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Where to swim in Oakland this summer

on July 19, 2011

Lake Temescal.

The summer is more than half over, and Ben Sheppard, coach of the Oakland Undercurrent Swim Team, still has parents contacting him to see if summer swim lessons are available. “That’s the funny thing,” Sheppard said. “It’s still not a huge swimming community [in Oakland], so in late July, it finally dawns on them, and it’s like ‘I’ve got to go swimming.’”

The typically foggy East Bay summer days don’t inspire a trip to the pool for most, but for the occasional day the sun does come out, there are still plenty of options to cool off with a dip, swim some laps or sign kids up for swim lessons in Oakland.

“The weather usually tells people that it’s time to swim,” Temescal Pool manager Brian Tang said with a laugh on a bright Monday afternoon, as about 30 people swam laps in the pool behind him.

Here are a couple swimming holes we tracked down:


The City of Oakland operates five pools — Temescal, Fremont, Lions, DeFremery and the recently opened East Oakland Sports Center.

Each pool maintains its own schedule, but every one has lap swimming for ages 14 and up ($5 for adults, $2.25 for seniors); an open swim for all ages ($1 for kids, $3 for adults); swim lessons for kids 18 and under ($30 for most half-hour lessons, four times a week for two weeks); and a Junior Lifeguard training program.

The Aquatic Center at the new East Oakland Sports Center stands apart from the other pools, however, because it’s the only one that also has an indoor water park, complete with a slide, lazy river and play area for kids. Day passes are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for kids and teenagers. Monthly and annual passes are also available.


The East Bay Regional Park District operates two swim areas in Oakland — a pool (Roberts Regional Recreation Area) and the only freshwater lake in the city for swimming (Lake Temescal).

The Roberts pool, on Skyline Boulevard, offers recreational and lap swimming from April 30-September 9. Pool access for recreational swimming is $3 for ages 16-61, $2 for ages 1-15, $2 for seniors and free for kids younger than one year old. Lap swimming is $3.50 for adults.

Lake Temescal was originally built as a storage facility for drinking water, and it opened to the public as one of the district’s original parks in 1936. Swimmers and sunbathers have flocked to its sandy beach and shallow waters ever since. There’s a lane for lap swimming and plenty of space for kids to splash around. The fee is the same as at Roberts, though there is no extra charge for lap swimming.


Lap swimming is available at three college pools in Oakland — Holy Names College (which requires a gym membership), Laney College, and Mills College. Click on a school name to be taken to their websites for more information.


There are a number of pools in Oakland that are only open to members. Here are a few, click on the pool name to be taken to their websites for more information.

The Bellevue Club

Club One, Downtown Oakland

Downtown Oakland YMCA

Highlands Country Club

Montclair Swim Club

Oakland Hills Tennis Club

24-hour Fitness

Any we missed? Fill us in on the comments section, or talk to us on Facebook.



  1. susannah on July 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    The link you posted for the Bellevue Club was a link to some place in Bellevue, Washington.

    • Ryan Phillips on July 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Whoops! Thanks for the catch, it’s fixed now.

  2. Sierra Filucci on July 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    My kids take lessons at Tim Oliver Swimming, which runs out of a pool near Merritt College in the Oakland hills. I’m not sure if the pool ever has open hours, but for kids/adult lessons, it’s a nice option.

  3. Gene on July 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    As a commenter noted when I blogged about Lake Temescal, it’s worth checking the water quality before you go there for swimming. EBRPD closes it to swimming when it’s really bad, but it can be below state health standards and still be open.

  4. SFGlam on July 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    The pool selection in SF unfortunately seems to be better…more indoor pools, and open later. The Temescal Pool, which is the most convenient to me, is only open until 7pm? that doesn’t give me time to get home from work and get over there…I was hoping the Y would have a pool day use pass, but they don’t….

  5. Quynh on July 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Helen’s Happy Swim School operates out of Holy Names University. Excellent facilities and wonderful experienced instructors for your children’s swimming lessons. We’ve been going there for 3 summers.

  6. Jennifer on July 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Now that I have kids I’m becoming a little bit of a pool expert. Only ones that I say are missing but aren’t technically in Oakland but are nearby are; Piedmont Community Pool & UC Strawberry Canyon Pool. Most all have limited after work hours.

  7. Oakland, CA Owl on August 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    The Hills swim club on Skyline has private pools; three of them.

  8. Tom Edwards on December 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Lake merritt is my favorite swimming hole in the Oakland area.

  9. Tim Rood on June 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Piedmont now has a small public pool as well – the City took over the former Piedmont Swim Club one year ago and turned it into a public pool. A variety of individual, family, season and annual passes are available. Drop-in access is limited and pretty expensive. Lessons also available. More info on the City of Piedmont website at

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