Haarlem’s outdoor swimming pool that’s also a national monument

Zwembad de Houtvaart is a treat for swimmers on many levels, thanks to its architecture, history and the fact you can splash around in the open air, come rain or ’shine!

During the summer days, what a better treat than to go for a dip in Haarlem’s historic outdoor swimming pool. We were all very pleased when it was announced that De Houtvaart was opening its doors for customers again – as of 1 July – and you can enjoy the facilities as long as you reserve your session online and follow the measures that are currently in place.

Architecture and history

Built in 1927, Haarlem’s only heated open-air swimming pool has been enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike, as well as Olympic athletes. When the 1928 Olympic Games were held in Amsterdam, a number of the swimmers trained there. Rumour has it – or at least the history section of the pool’s website tells us – that one such American swimmer was Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to win medals and would also go on to star as Tarzan in the films from the 1930s and 1940s.

The pool has came up against some hard times over the years. That’s why we are so grateful that the ‘Vrienden van de Houtvaart’ came along when they did – a group of locals with a shared appreciation for the swimming spot who joined forces in 1991, and by 1999 the building had become a national heritage building (Rijksmonument).

Zwembad de Houtvaart

Becoming a friend of de Houtvaart

Now, anyone can become a ‘Friend of de Houtvaart’ for a small fee every year, which brings with it some perks and lots of satisfaction to feel you are supporting this monument and showing your appreciation along with other like-minded individuals to support de Houtvaart for its architecture, heritage and simply being able to swim in such a lovely outdoor spot. Thanks to loyal volunteers, this means that ‘friends’ can swim outside the regular opening times (for the early morning ‘friend hour’). Until recently, it was thought this would not be possible at the moment but it was just announced that, from 15 July, the pool would be open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings between 07:00 and 08:00 until the end of the season and this is when the pool is only open to its ‘friend members’. Find out more here.

Visiting de Houtvaart this summer

If you want to make a trip to de Houtvaart this summer as a regular swimmer, then you must reserve your place online via the SRO website (link below) and be sure to follow the regulations. This means the café is not open and you will not be able to use all the facilities. For instance, you will be able to pop in for a swim within your time slot and then you’ll need to head home for a shower. Watch the video below for more information. The pool is open for lane swimming (45 minute sessions) on weekdays 08:00 to 19:00 and weekends 08:00 to 13:00, and for recreational swimming (105 minute sessions) on weekdays and weekends from 13:00 to 17:00.



Discover ‘Association of the Friends of Houtvaart’ at: houtvaart.nl

Book your swimming sessions at: sro.nl/zwembad-de-houtvaart

Zwembad de Houtvaart
Piet Heinstraat 12
2014 AT Haarlem

[Main photo by Daviddje; source]

Carmel McNamara