As mentioned in my last post, due to a combination of limited holiday hours and pool shutdowns the pools that I typically go to were out of commission this week. As such, I looked for some alternatives and ultimately decided to give the Olympium pool a try this morning. It's one of only three Olympic sized (50m) pools in the entire region, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try out the longer lengths (vs 25m that I usually swim).
Unfortunately, when I got changed and headed in I saw that they had a bulkhead in the middle of the pool that effectively split it into two 25m pools. That was a bit of a disappointment, however the pool itself was much better designed for this type of swimming so it was still quite an improvement over what I am used to. Primarily, the water temperature was much more comfortable than the local facilities (~24C vs. 28C). While it doesn't seem like a whole lot, it makes a huge difference when you've been swimming hard for a significant period of time.
Secondly, the pool had a consistent 2m depth on my side of the bulkhead (judging by the height of the diving boards, the other end was likely substantially deeper) which makes it easier to swim. Further, it also has the side effect of making it less tempting to rest at the ends for longer than necessary as you don't have the option to stand ;)
The other nice thing about the facility is that, despite the fact that it was extremely busy (8 active lanes, 4-5 people/lane) everyone appeared to know the rules well so it wasn't a problem at all. The lifeguards were also very proactive and moved people around as necessary to keep traffic moving at appropriate paces in each of the lanes. Further, the lanes were much wider than they are at the local pools so when passing was required it was reasonably easy to do.
Once I got out and changed I asked at the front desk to see if they have any sessions where the entire pool is available. Unfortunately, they said that the bulkhead only really gets moved ahead of a major swim meet so there's no way to know ahead of time when that will be possible. It sounds like the Douglas Snow pool is operated in a similar manner unfortunately, so the UofT pool is likely the only option if I ever want to give 50m lengths a try.
Unfortunately, the Athletic Centre pool is quite expensive as they don't sell passes simply for the pool itself. To get in you need to buy a day pass for the entire fitness centre, which is several times more than anywhere else (not too bad for a one-off trip, but those fees can add up when you go regularly). Asside from the admission fees, parking down there can also be pretty expensive as well. Just wish that I could convince my brother to get into swimming, as he has unlimited access to that facility as part of his tuition.
Either way, while the pool was nice I don't know that the trip down there is justifyable without the 50m aspect of things. Looking at the schedules it does look like the Thornhill pool is open on Thursday, so I'll likely give that a try instead and see how it is setup. It's only a 25m pool, but it appears to be more of a competitive facility so hopefully their water temperatures will be similar to the Olympium.