Dreaming of Sunshine and Salt Water

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It was -12 degrees at my house this morning.  There are reports of wind chills below negative fifty in North Dakota.  In the Rocky Mountains, we find no irony in the mid-winter ritual of wishing for more snow out of one side of our mouths while dreaming of Baja beach vacations out of the other.  Well, we have (some) snow and plenty of cold at our doorsteps, so let’s take a trip to a coastal clime or two.

Several places in Great Britain, along the northern coast of France at St Malo, and along the east coast of Australia in and around Sydney boast seawater swimming pools, some hewn directly from the rock composing the shore.  The pools are filled and refreshed with the rising tide, often completely disappearing under the advancing waves.  As the tide ebbs, the edges and form of the pool reappear; the user’s experience of the pool changes throughout the cycle of the tides. The pool at St Malo even has a diving platform that is accessed by swimming at high tide and by walking along the pool wall’s coping at low tide.  I was able to find a few of Sydney’s pools with a quick scan of the coastline in Google Earth (hint: look for parking areas near a rocky beach); the St Malo pool is visible but empty in the Google aerial.  These pools are often located along the craggy, rocky shorelines adjacent to more common sand beaches, creating access to an experience that is part ocean and part resort swimming pool.

The following articles contain many more photos and descriptions of the various pool locations, configurations, and uses:

The New York Times


Information complied by Oliver Merrington

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  1. Ha, and I thought I was cold last night in 55 degree weather?! I even bundled up with a scarf! Life in California is rough… :)

  2. Jason, the pictures are gorgeous and so inviting; but I can’t help wondering what else one would be swimming with? The Times article references the pool in Sydney having a blue fish and Octopus as companions for a time!

  3. Oh what a lovely sight to behold on this frigid Minnesota afternoon!

  4. Judy – you are exactly right. Most of these pools (that I’ve seen) are located in developed resort-type areas and there is no shortage of “typical” structured swimming pools or public beach access. These seawater pools offer a middle ground; some individuals that were interviewed use the pools for the very reason you describe – limited exposure to potentially dangerous tidal flows, etc, but an ocean experience nonetheless. I think the social aspect plays here as well – the pools are interesting and unusual, and give people another place to gather at the water’s edge.

  5. I’ve seen similar ‘pools’ created as a solution to very rocky shorelines where the pool deck is used for sun bathing in place of a beach and access into the water is simplified with steps and ladders. Basically a huge public pool with sea water flowing in and out.

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