Spend a lot of time with kids and you will learn some pretty odd things. You get to know where almost all public washrooms are and develop a spider sense for where public washrooms ought to be. You also become somewhat of a connoisseur of playgrounds.
Part of almost every playground is a set of swings. The variety of swing sets that you see is quite striking. To be clear, while I may find the swings by taking my kids there, I am not rating them on a basis of what a child would like. This discussion is based completely on the kind of swing that I like to use.
|Oaklands Park swings|
The two main parts of a swing set that lead to its rating, first is the seat. Is it a solid piece of plastic, a soft piece of rubber or if you happen to fall back in time, made of fabric? The second main aspect is the chain length. The longer the better. There are other things to consider like maintenance (No one wants a squeaky swing) and the surface material under the swing, but that really comes down to a minor preference and has no real impact on the actual swing experience. For the record though, I prefer a light dry sand to bark mulch and both are far superior to a rubber mat.
So what kind of swing sets sit at the bottom? Here are two examples. The first is Oaklands Park, this set is hampered by two factors. First you have a hard plastic seat and second the chain length is maybe six or seven feet. Good for a kid in a pinch, but you are not going to see me even try one of these.
The second one is at a secret park which is seriously tucked away, This place has decent seats but the chain length is almost comical. Why the city has put these swings in either of these locations is a mystery to me. They are just not fun at all.
|Secret Park swings|
Your mid range swing set can be found at almost any park. These are the swings that you remember from your school days. Pretty good swing length, usually a rubber seat and the ground is almost always sand.
For the best swings in the city you need to head over to Esquimalt. The Gorge Kinsmen Park on Tillicum Road is one of the most picturesque parks in the whole region. It has a beautiful waterside walk, a Japanese garden, a nature centre and a decent sized playground. Along the water in the playground, sit one of the most impressive swing sets I have ever seen (see inset map picture below). The chain length is massive and when you start swinging you start to get that tummy tingle like you are on a roller coaster. The ride makes it number one all on its own, add in the stunning view and the beautiful park landscape and it would be difficult for any other park to unseat this amazing swing set.
If you can think of another set that can rival this one, I would love to know!