#Gauteng52, Week 39: Zoo Lake Swimming Pool

by | Sep 27, 2017 | #Gauteng52, Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 4 comments

Welcome to Week 39 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Zoo Lake Swimming Pool.

Some artist/blogger friends of mine have an ongoing collaborative project called #20Laps, for which they visit and document different swimming pools around Johannesburg. Alex swims 20 laps at each pool. Gail takes pictures. Fiver makes sketches. Ang writes blog posts.

When I can, I tag along and do some (or none) of the above.

Heather diving into the poolMe diving into a pool. (Photo: Gail Wilson)

Johannesburg has a vibrant public pool culture, which probably has something to do with the city’s amazing weather. Joburg pools open for the summer on 1 September and don’t close for the winter until April or May. (The Linden Pool is indoors and open year-round.) The pools have relatively low admission fees — around R10, or under a dollar — and tend to be well maintained, even in parts of town that have declined socioeconomically in recent decades. Some of the pools are even heated.

Two weeks ago the #20Laps gang visited the Zoo Lake Swimming Pool, which has been on my #Gauteng52 hit list all year.

Zoo Lake Swimming Pool entranceThe retro entrance to Zoo Lake Swimming Bath (Pool), spelled out in English and Afrikaans.

My First Visit to the Zoo Lake Swimming Pool

The Zoo Lake pool is iconic, both for its appearance and its location in one of Joburg’s most popular public parks. The pool is huge and beautifully designed — it’s a square, which I found interesting — and spotlessly clean.

Wide shot of the Zoo Lake PoolWe visited Zoo Lake pool just a week or two after opening and the water was chilly, so only a few people were venturing in. In a month or two I imagine it will be packed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Cool guys at the poolCool guys.

Cool girls at the poolCool girls.

I arrived before my friends did, and settled on my towel in the grassy area next to the pool.

Which brings me to my main piece of advice for Zoo Lake pool-goers: Bring a lawn chair and make sure all your food is in airtight containers. The grass is crawling with ants. Although they are tiny, non-biting ants, they were all over my legs within seconds.

When the ants began invading my camera bag I finally surrendered and resettled on the wide concrete steps around the pool, which are also quite comfortable.

Ice cream seller at Zoo Lake poolA vendor selling ice cream from the cooler on the back of his ancient bicycle. These cycling vendors are Joburg icons in their own right.

Gail with popsicle Pink hair, pink popsicle.

Other than the ants I have zero complaints about Zoo Lake pool. (Oh, actually I have one more: I wish there were a diving board but I don’t think diving boards are a thing at public pools anymore.) I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time there, swimming (briefly because the water was cold), soaking up the early summer afternoon sun, chatting with my friends, and shooting the occasional picture.

I didn’t want to leave.

Diving into Zoo Lake poolHead first.

Little kids on towel at the poolThis was me, 35 years ago.

Little boy learning to swimThis might have been this boy’s first time ever in a pool. He looked so excited and scared all at once, his little head smeared with sunblock.

Swimming pool selfies Swimming pool selfies.

Little girl in a face dress at Zoo Lake Swimming PoolOverdressed at the pool.

The Zoo Lake Swimming Pool is at 57 Lower Park Drive, corner of Westwold Way, at the northern end of the Zoo Lake park. The pool is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Kids at the poolRead more about the #20Laps project on Jozi.Rediscovered.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.


  1. Gail Scott Wilson

    I agree I too did not want to leave. Yes I also wonder about the diving boards as the Ellis Park one they too have been removed. We have only seen one so far and that was at the Sandringham pool.

    • 2summers

      I guess they’re considered too dangerous now?

  2. Zanelemafaka68@gmail.com

    Can i bring my daughter to celebrate her birthday with her friends there ?

    • 2summers

      I’m not sure what the rules are on that, but if it’s a small gathering I’m sure it would be fine. I think most of the Joburg pools close at the end of March though.


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