Swimply the Best Idea Ever? I Tried the “Airbnb for Pools” (as a Journalist, Of Course)

Swimply pool app

The palm trees rustled in the breeze. The sun’s rays dappled on the pool water. I rested my head against my black sun lounger. This is the life, I thought. My next thought? I hoped the owner of the pool didn’t come out for a chat.

You see, I wasn’t at a public pool — I was parked on a sun lounger in front of a private one. In a stranger’s backyard. I was using Swimply, a platform dubbed the ‘Airbnb for pools’. Like Airbnb, the platform lets hosts set up profiles so they can rent their spaces out to guests for bookings. In this case, they’re hosts of pools, and bookings can be made by the hour.

The pool I was using was $60 an hour, and located in Sydney suburb Matraville, about a 30-minute drive from Bondi, where I live. While I ideally would’ve liked to try a pool closer to home, the platform is still new in Australia — it launched in the US in 2018, but has only been here in Aus since November 2022 — so the listings are still limited.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by sangeeta 🌵 (@sangeetatatiana)

The pool owner did eventually come out to introduce himself. His name was Nigel, and he wanted to check the instructions for how to access the pool had been properly communicated on the pool listing. When I’d first arrived, I’d tried to access the backyard through the left side of the house, when ‘enter via right side’ had clearly been written. Oops!

Nigel had heard me knocking around on the left side of his home and come out to explain I was entering via the wrong gate. I’d been struggling with a full bag of snacks, and my phone tucked between my shoulder and ear, jabbering away, at the time. Presumably, he wanted to let him get myself set up at the pool in peace (not to mention burn with cringe at him finding me ducked under a plant lugging my stuff.

Now, he also told me I was welcome to use the bathroom inside if I needed, which was nice, considering the booking had said it didn’t include access to a bathroom. Something to note if you’re booking for a four-hour period, which I was. (I didn’t end up having to use it).

Related: It’s Check-Out Time for Airbnb Host Assigning Guests Chores

Related: Airbnb for Pools Lets You Rent a Pool In Your Area for a Quick Dip or Pool Party

Swimply pool app
Image: Instagram @sangeetatatiana

If you’re wondering whether the host will come out while you yourself are in the middle of your Swimply session, I’d say no. If I hadn’t made a mess of the entrance instructions, Nigel wouldn’t have had any reason to come out and so probably wouldn’t have.

I do have to mention though, it was quite nerve-wracking walking into someone’s backyard in a suburban area. I kept double-checking the address to make sure I was at the right house as there was no indication there was even a pool in the back, let alone that it was the one I’d rented. If your booking is anything like Nigel’s, there won’t be a key involved with getting access to the pool, so you might feel like you’re trespassing.

Once Nigel had left and I’d rustled around in his backyard barbecue drawers to find a cutting board and knife that I used to set up a cheese platter with supplies I’d gotten from Woollies, I was finally able to relax. And I definitely did! The pool setting was absolutely beautiful, with white stone tiles and the surrounding trees casting shadows on the water.

I swam some laps, but when I got out, realised I’d forgotten my towel. I’d brought to a pool a full cheeseboard, reading and work material, but no towel. Smart. If you’re spending a bit of time at the pool like I did, I’d recommend making a packing list so there’s nothing you forget.

Swimply pool app
Image: Instagram @sangeetatatiana

Luckily, it was a hot day so I quickly dried off. Helpfully, the pool was next to an outdoor lounge that was undercover and that had a power outlet. I settled into a chair, plugged my laptop in and did some work.

When my time was up at 4pm, I collected my belongings and washed up the cheeseboard and knife, along with a wine glass I’d found that I used to drink tap water, in the sink. I thought Nigel might come out again to say bye, but he didn’t, so I ordered my Uber and headed off. At 5pm, I got an email saying my booking had been completed and that I could now leave a review on the property,

Would I use Swimply again? 100%. One of my favourite ways to relax is to hang by a pool, and, not having the luxury of having my own, made it easy to do so. The pool also allowed up to 20 people so, if I’d wanted to relax with friends (note that no drinking is allowed), I could’ve done that too.

While it did feel strange to be letting myself into someone’s backyard, I can imagine that the more you do it, especially if you’re booking at the same pool again and again, the more ‘normal’ it’ll feel. I mean, if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I’d have jumped into a stranger’s car for a ride I ordered on an app, I would’ve laughed at you. Now, we’re all using Uber and laughing at you if you’re still using yellow cabs.

Here’s to hoping Swimply catches on in Australia and that more pools become available in my area. Until then, though, I’m actually considering organising a group to bring back to that Matraville pool. If I got 20 people, for a four-hour booking, it’d be $12 a person, a serious steal.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.