So, I have decided to go with swimming. The question is, where? There are a number of pools in the Baltimore area, but I live about 40 minutes from the city. I work just outside of the city, though. There is no "perfect" pool - they all have some flaws. Plus, I live in the middle of nowhere. What do you think?
Is an indoor pool located at a gym that is about 30 minutes from my house, and about 30 minutes from my office. It's not too far (maybe 10-15 minutes) from where I typically do my weekday runs. I know a bunch of people who go to this gym, and who swim there. It is a four lane, 25 yard lap pool, and membership gets me in to any of the gyms in the area owned by the same company (although none of the other ones are any more convenient than this one). It has a masters program, but it costs extra. It is $50 per month.
Another indoor pool also located in a gym. This gym is right next door to the shopping center where my running store is (and where I go one or two times per week). It's 35-40 minutes from my house and 15-20 minutes from my office. I know a few members, and this is also where I took swimming lessons back in 2006. I love this pool and this gym. The gym also has a self-belay rock climbing wall and an indoor track and is just the best gym in Baltimore. The pool is 25 yards and has 5 lanes and it is a salt water pool. That's a HUGE selling point for me, since I have colored hair and have not yet figured out how to properly put on a swim cap. There is a masters program, but it is really early in the morning (starts at 6:15am). It is $89 per month.
Is an outdoor pool located only 3 miles (10 minutes, tops) from my house. It is next to a gym, but the membership is for the pool only - no gym access except the locker rooms/bathrooms/showers. During the winter months, there is a dome over the pool and the air temps are kept at 72-75. Water temps are currently at 80, but they are about to put in a geothermal heat system to keep the temperature at 81-83. We belonged to this pool for a few summers (I've never been there with the dome on), and we had trouble getting lanes because either the swim team was always there or kids and adults were just hanging out and playing in the lanes. Because of these problems, we decided not to renew our summer membership for the past 2 summers - but they're now under new management. Due to scheduling, I'd only be able to go to this pool before work and after 7pm, since the swim team is there every evening. However, during the summer when the pool is outdoors, the swim team meets in the morning and evening, so the only time available for open swim is after 7:00pm (or during the day, which obviously I can't do). It is 25 yards, 8 lanes. They are working on getting a masters program, and it would be late in the evening (7:30pm-8:30pm). It is $29 per month.
I know that the no brainer seems to be Pool #3, but part of me really wants to do Pool #2. What can I say? I have expensive taste. Will the convenience of Pool #3 make me go more often, or will I go more to Pool #2 because I've spent so much and need to feel like I'm not wasting the money? Despite how close pool #3 is to my house, I am not sure that it would save me much time because I would go to the pool in the morning, then go home and get ready for work, then go back out and head down to work (about 30-35 mins away). With Pools #1 and #2 I would get ready for work at the pool and go straight into the office.
What would you choose?