The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ask Chicagoist: Indoor Swimming Options?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Nov 5, 2007 10:49PM

2007_11_askpools.jpgHi Chicagoist,
I'm moving to Bucktown next month, and have been hoping to find a pool nearby. I was thinking a fitness center or YMCA, but was surprised to find a Natatorium close to my new house. I checked it out on Metromix, but they didn't have any reviews. Do you have any info on it? Metromix says its free, which I just couldn't believe! Is this true? Is it mainly a family pool? I used to swim competitively so obviously I'm looking for a pool with lanes for lap swimming. Any insight on this (or other cool places to swim indoors — it's getting cold!) would be much appreciated.


ps: I couldn't find a website for it. I usually find that places that don't have websites are either a) awesome and a well kept secret or b) sketch.

Our Dear Julie,

Technically, the loftily named Natatorium ("indoor swimming pool") is a part of the Chicago Park District's Eckhart Park, so yes, it is indeed free — sometimes. It's also nothing to be scared of. Like any of the Park District's pools or fitness centers, you may have to scope things out a bit to see when you'll be shut out due to classes, or due to throngs of kids.

So "Family Swim" is free (and you'll have to compete with neighborhood kids who probably aren't really into swimming laps), but for $20 you can sign up for "Lap Swim" which is restricted to those 18 and over. You can even register online for the season. Well, in theory you can. All the slots are currently full, so you'll probably have to take your chances at the open sessions, or look elsewhere for an indoor pool. Either way, keep a sharp eye on the website next time so you can get your registration in early. Or stop by and see if there's a waiting list or a miraculously open slot.

Be sure to check out this complete list of all Chicago Park District indoor pools. We're pretty sure you're going to run into the same "full" problem at all the spots, but nice to see all the options, anyway.

So where else to go?

Check out a YMCA near you and see if you're lucky enough to be near one with a pool. The Irving Park YMCA (4251 W. Irving Park, 773-777-7500), Lakeview YMCA (3333 N. Marshfield, 773-248-3333), South Side YMCA (6330 S. Stony Island, 773-947-0700), and Wabash YMCA (3763 S. Wabash, 773-285-0020) all have indoor pools.

If you've come this far and are still stuck, you may need to consider a more pricey option, like a health club. You might want to visit Equinox Fitness Clubs (900 N. Michigan, 312-254-2500), Lakeshore Athletic Clubs (441 N. Wabash, 312-644-4880), Gerald Ratner Athletics Center (5524 S. Ellis, 773-702-3871), Gold Coast Multiplex (1030 N. Clark, 312-944-1030), Edgewater Athletic and Swim Club (1040 W. Granville, 773-262-2455), or Galter LifeCenter (5157 N. Francisco, 773-878-9936) — none of which, we realize, are too close to Bucktown.

What did we miss? Where can Julie go to get some laps in?

Image via colros.

Time to drop the kids off at the pool? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.