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Ottawa Preschool Pool Crawl

My eldest at her first Carleton Alumni Swim Meet. Little cold for her, but she was surrounded by family as her Aunty is also a Carleton Swim Alum and her Uncle swam for Ottawa U.Pin
My eldest at her first Carleton Alumni Swim Meet. Little cold for her, but she was surrounded by family as her Aunty is also a Carleton Swim Alum and her Uncle swam for Ottawa U. We don’t hold that against him.

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.

Dora and Arial: The Swim Dollies.Pin
Dora and Arial: Our swim dollies.

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.

Lifeguard Dora posing with our limited edition Canadian Olympic Swimmer Mike Mintenko bobblehead.

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!



Louise lives in Alta Vista with her husband and their two daughters: ages four and two. She works full-time for the Federal Government. She's a former competitive swimmer, enjoys running for fitness, is trying to enjoy cooking and is actively involved in the Carleton University Alumni Association. She likes to write, so: blog hobby. You can visit her blog at http://babygatesdown.wordpress.com.

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  1. This is a great post, Louise! I use to live near Splash! Wave Pool, so I agree with you about the amount of fun a family can have while they are there. I will have to check out the other two pools you mentioned as well!

    All of my kids hate getting water on their face, but love being in the water!

    I’m glad you are actively getting your kids interested in a great sport, especially one that the family can all take part in to increase family bonding time!

    • Thanks so much – Splash is definitely a treat. As for faces in water, I’m hoping my youngest gets over that one soon. My eldest certainly did.

      And that’s the goal – something we can do together as they grow.

      And thanks re: the dolls – I’ll pass that along to the girls 🙂

    • I’m sure there must be pools in Windsor … though I must admit I don’t recall travelling there in my youth for “away” swim meets …

      Well! Should you visit Ottawa, be sure to hit a wave pool!

    • They are both perfect for that age group! I’m sure there are others in Ottawa in other areas too – but we really enjoy those two. Warm too! Warm water is so important (for you too given there’s a lot of standing around when swimming with little kids :))

    • Thanks! There are days where I try to “forget” them to see if I can break the habit.

      No go. They are very much part of the experience at the moment.

  2. When I was growing up I learned to swim at the Splash wave pool on Ogilvie and loved it (although I’m sure it wasn’t as expensive then). I’ll definitely try to check out the one on Cote St. I started taking my son when he was just over 1 years old and he didn’t enjoy it so we have been on bit of a break and I want to start again when I think he will enjoy it a lot more.

    • I’ve taken breaks with my kids too – particularly with lessons. I tried when my eldest was really young and she didn’t love lessons (and found the pool we were at cold) so we took a bit of a break and found a warmer pool which fixed the issue for us.

      The one of Cote is a bit colder than the other two – just as a flag. But the staff there are great!

  3. one of my daughters has just done a baby swimming course and they also took underwater photos – beautiful. I wish they’d done things like this when my own children were young.

    • That’s wonderful. I don’t have any underwater shots of my kids – I should look into that! I didn’t even think about it.

    • Whole worlds of imaginary play with the dolls in the water … I thought they’d be a distraction – and sometimes they are – but I figure the point is playing and having fun and they certainly add to that aspect.

    • So much of whatever you choose to do with your kids is finding something you enjoy as well. I never tried anything like this with mine, but sounds like fun!

  4. Mine were not water babies but we wanted them to have some life skills so encouraged lessons to get the basics down. We always started them in activities and let them choose after a season if they wanted to continue. Usually they did.

    • I think that’s a great approach. I agree that it’s a good idea to teach you kids swim basics even if they don’t love it from a safety perspective. As for letting them choose their activities, mine are a bit young yet for that, but when my 5-year-old was 3, she certainly “unchose” soccer. We haven’t signed up for that since a very painful session of parent and me soccer. We might try again now that she’s older, but she certainly had zero interest at that age.

      Thanks for the comment.

  5. I’m looking for swim lessons for my 3 month old. Do any of these locations offer that? I don’t know Ottawa very well. Any suggestions would be welcome!


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