’s 358 acres, in close proximity of Barton Creek luxury homes. The pool itself comprises three acres and is fed from underground springs that help maintain its average temperature of 68 degrees year round. Almost every visitor to Austin is told to experience the chilly waters of the natural spring-fed pool, and stories of famous bathers are numerous, including the story of Robert Redford learning to swim in the pool when he was five years old. The pool is part of the Edwards Aquifer, and on the far bank is the Main Spring, which fills the pool. There are four main spring orifices around the pool, and these are the only known habitat for the Barton Springs salamander, a federally listed endangered species. The money raised from admissions fees goes towards protection efforts for the Barton Springs salamander. The pool is open to the public from 5:00am to 10:00pm, Friday through Wednesday. Between March and October, when visitors must pay an admission fee, the pool allows bathers to swim for free after 9:00pm.
The City of Austin operates seven municipal pools that are open to all Austinites, including Barton Springs pool. The City also oversees the operation of 27 neighborhood pools, six wading pools, and 10 splash pads for children. The city utilizes these pools to host aquatic events, swim team competitions, instructional swim programs like water fitness classes, lifeguard and water safety training, and youth and adult swim lessons. While neighborhood pools require residency and an access key, municipal pools are open to anyone. These pools include the Beverly S. Sheffield pool and Walnut Creek pool in North Austin, the Bartholomew pool and Mabel Davis pool in East Austin, the Barton Springs pool and Garrison pool in South Austin, and the Deep Eddy pool in West Austin. Pool times vary by season but are typically open from 8am to 9pm for recreational swimming during the summer months, and a $3 admission fee is charged for entrance.
See Austin Swimming Holes.
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