Philly: How to dive into swimming without a gym membership


By Melissa Dipento

All winter long, many of us work out indoors, hoping for just one mild, sunny day so we can lace up our sneakers and go out for a run. Then spring arrives, but it passes by quickly. And before we know it, temperatures soar above 90 degrees. 

Thankfully, summertime does grace us with longer days and more sunlight. But those long sunny days come at a cost. During the hottest months of the year, we must remember to exercise early, hydrate correctly, be mindful of the sun’s vibrant rays, and promise not to overdo it. 

Has exercising outdoors been a challenge for you lately? Well, don’t sweat it! 



You can get a great workout by adding swimming to your exercise regimen. Swimming is a low- impact sport, so it’s perfect for injured athletes who need to take it easy. And since water is much more resistant than air, you get both the benefits of a cardio and a strength workout in the pool. And best of all, swimming can make you a better runner! 

If you’re ready to give swimming a try and live in Philadelphia, you’re in luck! The city’s Parks and Recreation department staffs 70 free public pools across the region. Click here to search for your neighborhood pool. 

Pool hours, in general, are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. At some locations, hours do vary. It’s best to check the website or call your local pool before attending. 

Create Your Own Workout

Since school is out for the summer, many of the pools are utilized by hundreds of local children each day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a space of your own to work out in. 

The John B. Kelly pool – located at 4231 Lansdowne Drive, near the Please Touch Museum – maintains two open swim lanes throughout the summer. The lanes are specifically intended for adults who want to swim laps. The lane hours are 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 4:45 p.m. on weekends. 

Water Aerobics & Zumba

If you’re looking for more structure when it comes to working out in the pool, you can take one of the city’s aquatic classes. 

The Sayre Morris pool –  an indoor pool located at 5835 Spruce Street – offers lap swimming lanes, as well as water aerobics classes. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. 
This season, the city’s new Swim Philly initiative is helping to spruce up four city pools. In addition to the new colorful chairs and umbrellas, fresh paint and pool accessories, the city is also providing a number of free community programs like poolside yoga, aqua zumba and water yoga. 

Aqua Zumba is a low-impact, high-energy aquatic workout. Classes are held at five locations throughout the week: 

Where: Lawncrest pool
When: Mondays at 6 p.m. 

Where: Lee pool
When: Tuesdays at 6 p.m. 

Where: Pleasant pool
When: Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

Where: Francisville pool
When: Wednesdays at 6 p.m. 

Where: O’Connor pool
When: Thursdays at 6 p.m. 


Water yoga takes poses of the mat and into the pool. Class is held once a week: 

Where: O’Connor pool
When: Tuesdays at 7 p.m. 

Poolside yoga is also held at two city locations. This is outside the pool, so bring your own mat: 

Where: Francisville and Pleasant pools
When: Thursdays at 7 p.m. 

So now that you know where to go, grab a friend, your swimsuit and goggles. And remember to hydrate like you would for running or other outdoor sports. Staying adequately hydrated – even though you’re in a pool of water – is critically important!

How To Dive Into Swimming Without A Gym Membership was submitted by Melissa DiPento, a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. You can find more of Melissa’s work on her blog. You can follow Melissa on Instagram at @mdipento.