MAKING A SPLASH

Dive into Houston's highly anticipated pool bar, now open near downtown

A look at El Segundo's pool and cabanas. Courtesy of gin design group

The artlicle originally appeared on CultureMap.

When Houston's weather turns from regular "hot" to full on "blast furnace," finding a pool to cool off can be about the only way anyone can maintain their sanity. While they're easy to find in the suburbs, apartment dwellers in the city's urban core start contemplating extreme measures in the quest for relief — for example, booking an expensive spa treatment at the Marriott Marquis just to float the Texas-shaped lazy river.

A newly opened bar wants to change that. The El Segundo Swim Club is the pool bar that's ready to offer Houstonians a place to relax and cool off. Located in the Second Ward near the corner of Navigation and Lockwood, the property features a 1,300-square foot swimming pool as well as cabanas and lounge chairs — everything a person needs for a little fun in the sun. A high fence around the bar ensures that patrons aren't subject to prying eyes from passersby. 

Owner Matthew Healey originally built the pool as a place for him and his friends to hang out, but he saw the potential for others to enjoy it. To realize his vision, he turned to local designer Gin Braverman of gin design group, the acclaimed local design firm behind a number of bars and restaurants including Axelrad, Public Services Wine & Whisky, and Goode Company Kitchen & Cantina. Braverman's design takes its inspiration from the work of Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape artist known for his innovative public spaces; the project seeks to channel a little of a Rio in the '70s vibe.

“We want to create something fun and unpretentious,” Healey said when he announced the project in February. “We’re creating a little oasis just off the beaten path. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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10th-ranked UH looks poised for a great season

Here's why UH could make a deep tournament run

The Coogs are off to a hot start. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Through eleven COVID stricken weeks, the University of Houston football team has mustered three wins.

The UH men's basketball season began on November 25th. It took them five days to catch up.

The Cougars came into last week ranked 17th in the nation in the AP preseason poll, the highest they've begun a season in 37 years. They took little time to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the nation.

UH shot out of the gate last week to a 3-0 start, including a double-digit win over 14th ranked Texas Tech. That, combined with a myriad of week one upsets, sent the Cougars soaring even further up the rankings.

By Monday afternoon, Houston was already one of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation.

Now it's important to note that it's incredibly early in the season, and there is plenty of time for something to go haywire. With TDECU stadium right across the street, they've had a front row seat to see just how sideways COVID can flip a season. The football team may only have 3 wins, but that's partly because they've had to postpone 5 games.

Regardless, they remain 10th in the nation at the moment, and it's no fluke. This is a solid team that has shown glimpses for the past three years.

Led offensively by sophomore guard Marcus Sasser (17.3 ppg) and Kansas transfer guard Quentin Grimes (16.0 ppg), the Cougars field a deep backcourt that has received welcome early contributions from freshman Tramon Mark (14.0 ppg) who's already earned an average of 19 minutes per game.

Speaking of minutes, UH brings one of the most important skills to the court this season: experience. In the era of one-and-done turnover among NCAA programs, the Cougars bring back four players that averaged over 20 minutes per game last season. That type of experience playing with one another and understanding the system head coach Kelvin Sampson plays could prove invaluable come tournament time.

What truly gives this team a shot though is their defense and hustle, both of which are a direct result of Sampson. They're simply relentless on defense. After finishing 11th in the nation last season only allowing 62.1 ppg, they've shown no signs of letting up. Through their first three games they've given up an average of 52 ppg. Even with double-digit leads, this is still a team diving for loose balls and mixing it up for offensive rebounds.

All of those ingredients make for a very salty, and very entertaining college basketball team. The Cougars have proved in the past three seasons that they're legitimately tournament worthy, and as the preseason American Conference champion favorite, this is a team that could—and should—have their eyes set even higher than their sweet sixteen appearance in 2019. Nothing is certain in the COVID era, however, but if they can make it through the season relatively unscathed they should be a tough out during March Madness.

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