Top Five Lap Pools for Business Travelers

Courtesy: Jonathan Friend

For swimmers traveling on business, finding quality street lane space is easier said than done. When you arrive in a new city, enthusiasts must sift through Web sites and decipher PDF pool schedules to discover possible options. For every welcoming JCC or YMCA, there’s a beautiful university pool closed off to the outside world or, worse, a health club that advertises having a lap pool just to come and learn. -an that it is 20 yards long.

Nearly two decades of business travel have led me to curate a list of the top five pools for business travelers. This is not a ranking stack of the best, most beautiful facilities. It’s just a stack ranking of the most convenient amenities for business travelers in typical business travel markets.

Each facility is rated using a five-star scale (1 = worst, 5 = best) based on three factors. The total score is the average of the three ratings:

  1. Pool quality – A 50-meter, deep water competition pool is better than a shallow, four-lane, 25-yard tank with a bathtub of warm water.
  2. facility quality – Cleanliness is important and it’s nice to find a nice locker room with showers.
  3. Close to the airport – The proximity to the airport gives business travelers a practical option during flight delays or a stopover on the way in or out of town.

#5 (MCO) Orlando International Airport

Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center 8422 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

  • Quality of facility – ★★★
  • Pool quality – ★★★★
  • Close to the airport – ★
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Built in 1992, it is a high quality 50M indoor pool and great diving with a retro feel. During its time, this facility hosted national level meets and offered a lot of space in deep water. Admittedly, this location is not close to the MCO (travel time ~30 minutes), which hurts the overall stars. That said, given the majority of business travel to Orlando takes you to I-Drive for trade shows, it’s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​———-.

#4 – DTW – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Romulus Athletic Center 35765 Northline Road Romulus, MI 48174

  • Quality of facility – ★★
  • Pool quality – ★★½
  • Close to the airport – ★★★★★

If this facility were closer to DTW, it would literally sit on the runway. So close to DTW you can hear the hum of planes taking off as you stare at the black line at the bottom of the pool. The site has a dedicated four-lane lap pool and a well-equipped gym for dry land work. With Detroit being a Delta hub, keep this in mind if you’re stuck for a few hours.

#3 – SAN – San Diego International Airport

Mission Valley YMCA 5505 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92110

  • Quality of facility – ★★★
  • Pool quality – ★★★
  • Close to airport – ★★★★½

San Diego is an amazing city for traveling lap swimmers – so many options! For the rankings we chose the facility closest to the airport – Mission Valley YMCA. This facility has covered and outdoor pools, both with plenty of lap time.

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Other lap swimming options in San Diego that are convenient for business travel include The Plunge and Coronado Aquatic Center, the current training base for Michael Andrew.

#2 – CLT – Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center (MCAC) 800 E MLK Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202

  • Quality of facility – ★★★★
  • Pool quality – ★★★★½
  • Close to the airport – ★★★½

This facility has a considerable amount of swimming history. Before the TYR Pro Swim series was a thing, the MCAC and SwimMAC Carolina hosted the Charlotte Ultra Swim. In the mid to late 90’s, this meet was the premier Olympic Trials warm up meet for the biggest names in the sport. Even better, with several time standards, club swimmers can track down local legend Mel Stewart for an autograph or hang out in the warm pool with plenty of time hoping that will share the space with Summer Sanders.

This is a beautiful (recently renovated) 50-meter facility with plenty of open lap swimming time. Deducts points for being 14 minutes from the CLT airport, but very convenient for business travelers staying in Uptown.

#1 – DCA – Washington Regan International Airport

Long Bridge Aquatic & Fitness Center 333 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington, VA 22202

  • Quality of facility – ★★★★★
  • Pool quality – ★★★★★
  • Close to the airport – ★★★★★
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This facility is the standard by which all other pools must be judged. Opening in 2021, the city of Arlington partnered with Boeing to create this $60M gem. There is a 50M competition pool suitable for national level competition with a completely separate pool with a water play area and six additional lap lanes. If you’re heading to DCA from Northern VA or Washington, DC, or even staying in town for a meeting, it’s super convenient. Admission for non-residents is also affordable.

What did I miss? Here are some major airports where I have yet to find the right pool. Help me! ATL, LGA, ORD, IAH, MIA.

The rankings….

Airport code facilities Facility Quality Pool Quality Close to the Airport Total Score
DCA Long Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 5.0★
CLT Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center ★★★★ ★★★★½ ★★★½ 4.0★
San Mission YMCA ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★½ 3.5★
DTW Romulus Athletic Center ★★½ ★★½ ★★★★★ 3.3★
MCO Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center ★★★ ★★★★ 2.7★

COME JONATHAN FRIEND

Jonathan Friend is a guest author for SwimSwam. Professionally, Jonathan leads commercial organizations in the US and Canada for a medical diagnostics company. He swam in college at Ohio University and is still active in swimming through his work on the board for the Cincinnati Marlins.



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