After Swim Week, Here Are The Worst Pools in Miami Beach

Jul 24, 2013


“Pools are such a potent symbol in the Florida dreamscape,” explains Florida International University anthropologist Laura Ogden.

The idea of Miami as an otherworldly dreamscape is what makes it the perfect setting for recently wrapped Mercedes-Benz Fashion Swim Week 2013. Most of the high-end hotels on South Beach give their clientele a long whiff of sex and money; it’s basically Art Basel, except instead of contemporary art, the commodity is perfect skin.

But the premise, or at least one of them, is ostensibly sitting by the pool. And a fancy one, whilst looking fancy yourself. 

Model Rebekah Keida, who took part in several Swim Week events says culture by a Miami pool, "is all about high heels and skimpy outfits. Lots of flowing silk and colors--definitely fake boobs in the mix. It's the time for hot girls in Miami to display all of their hard work."  

There are plenty of breathtaking pools on South Beach – The Delano, The Setai, The Fontainebleau to name a few – but as Swim Week comes to a close, it seems appropriate to point out some of the places that rail thin  models will most likely not be found.

Most pools found in Miami Beach do not have ripped male models and moneyed oligarchs surrounding each side where the water comes perfectly and effortlessly up to the edge.

Frank Carmona, general manager of All Florida Pool, has been servicing swimming pools all across Miami Dade, including Miami Beach, for 30 years. He says the process is focused on removing debris and helping the chemicals move through the pump as well as monitoring pH, alkalinity, chlorine and calcium levels. This is the man who keeps the beautiful people in beautiful pools.

Sometimes South Florida pools, particularly at foreclosed homes, can sit and fester, growing all sorts of weird bacteria. According to Carmona, it’s now actually illegal to let your pool sit and fester. However, if you’re broke, you’re broke. And disuse for a pool can be lead to disgusting circumstances.

As for how many swimming pools might be wrought with problems in Miami and Miami Beach, Carmona says, “there’s just too many to tell,” and he goes on to say that they get, “stagnant, smelly, insects, animals, but it happens, you know.”

Professor Ogden also mentions pools as, “an indictor of the collapse of the real estate market.” We’ve seen this problem before, and an article from Conservation Magazine shows the dangers of letting a pool sit for too long due to foreclosure. The housing crisis caused a lot of high-end homes to sit vacant and as Carmona suggests, some of them still remain in various states of dilapidation.

We took it upon ourselves to try to scratch the surface of the worst pools in Miami Beach. Since most of festering pools are on private property, we didn’t come across any that were rotten, but we did come across some that were very strange, which serve as a foil to those of the Swim Week environment of beautiful and high landscape design. 

Credit Nathaniel Sandler

The investigation started with my pool, which is constantly conveys the screechy sounds and rancid smells of Dade Avenue in addition a mediocre view of whatever niche crowd is pouring out of the Convention Center. I won’t tell you exactly where I live, but this thing is small. Thankfully you can’t see the Holocaust Memorial to make your swim more depressing, but as a consolation, when I went down to take this picture there were two cigarette butts floating in the deep end.

Lincoln Lane, or the area in between the west end of Lincoln Road and the canal, is a treasury of hilariously bad pools. These are basically water coffins. A tall man can barely do a lap without slamming his forearm on consistently other side. One of them is just a wet triangle. Another has two toilets staring out on the pool, one door was just propped open and the other was only half of a door. These are the less glitzy pools that citizens of Miami Beach swim in.

Credit Nathaniel Sandler

“Everybody has an interesting story to tell,” Carmona states referring to his on-site staff at All Florida Pool. It's a statement that could apply to each and every pool, though the stories don’t stop at the pools themselves. As Carmona notes, “you do walk in on a lot of strange things.” Carmona declined to elaborate on what those strange things were for obvious reasons, but he did say that a lot of the technicians share stories and laughs over what the rest of us can only imagine.

Miami is a weird place, and a lot of weird people do things at their pools. 

Miami’s pools are indeed a potent symbol of our landscape, and in the wake of Swim Week 2013, it’s worth remembering that there are many different faces that our pools can take, some disgusting, some small and some just plain bizarre. For better or worse and alongside all of the models, they make up our tropical community. 

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Additional reporting provided by Ben Potts