As the temperature rises and summer holidays get into full swing, you're definitely going to need a spot to cool down. Luckily, Melbourne has a ton of great swimming pools to cannonball into. There's still some restrictions around capacity in place, so make sure you call ahead or book a spot.
Here’s our rundown of Melbourne's best swimming pools.
Made famous by Helen Garner in her book ‘Monkey Grip’, the Aqua Profonda sign still hovers above the deep end at Fitzroy Pool. This 50-metre outdoor beauty is always packed during summer with kids splashing in the play zone, would-be Olympians ploughing down the fast lane, and blasé hipsters hopping across the burning concrete to overlook the chlorinated happenings from the grandstands. There’s also a gym, spinning studio, group fitness classes, crèche, spa, sauna and steam room as well as an area to buy Speedos, goggles and ice cream.
Harold Holt Swim Centre
You know that Prime Minister we had, who walked into the ocean and never came back? Well, because Aussies have a warped sense of humour, we named a swimming pool after him. The Harold Holt Swim Centre was designed in 1966 to replace the existing Malvern baths built in 1926. It won heritage status in 2006 as an example of ‘brutalist architecture’, and was deemed ‘a celebration of concrete.’ You’ll find six different-sized pools, as well as swim classes and fitness studios. Unfortunately, the concrete cancer-riddled 10-metre diving board is out of action for an indefinite amount of time.
Offering a watery sanctuary for weary IKEA shoppers, this oft-overlooked 50-metre indoor pool is a great place for serious swimmers to smash out a few laps. With a separate toddler pool and free kickboards aplenty, it’s also got two gyms, group fitness studios, a spa, a sauna and a steam room. Plus, it’s smack bang opposite the Richmond fresh food markets, which spill onto the street and right up to the door every Saturday. Emerge from your swim to be greeted with food samples and the sizzle of a barbeque? Don’t mind if we do.
St Kilda Sea Baths
If you’re not a fan of chlorine in your eyes, hair and nostrils, swim in natural seawater at the St Kilda Sea Baths. Established in the 19th century when swimming from the open beach was forbidden during daylight hours, the baths have a far-from-clean history – they housed the notorious nightclub Bojangles, a favourite of a young Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, and were ravaged by fire on more than one occasion. Still, the therapeutic benefits of natural seawater are arguably powerful enough to wash away any criminal wrongdoing. The 25-metre heated seawater pool offers beautiful views of the bay, the hydrotherapy spa pool helps relieve muscle aches and pains, and there’s even a gorgeous aromatherapy steam room.
Established way back in 1881, the Brighton Baths are home to the legendary Icebergers, a group of possibly mad locals who brave the cold surf 365 days a year. You don’t have to do that, though. As well as outdoor bathing, this Brighton institution boasts indoor swimming and gym facilities, steam rooms, and group fitness classes overlooking Port Phillip Bay. The best part of this place? The Baths restaurant, café and bar is attached, so you don’t need to go far when it’s time for a drink.
Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre
This big, sleek facility has two 10-lane 50 metre pools; one of which was purpose-built for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships. You’ll also find 14 indoor diving boards, a 50-metre water slide, a hydrotherapy pool, a ‘wave’ pool and a spa, sauna and steam room. Whew. The centre is situated in the lush green surrounds of Albert Park and provides plenty of inspiration to pack a picnic for after your swim.
The Brunswick Baths underwent a major redevelopment in 2011 to update its 50-metre outdoor pool, 22-metre indoor pool, and a whole range of accessibility issues. It still retains its heritage façade but now boasts one of the most environmentally-friendly profiles around. As well as a gym, cardio room, cycle room, spa, sauna and steam room, there’s a Waterplay pool with a waterslide and water cannons for little kids (and adults who are sick of adult-ing).
Northcote Aquatic And Recreation Centre
The grassy bank by the 50-metre outdoor pool at Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre is perfect for reclining and indulging in some of the best people-watching this side of High Street. A 25-metre indoor pool provides a heatproof escape for when the sun gets a little bit fierce, and a snazzy spa, sauna, gym, crèche and café ensures that you can while away a whole day here.
Melbourne City Baths
An inner-city oasis with an old-world feel, the Melbourne City Baths are worth a visit just for the stunning architecture. Built in 1860, the design reflects the social conventions of the day, with separate street entrances for men and women and (ahem) second-class baths for the poor in the basement and first-class baths for the rich on the main floor. Fast forward to 2015 and the Baths are happily class and gender bias-free. There is a 30-metre lap pool and a state-of-the-art gym as well as multiple perks for members like a free monthly breakfast buffet.
Coburg Olympic Swimming Pool
For nostalgic fun in the sun, it’s hard to look past Coburg Olympic Swimming Pool with its 50-metre outdoor pool and 1-metre diving board. Barbecues and well-shaded grassed areas are perfect for cooking snags or catching shade, and there’s an old-school kiosk deep-frying those spherical discs of happiness known as potato cakes. Just one word of warning: It opens on 1 December every year, so don’t turn up before then with goggles and flippers in your hand, or you’ll be cruelly disappointed.
In need of some new bathers for summer? Check out these LA swimwear labels that are killing it at the moment.
Image credit: Chris Lawton