Swimply lets you rent backyard pools in Seattle
If I remember my poorly spent youth correctly, breaking into a neighbor’s pool causes “you are grounded” problems. But yesterday’s juvenile delinquency is today’s business model, thanks to Swimply. Everyone calls the website the Airbnb of Pools, launched in 2018 and first imagined by, naturally, a student. Swimply, quite simply, they are personal pools rented by the hour.
In the middle of the current Hot (to the) Max Summer from Seattle, I created an account. Unsurprisingly, the site’s default geographic selection, Los Angeles, overshadows offerings in King County – and the buggy website insists on resetting that default with every search. Way to rub it, California.
Of the 10 local options, only one is within Seattle city limits and this tenant stopped taking reservations in June. Another, in Burien, charges an additional $ 30 for the use of the hot tub, a problem for my back pain, distorted by the work-from-home setups and stress of the Delta variant.
After an endless back and forth of emails – the platform’s booking calendars clearly need a bit of work – I booked a Bothell backyard for an hour at noon to the tune of $ 110 including costs. Because the address only appears after confirmation, I had already made a commitment when I learned the house was much further north than expected, near Mill Creek. Thanks to the traffic, I would spend twice as much time driving than paddling.
The upside: The pool was even nicer than in the photos, and the owner, Kirsten, greeted me with an ease that relieved my intense awkwardness. She explained to me that the swimming pool, hot tub, cooler filled with ice water, and air-conditioned pool house were all at my disposal, including an indoor shower that had to have a head at least a foot in diameter. Kirsten also highlighted the best adult floatie (she was right).
The downside: Her kids had turned up the pool heat settings, leaving the temperature so hot it “will look like a bath“. She offered to let me come back another day, but I couldn’t handle a second 30-minute drive; I can’t say she didn’t warn me.
Floating under towering cedars, the waterfall between the hot tub and the pool helped muffle any household noise, and I quickly accepted the weirdness of hanging out in someone else’s backyard. An immaculate putting green adjoins the pool. Kirsten’s husband is a landscape architect, so the entire property serves as a sort of showroom for his business, a miniature seaside resort in a rural neighborhood.
Drifting to the top of a floatie solo felt decadent, as if I had tagged a wealthy friend who loved to share. Kirsten’s inconspicuous display of the rules (“water gushing… must be strictly prohibited”) kept the vibrations of the community pool at bay. If the water temperature had been closer to crisp than comfortable, the hour would have been the perfect break from my sweaty week in the city.
In terms of price, Swimply sits somewhere between one of Seattle City Parks’ 10 facilities – $ 6.25 for adults – and joins a private venue like the Olympic Athletic Club, where I was offered a membership. $ 80 per month for unlimited use. Scoring a true overnight Airbnb with pool is always an option, but few rentals near Seattle have their own pools. If I had brought the three authorized friends within my $ 110 hour, Swimply might be considered a deal.
John Cheever’s famous 1964 short story “The Swimmer” follows an upper-class man who decides to swim across town connecting his neighbors’ backyard pools. His lark turns surreal as he flips through their cocktails in a swimsuit, accepting gin and tonics before diving for a ride and heading barefoot to the house next door. Seattle’s anemic personal pool stock could never endure a swim in the city, but Swimply’s model borrows the same cheerful understanding of Cheever’s story from our crime-hungry teens: if you are beautiful let’s not use that pool, we might as well jump in.