Where to swim in Montreal before June 21

Only one outdoor pool is open prior to the official start of summer, but we want to swim NOW, for FREE. So we checked out five indoor pools, including a couple of hidden gems.

 Piscine Levesque. Photos by Cindy Lopez
Warm weather has set in and Montrealers have become active again, at least between trips to the terrasse. But it’s not technically summer yet, and the city’s outdoor pool season doesn’t begin until the weekend of June 22.

Parc Jean Drapeau’s Aquatic Complex is the only outdoor pool that’s open now, but $7 can be a little steep for someone who just wants to lounge by the poolside. I do it because I’m a lap swimmer — it’s great if you’re working on swim technique or training for a triathlon.

But if you’re looking for an affordable dip without going off the deep end, the city has a rich heritage of free indoor public pools dating back to bath houses built in the 1900s. Whether it’s for active lap swimmer or just for fun, swimming is great exercise, and it’s free. All you really need is a swimsuit, a bathing cap, a towel and a lock.

Here are five indoor pools worth checking out:

Downtown YMCA

1440 Stanley

Most of the Ys have a few free-swimming hours open to the public, but the downtown location (where there are five lap lanes and a hot tub) has the most hours during the week for lane swimming, and on weekends for families. See the details here.

Piscine Schubert
Piscine Schubert

Piscine Schubert

3950 St-Laurent

You would never suspect that there was a pool right in the heart of the Main, but there it is, with its very 1930s interior. Plateau residents fought to save this pool from closing a few years back, so why not make use of it?

Piscine Levesque

955 Marie-Anne E.

Originally a bathhouse, this hidden oasis — tucked away near Parc Lafontaine — has been around since 1908 but was recently renovated. It’s great for either lap swimming or floating on noodles.

Piscine St-Denis
Piscine St-Denis

Piscine St-Denis

7075 St-Hubert

I was surprised to find a pool in the midst of the tackiness of Plaza St-Hubert, but the 1950s decor is somewhat fitting. It was packed for a mid-afternoon swim, being the smallest of the city pools. It’s more of a “just finished work and would like to chill in a pool” kind of pool than for the active swimmer.

Piscine de la Petite-Bourgogne

1825 Notre-Dame W.

This pool, which really stands out on the rapidly gentrifying strip of Notre-Dame Street, is free for nearby residents and members of Centre sportif de la petite bourgogne, and $2 for everyone else. It was pretty active around noon, with solo lap swimmers and a group doing water sit-ups. ■
Find schedules and details about all of the city’s 48 indoor pools here