Location: Red Hook, Brooklyn
Configuration: quite a few lane-less lap lanes of 40 meters
Fees to Date: $166.74
The Sol Goldman Recreation Center & Pool at Red Hook Park is the best outdoor city pool for lap swimming because it has designated space for laps even outside the early bird and night owl hours. In fact, you can come swim laps here any time the pool is open for general swimming, i.e., 11:00-3:00 and 4:00-7:00 in season.
The other major draw at Red Hook is the convergence of food trucks that pre-date the food truck craze and offer delicious and inexpensive Central American fixings across the street. What could be better for more Fourth of July fun following the early start at Riverbank?
As at all city outdoor pools, entry is free, however you have to prove your compliance with a number of rules in order to get in. Be prepared to show your lock, which had better be sturdy; your bathing suit; and, for men, your bathing suit’s mesh lining before you enter the building. If you are bringing young children, their diapers will be checked for seaworthiness. When crossing the threshold from locker room onto pool deck, you will have to shake out your towel a number of times to prove that you are not hiding contraband items such as electronic devices–notice I took no pictures here–water toys, or colored T-shirts. (Prior to making your first visit to a city pool’s general swim session, be sure to study up. Forewarned is forearmed, or in this case, unarmed.)
Having cleared these challenges, we found this 1936 WPA pool to be a delight–cool, clear, and with interesting aids to navigation such as trees, poles, and pyramids. I was especially excited to swim here because of its unconventional length: 40 meters! In honor of this special number, Piez, Lisa Lisa, John and I did a set of 40 x 40s, where we each got to choose the pattern for a few laps. My selection was patriotic freestyle: 2 laps with a 7-4 breathing pattern followed by one lap with a 12-beat kick. (7-4-12, get it?) We sometimes had to dodge other lap swimmers, given the lack of lane lines and the erratic swim habits of some of our fellow pool-goers, and we observed some interesting multi-legged aquatic life, but all of this is part of the price of admission.
If you get lucky on the pool deck, you can snag a lounge chair for sunbathing. Otherwise, there is plenty of room to spread out your towel. In fact, this abundance of space is what allows Red Hook to have unfettered lap swimming set off from the free-swim area by a no-man’s-zone. Farther north in Brooklyn, the new McCarren pool isn’t so lucky; its lap area has been consistently turned over to the general swim population that fills the pool to capacity every day.
After we had our fill of 40-meter laps, we filled up across the street with huaraches, sopas, and mystery juice. The large array of food trucks that usually come on weekends weren’t there since it was a Wednesday, so the sole truck present was lucky to get all the business of our hungry group. We were so hungry, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture of our loaded-up plates.
For those not coming by bike, Red Hook is a bit remote, however IKEA is here to help, offering a free shuttle from Downtown Brooklyn as well as ferry service. What are you waiting for?