Like a birder with a life list, I’ve kept a growing catalogue of great places I’ve swum. My crossing of the Hellespont last summer for my book, Swim: Why We Love the Water, currently ranks as my favorite open-water venue. But I’ve also relished the stunning pools of the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, the Ritz in Paris, and the Four Seasons Bosphorus in Istanbul. I’ve swum in the clear sea off a black volcanic beach in Greece, a stream-fed pond in the mountains of northern Kenya, and the cool aquamarine of a pool in the Australian desert. I’ve shared the sea with flabby Soviet matrons in Crimea and alternated lanes with perfectly molded starlets in Beverly Hills. At a beach resort on Ko Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, I had my choice of an infinity-edge pool with fresh water, a free-form version with salt water, and the gorgeous gulf itself. And then there was the so-called Nylon Pool in Tobago—an impossibly perfect turquoise with the softest water in which I’ve ever been submerged.
So what’s left? Plenty. My criteria are simple: the water has to be clean, safe, warm (OK, warmish), and pleasing enough to my eye to allow for solitary fantasy or goggle-eyed sightseeing. And while I’m open to suggestions for my next wild water adventure, here are some of the tamer watering holes—open and enclosed—that get my arms and legs twitching.
By Lynn Sherr