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Warm up with a free dip in this naturally heated, outdoor swimming pool

Pam LeBlanc

Have you stepped outside today? Perfect swimming weather.

I know it sounds crazy, but I love to swim in the winter, when cold snaps turn outdoor swimming pools into cozy, steam-emitting ponds, and swimming laps feels like snuggling under a warm blanket.

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No, I’m not talking about Barton Springs here, although I’ve been known to strip off my wooly mammoth deck jacket and dive into that spring-fed wonder even when temperatures fall to the 40s or 30s. (Just remember, the air temperature is colder than the water temperature, so it’s not as shocking as it sounds. And water temperatures at Barton Springs hover around 70 or 71 degrees year round.)

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Today I’m advocating a dip at Big Stacy Pool, 700 Live Oak Street. The pool, with its mix of tap water and water naturally heated through underground springs, steams like soup during the winter months. The old-school vibe will soothe your soul, too.

The pool closes if temperatures fall below freezing. Otherwise, hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. weekends.

If you’re prone to chills, pack a Thermos full of hot tea or coffee, or plan on a post-swim visit to nearby Magnolia Cafe for pancakes.

Entry is free. For more information call 512-445-0304.