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Dive In: Where to Swim in San Francisco
Monday, July 04, 2022

Dive In: Where to Swim in San Francisco

Today’s 90-something-degree weather is so rare that plenty of San Franciscans don’t even know where they can take a dip to cool off. 

Luckily, there are plenty of public pools for splashing down around town. The San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, the YMCA and several private clubs offer slots for locals as well as reasonable drop-in and monthly pricing. 

Although most of the city’s beaches are not safe for swimming, members of the Dolphin Club and South End Rowing Club have done their laps in the bay since the late 1800s. On Thursday morning, Aquatic Park was packed with lap swimmers, summer campers, families and paddle boarders beating the heat. 

San Franciscans and tourists enjoy the sunshine at Aquatic Park, near Ghirardelli Square, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. on June 21, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

“There’s nothing like a swim in the bay,” says Briana McCarthy, who beelines to the Dolphin Club once a week from her home in Concord — scorching weather or no. 

“Getting out here in the salt water is good for your mental health,” says McCarthy (implicitly agreeing with Warrior Klay Thompson). “The cold water stays with you for the rest of the day. It makes you feel more centered and calm.” 

Both Dolphin and South End offer public access to their facilities on alternating days of the week for just $10, making it easier to get into the bay for open water laps.

A swimmer enters the bay at the Dolphin Club on June 21, 2022 | Maryann Jones Thompson/The Standard

But if the bay sounds a bit too chilly, check out The Standard’s map and guide to swimming pools in San Francisco below. Just grab your towel (and your vaccination card), check each website for details, and dive in before SF summer weather kicks in.

Public Swimming Pools in San Francisco

Rossi Pool | San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department

Angelo J. Rossi Pool

Inner Richmond

Brand-spanking-new and reopened to the public in February 2022 after a major, $15 million renovation, the Rossi Pool is closed Sunday and Monday but open morning-’til-night all other days of the week.

Aquatic Park Cove

Fort Mason

Join the regulars doing open-water laps in the enclosed bay. No lifeguards are on duty but there are buoy lines in place to guide swimmers. Dating from the late 1800s, both the Dolphin Club and South End Rowing Club offer public access to their facilities on alternating days of the week (except Sundays) for just $10. 

Balboa Pool

Mission Terrace

The Balboa is popular for lap and recreational swimming because the city pool is flanked by a wall of windows that provide an expansive view of the city.

Coffman Pool

Visitacion Valley

The 10,000-square-foot city pool offers recreational swim, learn-to-swim lessons, water aerobics, underwater hockey and lap swimming.

Crissy Field West

Presidio

The Presidio’s main beach offers an experts-only spot for open-water swimming, windsurfing and kite surfing. 

Embarcadero YMCA

Embarcadero

This Y provides lots of ways to exercise: lap swim, water walk or build aqua strength. A pool divider separates the lap swimming lanes from the group classes section.

New mural on walls of Garfield Pool was created in collaboration with Precita Eyes. | San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

Garfield Pool

Mission

A local favorite offering swim classes and programs aplenty for tots to seniors and every age in between. This 6-lane city-run lap pool features a stained glass mural designed by  Favianna Rodriguez as part of its recent $19.7 million renovation. 

Hamilton Aquatic Center

Lower Pacific Heights

This city swim center features a large heated pool with two water slides. Enjoy morning lap swimming from 6:30-10 a.m. Tuesday through-Friday Pool party bookings are still on hold due to Covid. 

JCC

Laurel Village

Full-day passes access the pool and the entire health facility. The JCC pool is on the smaller side, something to consider while planning a visit. There is a rec pool and a lap pool. Summer camps are in session and will impact pool space in the rec pool. 

Koret Health and Recreation

Inner Richmond

Master swimmers are welcome at the Koret pool. Monthly memberships cost $65 per month for seniors and $90 for adults with annual U.S. Masters Swimmers membership.

MLK Pool | San Francisco Recreation and Parks

Martin Luther King Jr. Pool

Bayview-Hunters Point

SF Rec and Parks offers a 25-by-25-meter pool and a wading pool for tots. Lap swimming and learn-to-swim lessons are available. 

Mission Pool | San Francisco Recreation and Parks

Mission Community Pool

Mission

The Mission is home to the only city-operated outdoor pool in SF. Sign up for lessons or enjoy recreational and lap swimming.

North Beach Pool

North Beach

This SF Rec and Parks swim center features two pools: one for lap swimming and one for recreating. Lap swim, senior/therapy swim, family swim and lessons offered. 

Presidio Community Letterman Aquatics Center YMCA

Presidio

Six-lane indoor pool. Bring your own towel. Be sure to check pool rules and lane swimming etiquette. Proof of vaccination no longer required. 

Sava Pool

Sunset

Sava is a city-run neighborhood swim center;  Pool party bookings are still on hold due to Covid.

Stonestown YMCA

Merced Manor

Lots to do: lap swim, water walk, recreational swim, take private, semi-private and group lessons or water fitness classes. Dip in the hot tub too.

Maryann Jones Thompson can be reached at [email protected].
Contributor: Jiyun Tsai.

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