A whopping 96 percent of Americans don’t have access to a pool. But a new digital platform wants to change that.
Launched in 2018, Swimply is an online marketplace where you can rent a private pool at someone’s house. Think of it as the Airbnb for splishing and splashing, where you can spend the afternoon with your friends lying on a float, practicing your butterfly stroke, or just dipping your toes into the deep end.
Founder Bunim Laskin came up with the idea one summer after watching one of his neighbor’s pools stay rarely used; he ended up renting out the pool in exchange for help paying for its upkeep. After spotting a lot of pools in the area on Google Earth, Laskin decided to scale his business plan, starting with 30 listings, which quickly turned to 400 reservations. Today Swimply operates in the United States, Canada, and Australia via an Android or iPhone app or through its website. There are a range of listings in the Northern Virginia area, with more added every week.
One initial question you might be wondering is, “What happens if I need to use the bathroom?” Well, hosts aren’t obligated to provide bathrooms, though listings clearly state if one is accessible; some are even equipped with showers, changing rooms, or guesthouses. Often, you can also add on the use of a grill, pool toys, and other niceties for a fee. Listings state the maximum number of guests allowed per rental; sometimes you can add more for additional fees. You can also find out whether the water is chlorinated or saltwater, read reviews from previous renters, check availability on the calendar, and find out about details like lighting for night swims, parking availability, whether the locale is sunny or shady, and whether infants, kids, or pets are permitted.
Hosts determine what they do and don’t allow as far as bringing in your own food or alcohol, though many prohibit the latter for safety reasons–the same goes for glass containers, also for obvious reasons. Speaking of liability, hosts do have coverage for injuries and property damage.
But the self-conscious should know before you book that hosts are not expected to leave their homes during your booking. So while they probably won’t be grabbing a lounge chair soaking in the sun along with you, nothing would technically prevent them from peeking out their kitchen windows to critique your cannonball.
Here are a few stellar Swimply listings in the NOVA area:
- Fairfax ($50/hour): 30-foot-by-15-foot heated pool and stone patio with furniture included, a cooler (just bring your own ice), and access to the yard.
- Great Falls ($80/hour): Large, fenced, 10-foot-deep, crystal-clear pool with a diving board. Lots of chairs and an umbrella table to relax in sun or shade.
- Vienna ($60/hour): Heated pool with a large shallow area, built-in stairs, and a loveseat in the deep end. The pool deck features a large seating area, dining area, an outdoor kitchenette and bar with access to a full outdoor bathroom/shower area.
- Centreville ($100/hour): Large pool with deck area and public bathrooms.
- Sterling ($45/hour): 24-foot by 40-foot in-ground pool with basketball hoop and covered patio; kids’ safety pool fence available by request.
- Alexandria ($85/hour): Heated pool and Jacuzzi with access to changing/restroom, covered space, standing heaters, and a waterfall feature.
For more information on reserving a pool or becoming a host, visit Swimply’s website.
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