The best swimming pools in Canberra

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Caroline Luke-Evered, Manuka Pool

Manuka Pool, one of Canberra’s most recommended swimming pools. Picture: Caroline Luke-Evered. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Swimming is an excellent way to maintain fitness, hang out with friends and family, or beat the heat. Whether you’re swimming for health reasons or for fun, it’s important to find a pool where you feel safe and can enjoy your time.

While Canberra is home to a great number of swimming pools, how do you decide which is perfect for you?

In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a swimming pool, and share where to fine the best in Canberra.

What makes a great swimming pool?

Whether for fitness or fun, your time at a swimming pool should be positive. Choosing the right one can make or break your visit so take time to do some research. If you want to swim laps, for example, you’ll want a long pool with lots of lanes. If you’re having fun with the kids, you may be keen on an aquatic or leisure centre with slides, fountains and other features.

It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a swimming pool.

  • Quality hygiene. Great swimming pools maintain water hygiene for the health and safety of patrons. Facilities surrounding pools should also be clean, including bathrooms, change rooms, seating areas, and even the tuck shop.
  • Right temperature. In summer, it’s refreshing to dive into a cold swimming pool. But Canberra isn’t warm all year round, so in cooler weather you’ll a pool with the right temperature for the season.
  • Flexible pricing. Many pools offer money-saving pricing plans so the whole family can get to the pool often, and save money. Look for a pool with a pricing plan that suits your unique needs.
  • Excellent facilities. The best pools have well-equipped change rooms, bathrooms and showers. Some have equipment, like kickboards, for hire. Some offer hot food and drinks for an after-swim pick-me-up. Consider what’s important and look for a facility that matches your needs.
  • Qualified staff. Swimming pools need qualified staff to keep their eyes out for safety reasons. This is especially true if you’re taking little ones to the pool. You’ll also enjoy interacting with staff if they’re friendly.

The best swimming pools in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Canberra Olympic Pool

Canberra Olympic Pool is a community aquatic and recreation centre. As part of YMCA NSW, the Canberra Olympic Pool is about swimming, working out and staying connected. Swimming lessons are available for kids and adults, including both strokes and key lifesaving skills. The 50-meter pool is open at set times for lap swimming.

Rik Baran wrote on Google, “My daughter is taking swimming courses every weekend, and this is a great place to practice. Pleasant staff and professional instructors. Very welcoming.”

Manuka Pool

Built in 1931 and originally named “The Swimming Pool”, the Manuka Pool is housed in a beautiful art deco building and surrounded by lawns and shady trees. It’s a popular place for all ages to swim outdoors during the hotter months. In addition to the main pool, there’s a pool for toddlers and a pirate ship playground.

As Edgar Crook wrote on Google, “Clean and well maintained outdoor 30-metre pool (4-8 foot in depth) … Gardens with a children's shallow playing pool.”

Dickson Aquatic Centre

Since the 1960s Canberrans have been swimming laps and enjoying the facilities at the Dickson Aquatic Centre. This family friendly centre has great community spirit as well as three pools, a splash park, swimming lessons (adults and kids) and a Lap Legends program.

On Google, Debra Giuliano wrote, “Great shade, clean facilities BBQs, showers and loos. Not over-chlorinated water, fun water park, good coffee, friendly staff, plenty of sun safe pool areas for everyone.”

Active Leisure Centre

This health and fitness club features a 50-metre pool, lap lane, swim-school program and a creche. With affordable entry prices and 10-visit swim passes, Active Leisure Centre is open to swimmers of all ages. The pool is available on the hour for 55 minutes. Single entry and 10-swim passes are on offer. Active Leisure Centre also has a high-quality gym activities and programs.

On Google, Anne Maree Crowe wrote, “Love this place. My home-away-from-home.”

AIS Aquatic and Fitness Centre

With state-of-the-art facilities, the AIS Aquatic and Fitness Centre caters to all ages. Fifty-metre and 25-metre indoor heated pools ae available. The centre has a swim school, fitness centre and holiday programs. Pools and lanes can be hired for swimming carnivals, water polo and more.

Adam Stokes wrote on Google, “I've been swimming here for years and like it for the Olympic standard 50-metre pool and 25-metre training pool which is typically quite warm.”

If you’re looking for more activities in Canberra, you might like our articles on the best gyms , the best mini golf courses, the best school holiday programs and the best escape rooms in Canberra.

Or, if you’re interested in getting your own pool, check out our article on the best pool installation companies in Canberra.

Your experience with swimming pools in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback on the best and worst Canberra swimming pools. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the swimming pools listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all pools in Canberra open to the public?

Not all pools in Canberra are open to the public. Some are private and you need to be a member to access them. This could include, for example, a pool that’s attached to a privately run gym.

Are all pools in Canberra open all year round?

Some pools are open all year round and some aren’t. It’s best to check online to see when the pool you choose is open. In Canberra, indoor pools tend to be open all year round, but outdoor pools tend to be closed during the coldest months.

How much does it cost to use a public pool?

The cost for using a public pool varies so it’s best to check before heading out. Prices vary depending on usage too. Some pools have packages for multiple visits. Some have different price points for children and adults.

How many ACT Government pools are there?

The ACT Government is responsible for overseeing the contract management of five Canberra swimming pools. Canberra Olympic Pool in Civic, Lakeside Leisure Centre in Tuggeranong, Gungahlin Leisure Centre and Active Leisure Centre offer a range of indoor facilities all year round. While Dickson Pool and Manuka Pool are entirely outdoor facilities operating only in summer.

Do all pools have swimming (lap) lanes?

It’s best to check with the pool you want to go to. Some pools have swimming lanes and some don’t. Some have designated times to use lap lanes.

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