The 1968 Hollywood film, The Swimmer, starred Burt Lancaster as the man using a series of private swimming pools to travel across Connecticut in the USA. There aren’t enough private swimming pools in the UK to enable keen swimmers to recreate the movie in real life, but don’t let that put you off the idea completely. Why not try swimming around the world, taking in some of the most spectacular pools you could hope to experience?
Even if you don’t fancy a complete round-the-globe trip, it’s still possible to take in some of the most beautiful, astounding and take-your-breath-away swimming pools that other countries have to offer. Next time you’re planning a holiday, try checking out the pool arrangements in the country you’re heading to. You never know – you might discover a hidden gem.
Here’s our pick of some of the most stunning pools that are on our ‘To do’ list.
San Alfonso del Mar, Chile
If we could only visit one world-renowned swimming pool in our lifetime then the pool at the Chilean resort of San Alfonso del Mar would be our chosen destination. Set alongside the Pacific Ocean in Algararobo, the lagoon-style swimming pool at San Alfonso is absolutely vast. It’s the longest swimming pool in the world, so if you’re planning on attempting a few lengths, then you’ll need to make an early start: at over a kilometre, one length of this pool is the equivalent of swimming the length of 20 Olympic swimming pools.
Covering an area of eight hectares, the San Alfonso pool holds a staggering 66 million gallons of water, which is around 250 million litres. Seawater is pumped from the ocean, treated so that it maintains its clarity, and then heated to a luxurious 26 degrees for optimum comfort.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
If you ever find yourselves on a stopover in Singapore, then make it your mission to book in for at least one night at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Head for the 57th floor and prepare to take a dip in one of the world’s highest swimming pool – the SkyPark Infinity Pool.
The SkyPark gives visitors to Singapore the chance to take in a stunning 360 degree view of the city. There are restaurants and gardens to explore but the main focus of everyone’s attention is the astonishing infinity pool. If you’ve got a head for heights, then you’ll love the sensation of swimming among the skyscrapers, but if heights really aren’t your thing, then you’d probably do well to steer clear of this one!
Hanging Gardens, Ubud
Another sky-high pool can be found in Ubud in Indonesia, but this one is far removed from the cityscapes of Singapore. The infinity pool at Hanging Gardens is one of the most photogenic swimming pools in the world and has won numerous accolades. Both Conde Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor have given the pool their coveted Number One slots, on lists of the world’s most beautiful pools, so this is one which should be on every swimmer’s bucket list.
The split-level infinity pools allow swimmers to ‘float’ – quite literally – above the surrounding trees, so that they are completely immersed in the jungle. The romantic setting makes this a popular destination for honeymoons and even weddings, so if you’re planning on getting hitched soon, then it might be worth planning a visit.
Huvafen Fushi, The Maldives
Another top romantic spot, Huvafen Fushi is a swimmer’s paradise. Many of the resort bungalows come with their own pool attached, and the whole resort is surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The swimming pool at the resort is one of the largest on all of the islands that make up the Maldives, but it’s at night that the pool really comes into its own. Fitted with a myriad of lights, the pool twinkles every bit as much as the night sky. The resort also boasts the only saltwater flotation pool in the Maldives, so you can relax and chill when you’re tired from all the swimming.
Bondi Icebergs, Sydney
You might reasonably assume that keen swimmers paying a visit to Bondi Beach in Sydney would immediately head for the famous surf, but in fact, there is more to this beach than the sea. The Bondi Icebergs is one of the oldest and most established winter swimming clubs in the city. Since 1929 die-hard Sydney swimmers have been braving the cold waters and taking part in winter swimming competitions. The only licensed pool in the city, visitors can swim in the pool adjacent to the sea but protected from the sharks and the surf.
North Sydney Olympic Pool, Sydney
Still in Sydney, an absolute ‘must swim’ destination for any swimming enthusiast has to be the North Sydney Olympic Pool. The Art Deco building is a piece of art in its own right, but it’s the incredible views that make this pool such an outstanding place to visit. With unrivalled views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the neighbouring Luna Park, locals recommend visiting after dark, for an impressive, illuminated view across to the iconic Sydney Opera House.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the views, then you will probably appreciate the Olympic dimensions of this pool, where history has been made. No fewer than 86 world records have been set by some of Australia’s finest swimmers.
Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort, Crete
Of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to the other side of the world in order to visit an outstanding swimming pool. Closer to home, in Greece, the Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort is a swimmer’s paradise. Many of the resort’s suites and guest villas come complete with their own pool, but that’s not the end of the story. The resort has an Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool, designed to resemble a Minoan palace, so you can swim to your heart’s content surrounded by history and serene views.
Mardan Palace, Antalya
Turkey is an extremely popular holiday destination within easy reach of the UK. Thousands of British visitors head there every year, but far too few of them know about the country’s world-class swimming pool at the Mardan Palace in Antalya. You may need to save up for a while if you’re planning to visit though, as it’s reputed to be the most expensive resort in all of Europe.
The principal feature of the hotel’s landscaping is the huge outdoor swimming pool. It’s the largest in Europe and is built to resemble an oasis, but with the addition of a ‘canal’ running alongside, complete with gondola. The pool is spanned by an elaborate bridge based on a design by Leonardo da Vinci, which he intended to span the Bosphorus but which had never been built until now. Within the swimming pool is a separate fish tank, which gives the impression of swimming among tropical fish, rays and even sharks.
Molitor Hotel, Paris
Just a Eurostar trip away, Paris is the home of the Molitor Hotel, which began life as a public swimming pool complex. Situated adjacent to the Bois de Boulogne, the building was opened in 1929 by Johnny Weismuller of Tarzan fame, who also happened to be an Olympic swimmer.
Built in the Art-Deco style, the complex was intended to represent an ocean liner and it quickly became a fashionable spot for Parisiens, with Louis Reard showing off his new design of the bikini in 1946. With an indoor pool featuring three tiers of cabins and an outdoor pool which had its own sandy beaches, the Molitor Piscine, as it was known, was a thriving part of the city’s leisure and sporting industries. Sadly it fell into disrepair, and following a brief incarnation as an ice-skating rink, it closed its doors in 1989.
The buildings became home to a group of graffiti artists, before being declared a historic monument. Nowadays, it is enjoying a transformation into a boutique hotel, and the two pools have been restored to their former glory. Every keen swimmer should make an attempt to visit this important destination and swim in these two pools.
Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
Proving that you don’t have to travel far from home to experience superb swimming conditions, you only need to travel as far as East London, to take a dip in Britain’s best known swimming pool. Built as part of Olympic Park which hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, the Aquatics Centre is now open to members of the public for the first time since it was built.
If you’re a confident and experienced swimmer, then you’ll want to head straight for the 50 metre competition pool, divided into lanes so you can swim as many lengths as you wish without fear of collisions. Younger swimmers, beginners and those lacking in confidence can improve their skills in one of the two 25 metre pools. Classes and training sessions are available in addition to public swims, and you can even enrol in the Tom Daley Diving Academy, if you’ve got a head for heights and a yearning to try a dive off one of the high boards.
Whether you’re a keen amateur swimmer or a seasoned professional, there are opportunities to indulge your passion all around the world. So next time you’re planning a holiday, remember to check out the pools at your destination – you might just find something unexpected!