As a former competitive swimmer, lifeguard, coach and all round lover of water I couldn’t wait to have kids so I could push them into my sport and live vicariously through them.
Wait… that’s not right.
I mean, I couldn’t wait to share my love of water with them.
Yes! That’s what I meant.
Either way, as soon as both were able to hold their heads up, we were at the pool.
And five years into parenting? Swimming is a weekly event both girls look forward to.
My 5-year-old can now swim a bit and spends large amounts of time underwater pretending to be a mermaid.
My 2-year-old is overcoming a newfound (developmental?!) hatred of any body of water where she cannot touch the bottom. No swimming yet, though she happily wears goggles so long as she isn’t expected to put her face in the water.
I don’t push (much) and I (try to) leave teaching to lessons. If they figure out a few things while playing, great, but I want them to remember the fun of the family experience, not me drilling them on how to back star.
With that said, I wanted to share our three favourite pools with you.
But before starting this pool crawl, I need to introduce our aqua entourage.
My 5-year-old travels everywhere with a lot of dolls. When we go swimming, Dora and “Ariel” have been joining us for almost two years now.
Neither were originally water toys, but bad hair notwithstanding they’re holding up pretty well. They are also buoyant and helped my eldest initially learn to swim as she … lovingly held them.
So added bonus.
Here’s where you might catch them out and about:
1. Deborah Anne Kirwan (1300 Kitchener)
Attached to Clifford Bowey Public School, the pool is amazing for young kids. Warm; beach-front entry; toddler pool with slide; hot tub and Tarzan rope.
My 5-year-old could stand through most of the shallow end at 3 which did wonders for her confidence.
My 2-year-old currently loves the beach entry and the slide and my eldest has just discovered the Tarzan rope (with life jacket) in the deep end.
We currently do lessons Wednesday nights; bring granny; and stay for open swim after so the four of us can enjoy a weekly outing. At less than $6.00 for all of us it’s an affordable evening out. And added bonus for me? Long family/open swim time slots. They have weekday open swims all longer than an hour and weekend swims that run all afternoon, so I don’t have to race to make it.
2. Splash Wave Pool (2040 Ogilvie Road)
This is our closest of the Ottawa Wave Pools so we go here as a treat, given it’s more expensive.
At this stage, the wave mark up is still a bit of a waste because both my kids could take or leave the waves. What they love is the preschool pool area. It’s an absolute oasis of kiddy aqua fun: slide, spouting water and ability to STAND everywhere. My eldest also initially figured out she could “blast off/swim” in the hot tub because the distance between walls was ideal. My youngest enjoys exploring the beachfront entry to the main pool and they both love floating on the mats.
I see this facility growing with my kids. There’s a water slide my eldest can’t wait to try once she can swim a bit better, and there’s the waves which they both enjoy when I can get them to go. There’s also a lane pool with a deep end where they can play and swim when they’re older. And again, it has prolonged weekend open swims for lots of scheduling flexibility.
3. St. Laurent Pool (525 Côté St.)
I almost didn’t include this one, but my 5-year-old has been asking to check it out, so we did.
It’s a standard 5-lane rectangular pool in the complex where my kids take dance and gymnastics, so they see the pool all the time.
I honestly thought the trip would be a bit of a wash (hee, hee) but it wasn’t. My eldest could stand and swim about the shallow end which helped because I had to hold my youngest as she couldn’t touch the bottom.
There was a Tarzan rope and a basketball net that we checked out. Open swim was only an hour and a half (which meant I really had to schedule to go), but the staff were very friendly and the showers …
… we need to pause on the awesome showers.
Public pool shower winner to date. Lots of showers; lots of space; water pressure; and none of those “timers” that keep turning them off on you.
Once you have kids who can stand in the shallow end or swim a bit? Definitely a pool to consider.
In closing, getting back to whether swimming is more for me or my kids, I need to share one of the Christmas presents I recently found for my youngest so she can have her own swim dolly.
It’s Lifeguard Dora! I know she’ll watch over Mike and our other swim dolls and keep them safe. Mike has ben hanging out in our kitchen since my eldest discovered him amongst my things a few years back and felt he deserved a place of honour near our sink.
What about you? Do you have a favourite Ottawa pool for kids? Is there an activity you love or can’t wait to share with your kids? I’d love to know about it!