from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
Looking for a cool, watery oasis to escape the summer heat? How about snapping out a few laps after a steamy day at the office? Or maybe you’d simply like to see one of the best views in Seattle.
There’s a swimming hole right here in West Seattle that’s just as scenic as a dip the Sound but considerably warmer.
Dive into Colman Pool.
A strikingly unique place to splash around, the huge, heated pool contains 450,000 gallons of saltwater pulled straight from Puget Sound and maintained at a comfortable 82 degrees F.
Whether you’re 7 or 77, this 50-meter mecca for water sports is the perfect place to work out or play all summer long. Colman offers pool parties, recreational public swims, fun family swims, invigorating lap swims (with fast, medium, and easy lane options), coached masters workouts, kickboards, water noodles, high and low dives, and a wild ride on the corkscrew slide.
Because Colman Pool is located on the “point” at Lincoln Park, getting there is half the fun. If you live close, try biking. Or bring your trail shoes and walk through the park, picnicking along the way. If it’s your first time, make a day of it.
“Colman is one of Seattle’s best kept secrets,” says second-generation pool operator Mark Sears. “Every day I hear people say ‘this is great and I didn’t even know it was here.’ But it’s been here for quite some time.”
The pool is also soaked in history. Just step inside and you’ll notice the historical “Youth and Freedom” mural depicting the Colman legacy. The piece was painted by renowned muralist Ernest Norling (who also did an oil painting selected to hang in the White House).
“Every image in the mural has something to do with the Colman family and this community,” says Sears. The Colmans were paramount in starting the Fauntleroy Church and YMCA. “And these were during the times when you had to take a boat to get to West Seattle,” he adds.
Ken Colman built the pool and donated it to the city as a memorial to his father Laurence. “I knew Ken Colman and his intention was to create an active outlet for youth,” explains Sears. “He saw what he could do with this place – he designed, engineered, and built it, then handed it to the city as a gift. It’s our responsibility to continue his vision.”
Striving to do just that, Sears is only the second operator in the pool’s history. The first operator was his dad Norman, who was hired by Ken Colman in 1941. Before starting at Colman Pool, Norman Sears ran Alki’s bathing suit rentals and steam laundry services. He held the coveted steam engineer’s license that was necessary to run the boilers for the new heated pool.
A historic landmark. An amazing exercise venue. And the scenery? Second to none. Locals say the only problem with Colman is that summer’s too short. But West Seattleites will have to take that one up with Mother Nature.
What: Outdoor swimming at Colman Pool
Where: The point at Lincoln Park
When: Preseason weekend-only operations usually start around Memorial Day; the postseason can stretch partway into September
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