Wilson Aquatic Center is a very child-friendly indoor facility. It is a bright building with a large pool perfect for kids that is completely separate from the “grown-up” pool. The children’s pool is divided into two sections. The more popular section features two fountains and is good for infants on up. Children who are barely old enough to sit up can play in water no more than puddle deep near the level entrance to the pool.
Toddlers enjoy walking, splashing, or swimming in this section of the pool which is only three feet deep at its deepest point. My five year old can easily stand in this section of the pool. There are also several small balls and a couple of basketball hoops available for kids to play with while in the pool.
Be aware that the fountains are frequently off and there is no schedule as to when they run. The pool is fun even when the fountains are off, but you can ask the manager to turn them on when you arrive if they are not running.
The other section of the children’s pool is designed for children learning to swim and swimmers up to age 12. It is an open area that goes up to five feet. Lessons are held in this section of the pool for children and senior citizens so it is not always available for use.
When it is open, children can often be seen practicing going underwater or trying out some strokes. Kickboards are available for children to use.
Wilson also has an Olympic sized swimming pool with lanes and diving boards for older children. One lane is usually dedicated for leisure use and can be used by children when a section of the children’s pool is closed or on the rare occasions the entire children’s pool is closed.
Lifeguards are on duty whenever the pools are open.
Although the children’s pool is relatively shallow, I bring lifejackets for my children whenever I go with more than one. Children in diapers will need a swim diaper. I recommend arriving at the pool already wearing swimsuits if possible. Also remember to pack your towel.
There are men’s, women’s, and family changing rooms. All changing rooms have lockers you can use with your own locks, showers, and changing tables. The family changing room has several private rooms with showers. If your child is a different gender than you and over three you are required to use the family changing room.
Although rare, some thefts have been reported from the changing rooms so it is recommended that you leave valuables at home and take care to lock up everything you do bring in.
Access to the Wilson Aquatic Center is free for DC residents. For non-residents, daily access is $3.00 for children under 6, $4.00 for children 6 to 17, and $7.00 for adults. 30 and 90 day passes are available for non-residents who plan on using the pool frequently.
Staff will check your ID at the door so be sure to have it on you whether or not you are a DC resident. Wilson is very stroller-friendly. There is an elevator that will take you from street level down to the level with the pools and changing rooms and a designated spot for stroller parking when you get off the elevator near the family changing room.
Wilson Aquatic Center is open from 6am to 9pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 5pm Saturdays and Sundays. Wilson is less than a block from the Tenleytown Metro on the red line. There is usually plenty of metered parking available on the street, but be sure to read the signs carefully as there are different parking restrictions depending on whether the school adjacent to the pool is in session or not.
Several dining options, including a pizza place, a Mexican restaurant, Panera and Whole Foods, are within two blocks of the pool making it easy to grab a bite to eat before or after swimming.
There have been a couple of times when I arrived at Wilson to find the children’s pool closed for maintenance, lack of lifeguards to staff the pool, or because a child had an accident in the pool. Although this does not happen very often, you should definitely call Wilson at 202-730-0583 in advance to avoid any disappointment.
Photo courtesy of DC.gov