Desperately Seeking Summer: Winter Swimming Options in Upstate New York


The winter months in the Capital Region of New York – and upstate New York in general – can drag on and on, seemingly punctuated only by bouts of snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, and gray, overcast skies. If you are tiring of the monotony of Mother Nature’s winter repertoire and are craving summertime pursuits, take heart! Just grab a towel and your swimsuit and head to any of the indoor pools and water parks listed below. The list is just a sampling of the many programs available, so don’t hesitate to do your own research – and keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to reach out directly to the venue to confirm hours, admission fees, etc.  There’s a swim program for everyone, whether you’re interested in lap or family swim sessions, aquatic workouts, the entertainment features of a water park, triathlon training, or swimming/diving lessons for you or your child.

If you’re looking for a swimming adventure with all the excitement of an amusement park, consider visiting one of the family-friendly water parks in the Capital Region or beyond:

  • The expansive aquatic center at the Rudy A. Ciccotti Family Recreation Center in Albany, NY, offers a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool for fitness swimming and aquatic classes, swimming lessons for all ages and abilities, and a waterpark that features a leisure pool, lazy river, shallow-water splash pad and fountains, and a 20-foot flume slide. If you are not a member, a day pass is $20 per person and includes access to all of the facility’s programs, including aquatics. Certified lifeguards are always on duty, but for added safety, the center requires that children younger than 9 be accompanied by a parent in the water and those 9 to 11 have a parent watching them from the pool deck (if not in the water). Children 12 and older do not require parental supervision while in the water.
Photo courtesy of the Rudy A. Ciccotti Family Recreation Center
  • Six Flags Great Escape Indoor Water Park, located in Queensbury, NY, is a 32,000-square-foot facility with a host of attractions, including two 41-foot-high water slides, a lazy river, boogie board surf area, warm water spa, interactive tree house suitable for younger children, and a four-person simulated whitewater raft ride.
  • Further west in the Finger Lakes area is Cascades Indoor Water Park, located at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland, NY. The park features four three-story water slides, a whitewater wave pool and 13-foot waterfall, an interactive play structure for small children, a wading pool, a 1,000-square-foot pool with two themed basketball hoops, and a heated outdoor pool that is open year-round.

Many area schools, colleges, and universities reserve pool time for use by members of the community, often at no or minimal charge. Among them are the following:

Local School District Programs

    • The Ballston Spa High School pool is open to the public for lap swimming early on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and during evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those eligible include district students, families, and community members, residents and non-residents alike. District residents are charged an entrance fee of $1; non-residents must pay $2 per visit. Family swim sessions are also available on Saturdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. when school is in session. In addition, for an extra fee, adults can register for aquatic cardio strengthening classes, held Monday and Wednesday evenings.
    • Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools offers a community swim program for both residents and non-residents during the fall, winter, and spring semesters. The program includes lap swim opportunities for a fee of $2 per day or $50 per session, as well as three eight-week learn-to-swim programs for children on Saturday mornings.
    • Free family and lap swimming is available to the public at Johnstown High School on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m.
    • The Mohonasen Central School District’s swimming pool is open to swimmers of all levels from the community. The district offers lap swimming, aqua fitness classes, open swim sessions for families, and youth swim lessons (for grades K through 8) through its continuing education and summer enrichment programs.
    • Myers Middle School in Albany offers free community swimming two evenings a week when school is in session. Monday swim sessions, from 6 to 8 p.m., are reserved for seniors 50 and older. On Wednesdays, from 6 to 8 p.m., the pool is earmarked for family swimming. Those younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
    • Niskayuna High School has an eight-lane swimming pool that is open to the community and features a pool entry area that is handicapped-accessible. Lap swim hours are available Monday through Friday, whereas open swim hours are earmarked for the weekends. If you are a frequent user of the facility, an annual community membership (available to both residents and non-residents) may be the most cost-effective approach. For more occasional use, a daily pass can be purchased for either $3 or $6, depending on your residency status.
    • Voorheesville High School holds open swim sessions Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. The fee is $1 for students and senior citizens and $2 for adults. The school also offers learn-to-swim classes periodically.

Colleges and Universities

    • Community and alumni gym/pool memberships are available (for a fee) at the Marcelle Athletic Complex at Siena College, which includes an eight-lane, 25-yard pool, as well as at The University at Albany, which features a six-lane pool suitable for lap swimming, triathlon training, therapeutic swimming, or aqua jogging.
    • The College of St. Rose in Albany is home to one of the year-round, weekend, learn-too-swim programs offered by Excel Aquatics. (The other location for the program is the Sunnyview Lifestyle Wellness Center in Schenectady.) Lessons are 30 minutes in length and taught in small classes of up to four children of varying skill levels.

In many regions of upstate New York, community centers and fitness facilities offer a variety of swim programs. The following are some examples of programs that serve local residents.

  • The Albany Jewish Community Center has both an indoor pool and two outdoor seasonal pools. The facility has developed a variety of swim programs, including swimming lessons and water exercise classes for all ages, infant to adult, as well as a competitive youth swim team. The center also offers scuba diving lessons, water polo, and an aquatics boot camp for those looking to expand their fitness routine.
  • The Capital District YMCA has a comprehensive aquatics program that includes swim lessons, lifeguard and water safety training, and swim teams for various ages. Residents can access these programs by purchasing a swim pass, or if you want to take advantage of all the classes and programs the YMCA offers, you can become a full member.
  • The Cohoes Community Center’s Olympic-size pool offers lap and open swimming, aquatic aerobics, aqua jogging, and swim lessons. Memberships for three, six, or 12 months are available to Cohoes residents and non-residents alike, but are not a requirement for use of the facility.
  • The Sunnyview Lifestyle Wellness Center is a comprehensive fitness center that includes an aquatic program housed in a pool that is fully accessible to those with physical limitations. The facility, located in Schenectady, is open to the public at various times every day of the week. The admission fee varies depending on frequency of use and the programs in which you are interested. Open swimming sessions and group classes are available, and you can also schedule an appointment with a personal trainer.
  • Members of Vent Fitness in Guilderland can enjoy a full range of water-based activities, including aqua full-body workouts, water Zumba, lap swimming, and swim lessons for all levels and ages. Free 17-day trial memberships are available.

As you can see from the variety of aquatics programs and activities available, if swimming is your passion, there’s no reason to interrupt your fun and fitness routine during the winter months. Dive right in and find yourself a program that meets your needs and/or those of your family!

Photos courtesy of Capital District YMCA


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