Everyone loves free things, and this year, swimming is accessible at our local watering holes.

A photograph of Gibbons Pool. Photograph by Elizabeth McDonald.
Gibbons Pool. Photograph by Elizabeth McDonald.

We all saw photos of packed beaches last summer.  People swarm to do anything outside of their homes after months of lockdown. The closest beaches are Port Stanley and Grand Bend. Both are about an hour away. Not everyone drives and some Londoners can’t be around groups of people right now.

Here is where the City of London pools come in. For the low cost of zero dollars, you can jump into city pools.

Two female lifegaurds are sitting on a bench and taking a break at Gibbons Pool.
Lifeguards Maddison Wardle (left) and Grace Reid (right with mask) take a break from the sun. Photograph by Elizabeth McDonald.

You can book a time slot for the city’s outdoor pools and enjoy clean and serene water while never leaving the city. All you need to do is go on the City of London’s website and book a time slot at any of the ten outdoor pools.

Pool and Park

Once on the website, you can use or create a Play Your Way account. Play Your Way is an online platform for registering in city programs. I’m partial to Gibbons’ pool, located in the picturesque Gibbons Park. I chose that pool and looked at the calendar for time slots.

A sign with a map stands in a field outside Gibbons Pool. Photograph by Elizabeth McDonald.
Gibbons Park offers a map as you approach Gibbons Pool. Photograph by Elizabeth McDonald.

Gibbons is one of my favourite spots in the picturesque Forest City for a lot of reasons. One benefit is free three-hour parking. Some of the other amenities include:

  • 3 tennis courts
  • a splash pad
  • playgrounds
  • picnic tables
  • bbq’s with lots of green space
  • cycling/walking/running paths

Many Ways to Play

London’s free cool-down dips are available for a variety of uses. Options include pre-registered drop-in recreation or lane swims, parent and tot sessions, and classes like aquafit.

I visited throughout the week. Traffic flow is one way to ensure proper physical distancing, and you must come prepared to swim. Being ready means arriving in your swimsuit as the change room is not available.

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Whatever neighbourhood you live in, the City of London has provided equitable access to cool down at city pools. So don’t forget to have some safe fun and beat the heat in the 519!

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