The Palm Springs Swim Center is open to out-of-towners for a higher fee than locals. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I have plied the same waters as long distance, open water swimmer Diana Nyad.

Don’t be silly, not the shark infested, jelly-fish stinging waters of the Caribbean. Well, I have swam in the Caribbean, but that’s not what this is about.

Oh, and if you don’t know who Nyad is, I highly recommend the movie by the same name that came out on Netflix late last year about the swimmer.

In 2013, at age 64-year-old Nyad became the first person to complete the 110-mile open-water swim between Cuba and Florida. This was her fifth attempt, with the first one being in 1978.

The waters we have shared are those at the Palm Springs Swim Center.

In February 2022, she was at the city pool training for a charity event for Hurricane Sandy victims. She swam 24 continuous hours in the desert waters. An interesting thing is that local swimmers took turns swimming laps in the lane next to her.

OK, so I wasn’t actually in the pool with her then.

I was in the Palm Springs pool for the first time last month. It’s great. That’s partly why I’m writing this.

It is all about lap swimming, with a few hours reserved for water aerobics. Ten of the 22 lanes have starting blocks—which is what you dive off of in competition. The length is 25 yards. It’s possible to change the lane configuration to go length-wise; then the pool becomes 50 meters. This is the standard length for Olympic competition.

I competed in swimming when I was a kid—in AAU, which might mean something to someone. Every weekend it seemed like I was at a swim meet. I wasn’t all that great, but it was fun. And to this day I enjoy swimming laps; I just don’t often have the opportunity.

My home pool in the Bay Area was the Concord Community Pool. It was configured differently, but also had the 25-yard and 50-meter lanes. It’s a lot harder to swim 50 meters—not just because it’s more than twice the distance. Not having the wall to turn around on is huge.

I could never be an open swimmer like Nyad—for a lot of reasons. For one, on my Palm Springs swim I was finished after 60 laps. Still, it’s fun to know we have shared the same water.

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