I recently decided to revive my relationship with water and took swimming lessons. Below are some of my favourite spots others that I’m excited to visit for a dip before winter hits.
Part of it was that I hated feeling immobilised when I went for a went boat-ride a few weeks ago. Another significant reason behind my renewed motivation was a decision to task myself with challenging the stereotype that black people can’t swim, I had grand plans of taking over water. So although it’s a bit too late now to get a spot at the Olympics, I’ve decided to instead immerse myself in some of the finest swimming spots in Cape Town. Here are great swimming spots I’ve been to and others that I plan on visiting before winter officially hits.
A few years ago I had a terrible swimming instructor who used to yell from outside the pool, while filing her nails, “relax your body and just float! Okay no! Stop! Get back to the wall and just paddle your feet instead! Keep doing that and stay there!”. She would do this to a group of 8 and we’d all get confused about who she was referring to and nervously attempted to execute her instructions. It was a mess. She then came up with an idea that some people were more advanced than others and had to ‘move on to other stages’. Meanwhile, some of us were left to merely paddle our feet by the wall. She kept me paddling by the wall for 4 lessons before I would end quit taking lessons.
Eight years later, I’ve just arrived in Claremont to meet up with Brent Abrahams from Simply Swimming after I had an epiphany that I wasn’t a quitter. I was immediately delighted that there weren’t 7 other people joining in for the lesson. Judging from his attire I was also happy that he was also going to get inside the pool to demonstrate and not yell instructions from outside the pool.
‘Mr Welcome, welcome! You are right on time!’ he says with great enthusiasm.
Instead of being kept by the wall to merely paddle my feet (something both Brent and I still agree I need to practice more), he was patient with me, affirmed my progress, encouraged me to relax and be confident in my abilities to move around water.
‘You are not scared of water Mr Welcome! You are very relaxed which is great! Make sure to paddle your feet more and take it slow with your arm strokes. You have very long arms Mr Welcome. That’s an advantage. Make the most of it by being relaxed and let your feet do most of the work’.
I jump inside the pool and paddle my feet furiously, come out on the other end and look at him, he beams, ‘that’s great Mr Welcome! You are a fast learner ey, Mr Welcome?!’.
6 lessons later, I was ready to start my journey towards scooping up gold medals at the Olympics. Instead, I’ll settle with practising my newly acquired skill in some of the finest pools around Cape Town before winter officially hits.
If like me, you need to go back to the basics to learn from scratch or improve your current skill, sign up with Simply Swimming with R100 for registration and R107 for a single half hour lesson. Depending on your current ability and your ease with water, you’ll need about six lessons. For novice swimmers like me, and the pros who aren’t able to show off at the Olympics, here are top 10 of the best swimming spots in Cape Town:
1. Simon’s Town, Long beach
Long beach is an ideal spot for swimming because the surrounding ports mean that the waves are minimal making the water calm. Here you’ll find all sorts of swimmers, both beginners and show-offs because this beach really is ideal for swimmers. It was here where I saw once saw a lady teaching her teenage son how to float here. The water here unbelievably calm. Make it your goal to swim here as often as you possibly can before winter comes and you can take the train which will drop you off right by the beach.
2. Pepper Hotel and Spa rooftop pool
The outdoor infinity pool on the root top at the Pepper Hotel and Spa is moderately sized. You can enjoy a dip in the pool while enjoying panoramic views of the city and mountains while soaking in the sun. Located on the 8th floor of the hotel the pool is the perfect to indulge in some light lunches served on the after a quick or serious dip.
Contact: 0218128888, pepperclub.co.za/swimming-pool
Times: 24 hours a day.
3. The Vue sky-bar lounge
This sleek and sophisticated bar in the heart of Cape Town offers a pool with some serious views. I’d recommend taking a floaty with you so you can float on this pool and take in the superb view of Cape Town while sipping on a cocktail. Guaranteed to make you feel like a million bucks!
Contact: 021 418 3065, the-vue.com
Times: Monday to Sunday from 7am to 10pm
4. Trafalgar Swimming Pool
This is an Olympic sized pool where you can show off your swimming ability and fitness by covering laps. If you’re scared of being judged go during the day when it’s not full. If you want to show off, consider going on weekends where people get to enjoy a picnic on the grass and watch the likes of you – or should I say, us. This pool is used by an aquatic club on Thursdays between 6pm to 8pm and Saturdays from 8am to 10am, so access will be limited during these times. This pool is conveniently situated in the heart of Woodstock.
Contact: 0214615060, westerncape.gov.za/facility/trafalgar-park-swimming-pool-woodstock
Times: Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Cost: Adults R3.00 and R1.00 for children.
5. Sea Point Pavilion
Apparently, the preferred style swimming in Sea Point is the relaxed dog paddle. This pool is such a social space because, well… people are putting this fantastic pool to use. Come out with friends for a day of enjoying the sun and oceanic views without getting caught up in any sand. Sea Point is on constant holiday mode, this pool is ideal for a warm day out for a wonderful experience of Cape Town. There are two other smaller pools available, as well as a shallow pool for children to play in.
Contact: 0214343341, westerncape.gov.za/facility/sea-point-pavillion-swimming-pool
Times: Open from 7am to 7pm during summer and 9am to 5pm during winter.
Cost: R21.00 entrance for adults and R10.50 for children.
6. Newlands swimming pool
The Newlands Swimming pool is an Olympic-sized public pool used by athletes, local swimmers and visitors alike. This pool offers fantastic views of the mountain and a grass area for a pleasant and calming scene where you can bring a friend to watch you practice.
Contact: 0216744197, westerncape.gov.za/facility/newlands-swimming-pool
Times: Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Cost: R15.00 for adults and R7.00 for children.
7. Batstone Pool
This chic rooftop pool is small which makes it perfect for a quick dip on a hot day before enjoying drinks at this already trendy spot. This deck rooftop and pool bar makes great use of their rooftop for people who want to expand their varied experience of drinks with a dip in the pool.
Contact: 0766430287, email@example.com
Times: Open from 11 am until sunset every Wednesday to Sunday.
Cost: R150 minimum spend if you want to use their pool.
8. Kalk Bay Tidal Pool
A tidal pool is a pool right by the coast filled by sea-water everytime the tide turns high. With several inviting tidal pools along the Muizenberg and Simons Town coast that you can spot by eye on the train ride, the Kalk Bay one is worth a visit. Located on the Indian Ocean, the water is warmer and makes for a perfect swim without the disturbance of the waves.
9. Boulders Beach, Simons Town
Located on the Indian Ocean, Boulders Beach is popularly known to be home to the African penguin and its warm waters also make ideal for swimming. With the surrounding mountains, the wind and waves are also minimal making the water calm and easy to approach for the novice or nervous swimmers. Go for a dip on this popular beach and get the opportunity to see some penguins while you’re at it.
Contact: 0217862329, sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php
Cost: Conservation fee of R65.
10. Long baths
Located on Long street, this pool is perfect for the swimmers who are serious about realising their Olympic goals. The water temperature in this Olympic sized pool is controlled to suit both warm and cold days. This is where you go if you want to swim during winter so that you can show off some serious skills and fitness in summer.
Cost: R21 per session and R240 per month for adults, R10.50 per session and R105.50 per month, free for pensioners.
Contact: 0214220100, westerncape.gov.za/facility/long-street-baths