General Questions

What are the criteria for a pool to be listed in the Swimmers Guide Database?
Why have you set minimum criteria for listing?
Who decides which pools to include and exclude from the database?
How do you know about all these pools? Where did you get all this information?
How much does it cost to have a pool or team listed on the site?
I'm interested in finding Olympic-size pools in the areas I'm traveling to. How can I filter the smaller pools out of my search results?
Why can’t I type in some geographical search criteria, say a postal code or city name, and get a list of all the facilities within a specified radius?


What are the criteria for a pool to be listed in the Swimmers Guide Database?
  1. To be included in the database, a pool:
  2. Must be at least 18 meters (59 feet) long; (Exceptions)
  3. It must be open for at least eight full months of the year; and, ( Exceptions)
  4. It should be accessible to the general public (on a "drop-in" or "casual" basis, by membership, through a reciprocal arrangement with affiliated facilities, or by arrangement between the facility and one or more local hotels.) ( Exceptions)
  5. And we won’t list a pool that meets all of the above criteria, unless we know its:
    • Name;
    • Street address;
    • City or town, state or province (if applicable); county or region (if applicable), and country;
    • Area or city code (if used in the country) and telephone number for general inquiries about the pool’s hours, programs, prices, etc
Are there any exceptions to the minimum listing criteria?
    There are several types of pool we will include, even if they don’t meet our general requirements.
  1. Length of pool exceptions -
  2. We include hotel swimming pools as short as 50-feet (15.24-meters). Although short pools aren’t ideal for lap swimming, sometimes travelers, particularly business travelers, don’t have time to get to a larger facility. We feel it’s better to get in a swim in a short pool, than not to be able to swim at all.
  3. We occasionally include other pools (not shorter than 50-feet) that are dedicated and devoted to "learn to swim" programs and/or therapeutic aquatics programs. These are included because we feel it is better for non-swimmers or disabled/impaired pool users to be directed to facilities specifically designed for them, than to general use pools. This leaves more space and lane time in general use pools for the swimmers we are trying to help.
  4. We include other pools (not shorter than 15-meters) in areas where we have not been able to find facilities within a reasonable distance that meet the 18-meter minimum requirement.
  5. We include "treadmill" or "swim-in-place" pools. Although they don’t meet the technical length criterion, practically speaking, you can swim further without turning in one of these puppies than you can in the longest of the pools listed that does meet the technical length requirement.

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Length of operating year exceptions
  1. Occasionally we may find out about a pool that’s open for only six or seven months of the year in an area that doesn’t have very many pools. In those cases, we may include one that’s open for less than 8 full months.
  2. Very rarely, we’ll find out about a pool that’s so well known and well liked by the locals that we’ll waive the minimum length requirement.

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Admission exceptions
  1. We include school, college, and employer health facility swimming pools that do not admit the general public, either on a "drop-in" or membership basis, if they have resident Masters or youth swimming teams and we have contact information for the team. Most teams will allow visiting members of other teams to join workouts for a few days on a guest basis, even if their training pool is not customarily open to anyone else.
  2. Some pools that are highly restrictive in their admission policies are so well known that we include them in spite of the restrictions so swimmers will know not to bother even trying to get into them. (This saves us a lot of time answering email inquiries as to why a well-known facility isn’t on the website.)
      Qualifying pools that aren’t included:
    • Pools that meet the listing criteria but have such limited public access hours (a couple of hours a day on only a few days a week), that they’d simply clutter-up the database.
    • We used to exclude facilities that otherwise qualified for a listing because the water in the pool was kept too warm for anything resembling "real" swimming. We're easing off that restriction because we want people who like warm water pools to go to warm water pools, leaving the cold water pools to more serious swimmers. If someone who likes warm water pools comes to the site and can find only cold water pools, s/he's likely to "bite the bullet" and tie up a lane in a good, cold pool - annoying the serious swimmers there and having an unhappy swim of his or her own, too.

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Why have you set minimum criteria for listing?

The principal reason for limiting the number of facilities on the site is to keep the database manageable in size and useful to our target audience (lap swimmers) throughout the year. It seems that almost every hotel in the world and many health clubs have "swimming pools", many of them too small to swim in. We think that anything shorter than 50-feet is too short for lap swimming. (We call them "Einstein Pools" – keeping track of the number of laps to get in a mile or kilometer long swim gets you into higher mathematics.) Just about every city and town in the temperate zones has at least one outdoor, seasonal, swimming pool – most are open from May to September in the Northern Hemisphere or from November through March in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ve read that there are over 200,000 public pools in the United States, alone. If we included all those pools, the database would become extremely large and cluttered with listings that are of no use to anyone for 50 – 75% of the year. Searching the database for a pool that’s open in the "off-season" would become a tedious and annoying process. It is our experience that finding a good public pool in summer is relatively easy, even non-swimmers in most communities know where the local public pool can be found. But finding a good pool after the summer is over is a whole ‘nother question. The primary purpose of the site and database is to help swimmers find pools where they can swim whatever the season.


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Who decides which pools to include and exclude from the database?

The decision as to whether or not a facility will be included or excluded from the site is solely that of the site’s editor, Bill Haverland. If he decides to put a pool into the database, it goes in; if he decides not to include a pool, it doesn’t go in. It’s that simple. Pool operators and swimmers don’t get a vote. Whether the owner of a pool likes it or not, if Bill thinks a pool should be listed, he lists it; If he thinks it shouldn’t be listed, it doesn’t get listed.


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How do you know about all these pools? Where did you get all this information?

We started developing the database for publication in a book about pools in the United States in 1992. From 1992 through 1995, we mailed questionnaires to thousands of YMCAs, health clubs, hotels, and municipal pools across the country, and published the results in two editions of a book called "Swimmers Guide". The second edition had 3,200 listings, all in the United States. Those pools formed the core of the database. In 1996, we discovered the Internet and started using it as a tool for research. We began learning the ins-and-outs of the various search engines back then, progressing from the original Internet search engines Magellan, Web-Crawler, and Northern Lights, to AltaVista and AllTheWeb.com. Now, we use Google almost exclusively. We first searched in English only (our native language), then expanding to Spanish and Portuguese (which we studied in college), and then learning to use other languages we’ve never studied. We’ve done searches in Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovakian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. The languages that aren’t written in the Latin alphabet are difficult for us to deal with – which explains the limited number of listings in Russia, Greece, the Arabic-speaking nations, Israel, and Thailand, among others. We’ve figured out how to use a variety of Web-based telephone books to find addresses and telephone numbers of pools where we had only names, and to use the telephone numbers in search engines to find their dimensions, addresses, and other critical information. While working with the search engines on our own, we’ve also received information for hundreds of listings from other swimmers who used the "Add-A-Pool" tool on the site.


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How much does it cost to have a pool or team listed on the site?

Nothing, nada, rien, zilch, bupkes. Nobody has ever paid anything to be listed on the site. Nobody has ever been asked to pay anything to be listed on the site. And if we can help it, nobody will ever be asked to pay anything to be listed on the site. If we were to accept money for including a facility or club, it might (OK would) influence our presentation of its information. We don’t want to give up our editorial independence or to have our judgment clouded by financial considerations. The United States Supreme Court doesn't seem to see that money can be corrupting, we're not so naive. And if we did accept money for one listing, it might influence our decisions about other facilities (not to list a competitor’s facility or to present it in a less favorable light). In our humble opinion, that would be even worse. The editorial independence of the Swimmers Guide site’s editor ensures that the information presented is as fair as the editor can make it.


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I'm interested in finding Olympic-size pools in the areas I'm traveling to. How can I filter the smaller pools out of my search results?

The easiest way to find 50m pools on the site is to use the map-based interface. You'll find the link to that page on the home page, simply click on the icon, enter the locality and country you're headed to and choose a radius. When you click on the "Search" button, any 50m pools in the area will be shown with a red map-point, the blue map points are all shorter or longer than 50m. One small caution: Listings show up on the maps only if the pool's coordinates have been manually added to the Swimmers Guide database. Although we had geocoded almost 97% of the listings as of August, 2014, there is still a non-zero probability that we were unable to find the GPS coordinates of a 50m pool in the area you're interested in. A second way to try filtering the database is to use the Google Custom search box just above the footer of the home page: Type in the name of the community (city, state/province, country) and "50m". It will bring up a list of the listings where all of the search terms can be found, as long as Google has indexed the page. Google has indexed 90% of the 23,048 pages on the website. But the best way is to use the basic drill-down search ->Country -> State/Province -> County/Region -> City/Town. Assuming you're looking in a large enough city, when the list of pools in that city or towns comes up, click twice on the column header "Primary Pool Length", the first click will sort the list from shortest to longest; the second click will resort it from longest to shortest. Any 50m pools in the city will rise to the top of the list.


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Why can’t I type in some geographical search criteria, say a postal code or city name, and get a list of all the facilities within a specified radius?

But now you can! Use the map-based interface to specify a location and country, set your radius preference from 5 miles to 100 miles, and click on the "Search" button. Bingo! Note that the location can be a full street address, a postal code, a three-character airport code. The tool is extraordinarily flexible.
Note also, however, that the map will show only the pools that we have found GPS information for. We have spent more than three and a half years collecting GPS data for our listings "by hand" to be sure they're accurate. As of this writing, we have 97% of the listings geocoded and anticipate that we'll get to 98% or 99% by the time we're done. The listings that are not geocoded will not show up among the results in the map based interface, which is precisely why we ask for your help in the listings where we don't have that data.



Most recently updated September, 2014.

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