What pool do you go to?
We are about to embark on a new pool adventure. After years as members of the YMCA outdoor pool, we have decided to break off and follow the neighborhood kids to the local swim club. This is a totally new experience for me. Where I grew up we didn’t have swim clubs. This option is a little pricier than the YMCA and there is no waterpark, but I am hoping the opportunity to run around with their school friends (and the peace that comes from fully-entertained kids) will more than make up for it.
If you are still in the market for a summer pool membership, as I see it, you have four options, join a swim club, opt for a membership at a local fitness center with an outdoor swimming pool, rent an apartment with pool amenities or develop a close friendship with someone that owns their own pool.
So, let’s break those down.
West Chester Swim Clubs
Where I grew up, we didn’t have swim clubs. You just chose between the public pool and the country club or, for the naturalists, the city’s man-made lake. The whole idea of a swim club feels very Don and Betty Draper to me, which I am not saying is a bad thing.
If you are looking to join a swim club, just make a note to start the process early and be prepared for a waitlist, as the clubs fill up quickly. Roslyn Swim Club had over 80 families on the waitlist when the 2022 welcome email went out earlier this month.
“Most clubs will have waiting lists since there are not that many for such a large area as ours,” said one helpful neighbor on NextDoor.
As of the writing of this article two of the clubs are at capacity for the 2021 swim season but Waterview still had a few openings available.
Waterview Swim Club
About: Waterview Swim Club is located on a beautiful three acre property in residential West Chester, PA.
Location: 2 Waterview Road, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: Membership fee is based on family size: $650 for a family of four.
Swim team: Waterview sharks
Facilities: Main pool, wading pool, picnic area with grill, playground, basketball court, shuffleboard, snack bar
Events/activities: Swim team, swim lessons, lifeguard training courses, in previous years they have also hosted onsite events such as, school’s out pizza party, teen party, movie nights, raft night
Pool opens: May 28
Roslyn Swim Club
About: Or as described on their website: “A neighborhood pool where families and friends gather to enjoy the sun, water and companionship.”
Location: 838 Spruce Avenue, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: Membership is fee is based on family size: $565 for a family of four. In addition to the membership fee, there is also a $75/annual pool improvement fee and for new members an initiation fee is also due. The $400/one time fee is paid out in $200 increments over the first two years of membership.
Swim team: Roslyn Stingrays
Facilities: Baby pool, lap pool, water slide, pavilion.
Events/activities: Swim lessons, pool parties
Pool opens: May 30
While full summer membership is full for the season. Rosyln usually offers an August-only membership which can be a cost effective way to see if the swim club experience for you. As Membership coordinator Stephanie Heron-Birl shared, “you get to try it out and see if it’s a good fit for you and it automatically gets you in as a full member the following year.”
This is the pool we have decided to join this year. I will let you know if it lives up to all my Mad Men fantasies.
Wedgewood Swim Club
About: Wedgewood is a member-owned and run swim club. They describe themselves as a place “where families come to meet.” A member of NextDoor attested to that saying, “It’s a great community and the swim team is fun!”
Location: 957 S. Matlack Street, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: Membership is $610/year for a family of four for the season. In addition to membership dues, members must pay a club improvement fee ($550/billed over the first two years, $75/year there after. It was $50 and older members may have been grandfathered in at this rate) and invest in a bond for the pool which is another $500. However, that $500 expense is reimbursed when the member leaves the club and the bond is sold to a new family.
Swim team: Wedgewood Whales
Facilities: Main pool with diving area; lap pool; Baby pool; Bathroom and shower area; Covered pavilion with TV, deck large picnic area; charcoal grills
Events/activities: pool parties, bingo, swim lessons, basketball, volleyball and horseshoe pits.
Wedgewood is also at capacity for the 2022 season but it is never too early to get your name on the waitlist. “You can apply for membership and your name will stay on the waitlist until we get to your position,” their membership team shared.
Pool opens: May 30
Quarry Swim Association
About: The Quarry Swim Association is West Chester’s only natural swimming hole. It’s also one of the oldest organized swim clubs in the United States and certainly the most secrative in the West Chester area. I had a very hard time finding anything about this apparent hidden gem located at the former site of Brinton’s quarry, which according to The American Mineralist opened in 1730 – the quarry, not the swim club. While the quarry was best known for the distinctive green serpantine rock that was mined there, the swim club seems to be known for the wonder of the quarry itself.
While the swim club website’s is down, a link to the History of the The Quarry written in 2002 remains. Written in celebration of the Quarry’s 100th anniversary as a swim club it provides so helpful insights into this mysterious wonder. Including the following description:
“You might well remember the first time you saw the Quarry. You, like us, were probably struck by the unique natural beauty and improbable setting that unfolded before you. It’s difficult to adequately describe that setting to someone else, just as it’s challenging to give meaning to the Quarry’s ancient geological origins.”
But it does exist: ” Just wanted to let you know there is another swim club in West Chester,” a current member emailed me. “There is a beach and volleyball. It’s absolutely heaven on earth.”
Location: 1153 S. New Street
Membership requirements: Members of the Quarry Swim club are required to purchase a Certificate of Membership. In 1962, over 100 future members agreed to purchase these membership certificates at $100/per family thus raising the funds needed to purchase the property from its owner.
“The issuance of a Certificate of Membership, still $100, remains as an integral part of the admissions process,” The History of the The Quarry states. I cannot confirm the price of a Certificate of Membership is still $100 today, but I would guess the Certificate of Membership is.
Membership at this natural quarry is purposefully kept quite small and while the exact process has changed a bit over the years, you’re not getting in without an in.
“Whatever the language, it’s still informal, by invitation only,” The History says.
Facilities: Sand beach, volleyball, natural swimming hole
Fitness Center Swimming Pools
West Chester YMCA
About: Spend the summer “cool at the pool” with your membership to the West Chester YMCA outdoor pool. Their words, but we’ve enjoyed our time there and as one Next Door contributor described it: “The Y is nice and has slides and other fun things to climb on in the pool.”
Location: 605 Airport Road, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: To get access to the outdoor pool you must be a member of the YMCA and also purchase a pool membership which is a separate fee. The fee to the pool, $475 for a family membership, actually less than what is was in previous years and if you sign up by April 30, you can get your summer membership at a discounted rate.
Note: while some area Ys, like Kennett Area YMCA, include outdoor pool access with their membership, West Chester does not.
Swim team: The Marlins
Facilities: Baby pool, six-lane adult pool, interactive pirate ship with dumping bucket, multiple pool slides, snack bar.
Events/activities: The pool hosts themed events throughout the summer. Also, gym and class access as you need to be a member to join the pool. Note: they also bring campers to the pool so it can get crowded during the day.
Pool opens: May 31
ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center
Location: 1130 McDermott Drive, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: $170-189/month for a family membership but that gets you access to the two outdoor pools, indoor pools, group exercise classes, Kids Zone and towel service (not sure what that entails but sounds fancy). Only caveat – you have to sign up for the year.
Swim team: The Dolphins
Facilities: Two waterslides, baby pool, lap pool, café
Activities/events: Pool parties, swim lessons, poolside café offering sandwiches, smoothies and more. Also, gym and class access as you need to be a member to join the pool.
Pool opens: TBD, but the heated pools at ACAC allow for an extended outdoor season.
West Chester Country Club
About: According to their website, the club emphasizes family togetherness, enjoyment and relaxation. Sounds like summer to me.
Location: 111 W. Ashbridge Street, West Chester, PA
Membership requirements: You can join as a full social member that includes all the amenities (tennis, pool, dining and golf) or you can join just the pool. There are still dining requirements with the pool membership and in addition to the cost of the annual membership and the bi-monthly dining minimums, there are monthly improvement fees, a one time initiation fee, and certificate purchase.
Swim team: WCGCC Piranhas
Facilities: 25-meter lap pool with diving board, baby pool with fountains, full-service kitchen with wait staff and full bar.
Activities/events: Pool parties and (in case full-service bar wasn’t clear) poolside cocktails.
Pool opens: May 31
Now, if you have the foresight and the means, perhaps the easiest way to guarantee you have a place to swim all summer, is to rent from a building with a pool.
Try: New Kent, Heather Glen, Heather Glen, The Pointe at Windermere, Chestnut Square, or the newly opened Luxor Lifestyle Apartments – all of which list “swimming pool” among their amenities.
Or maybe it’s time to pay those neighbors with the beautiful in-ground pool a surprise visit?
Summer is upon us. Enjoy.
Plus, don’t forget West Chester’s splash park.