Named after a 19th century Prussian explorer who disappeared!
My experience in the pool
I was here with fellow swimming blogger Therese, who is a regular at Leichhardt Pool so seems to know everyone round the place. Therese has also blogged about this pool regularly, so check out the links below for her take on its people and its history.
There was major upgrading work going on when we turned up in late July, meaning the shallow end of the Olympic Pool was screened off (you could still do the full lap but the builder’s fence came right to the edge of the pool), and the men’s changing rooms were in a temporary hut down past the diving pool.
Actually, the diving boards were the first thing I noticed here, as you don’t often see them these days. What a great sight. You wouldn’t ever see me even on the lowest of the three boards, but I’m so glad that Leichhardt Pool has kept them. The diving pool is a separate beast from the main outdoor pool, and was closed on the day we were there.
The lanes were organised a bit differently too. There was a wide lane with ample room for swimming in both directions and overtaking. And then the remainder of the lanes were a normal width. There was just one lane left with nobody in it, so I opted for that – my only real chance to get a few lengths of backstroke in.
It’s doing backstroke that you get to see what’s really around a pool. There’s Leichhardt Park of course, with its gum trees towering up beyond the deep end, and then there’s Leichhardt Oval, where all sorts of footie games are played out every week.
A beautiful day for a swim. Winter sun that you can look for rather than shelter from, and less of that cold biting wind that blew over the east coast for much of winter 2015.
Getting there, getting in, getting changed
Right next to Leichhardt Oval, this pool also looks down to Iron Cove, off the Parramatta River. I came on the Light Rail from Central Station and then walked the last 10-15 minutes.
Entry at the deep end only while they build the new indoor complex beyond the shallow end. Made for a comical entry for me as my brain had assumed it was the shallow end and I stepped off the last step into 1.8m of water…
Temporary men’s changing rooms, so hard to know how the new ones will be. Warm showers are free, at least!
Other practical points
Entry fee $7.80 in 2015.
Open all year round at 5.30am every day.
History and stories of the pool
Until the 1950s there were tidal baths down in the Cove at the bottom of Leichhardt Park. They all closed when this pool complex opened in 1960.
Leichhardt was a largely Italian community in those days and the story goes that when the pool was first installed there were nursery rhymes in Italian painted onto some of the tiles in the shallow end of the (now demolished) children’s pool (Thanks, Therese, for the correction on this in the comments below!).
But for more stories, you’re best to follow Therese and see her blog as she’s the regular here.
What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winter in the 1970s?
Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them. Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.
Links to other articles on this pool
Swimming blogger Therese on winter swimming here
Therese also came to the 50th birthday party for the pool in 2010
Another Therese post from 2011
And Therese was back in April 2013!
Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?
There is a poolside café serving what looks like decent coffee, but I wanted to try a coffee shop ten minutes’ walk away where they roast their own coffee…
The Local Press – 331 Balmain Road, Lilyfield
Open Daily from 6.30am (Monday – Friday) and an hour or so later at weekends. Closes 4pm during the week and about an hour earlier at weekends
The Local Press reviewed by Fancy a Cuppa website
They roast their own beans here at The Local Press. There’s a house blend, but also single origins and other choices if you want your coffee made by aeropress or filter. A wonderful mandarin and pistachio gluten-free cake went down very nicely with my flat white. Sit by the roaster inside or out on the terrace in front. The loose-leaf teas looked good, too, from Sydney-based T-Nomics.