Can’t get away this winter? Montgomery County has plenty of indoor pools to help with your staycation fun! The Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center, located just minutes from the White Flint metro station and the bustle of Rockville Pike is one place to swim all winter long.
The KSAC indoor pool complex has two lap pools, a small workout facility, 2 hydrotherapy pools, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a large leisure pool. On a brisk Thursday afternoon my family headed to the complex for open swim. No reservations or membership is necessary to access any of the county pools during open swim hours. County residents pay $6 per adult and $4 for children 17 and under. Non residents pay $6.50 per child and $7.50 per adult.
For my 4 and 6 year olds, open swim means time spent in the leisure pool. The leisure pool here at the KSAC is pretty basic. Depth ranges from 6 inches to 3 feet, 3 inches with a beach entry into the pool on one side. A waterfall, umbrella water feature and sprinkler complete the kid friendly features. The water and air temperatures inside of the pool facility are warm enough to be comfortable in and out of the water even on a cold December day. There is one large water slide which goes along the roof of the building but kids need to be a minimum of four feet tall to have access to it (and they do measure).
The KSAC does not allow toys to be brought in for use in the pool. For my kids, this was a big disappointment as they love to use their dive sticks to practice swimming under water. This rule has not been in effect at the other county pools that we have visited in the past so I am not sure if this rule is specific to the KSAC or the other county pools have adapted this rule as well (I hope not!). The pool does provide a limited amount of life jackets in sizes XS and small for use by their young guests. Overall our swimming experience at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center was a pleasant one but my kids both said that given the choice they would return to the Olney or Germantown pools for open swim instead.
Lap lanes are available for the early and late sessions but not for those from 3:30 to 5pm. Kids are permitted in the lap pool for swimming practice only. Kick boards for the lap pools are not available for use in the leisure pool.
Locker rooms at the KSAC are basic and have a changing table, sauna, restrooms, lockers and open showers. It is strongly advised that you do not leave anything unlocked as they have recently had a few reports of car keys being stolen from lockers. If you do not have a lock, free token lockers for valuables are located in the upstairs lobby.
For a visit to the KSAC in winter, you may want to consider bringing a hair dryer for your kids. The hand dryers in the locker room are located really high up on the wall and my kids had to leave with wet heads because the air didn’t reach them with enough pressure to get them dry. Kids 6 and older are supposed to change in the appropriate changing room but it looked like many parents were not paying attention to that rule. Family changing rooms are available for use if you are uncomfortable sending your child into a separate locker room alone.
All Montgomery County public pools require both swim diapers and plastic pants for children who are not potty trained. Both items are advertised for sale at the front desk for $2 each. Cash and credit card transactions are accepted for purchases and admission. Everyone on the pool deck must be in swimsuit attire and all kids must have a chaperone with them. Additional family members who do not want to swim can watch from the upstairs observation deck.
A few tips for a fun day of swimming
- Bring goggles for your kids (and yourself). The indoor pools are highly chlorinated.
- Be sure to bring a plastic bag to put your wet suits and towels in for your trip home.
- Pack a change of clothes for everyone and a brush if you plan to have your kids shower after swimming.
- Bring a snack or drink to have after you are all done. My kids are always ravenous after they get out of the pool. Water fountains are available both on the pool deck and in the upstairs lobby. Sodas and water are also for sale in 2 machines for $1.50 each.
For more winter swimming fun visit the other Montgomery County indoor pool facilities in Silver Spring (MLK Swim Center), Olney and Germantown.