40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

Excelsior: NYC’s State-Run Outdoor Pools Open

Roberto Clemente State Park pool

Roberto Clemente State Park pool, August 2008.

Hallelujah, the outdoor pools at Riverbank State Park in West Harlem (Manhattan) and Roberto Clemente State Park in Morris Heights (Bronx) opened with scant notice today! Both are offering two daily, ticketed rec swim sessions. Our beloved stalwart Riverbank will also have two one-hour lap swim sessions in the morning seven days a week starting Monday. Preregistration is required for those slots and is only available to current card-holders; I got the instructions this afternoon and hope I make the cut for two doses of chlorine next week.

Pool addicts have a commuting challenge in store: Both facilities are operating without locker rooms; as I suggested early on in this darn pandemic, so swimmers have to arrive dressed to swim with little else. Riverbank has limited outdoor showers and restrooms, and one hopes Roberto Clemente does too. Masks are required for everyone out of the water, and no bags can be left on deck. I look forward to the fashion creativity that emerges from these constraints.

Riverbank’s outdoor pool is a standard 6 lanes x 25 yards. Roberto Clemente’s is much bigger — probably 25 meters x 50 meters. My notes from my only visit there, in 2008, comment on its beautiful location on the east shore of the Harlem River and its red lines on the bottom. (It’s been renovated since, so perhaps the color of the lane markings has changed.) My party of four had the entire place to ourselves, and I bet that will be possible in the morning hours later in the summer. Judging from the park website, it now has a fantastic-looking splash zone too.

Capacity will be reduced from pre-COVID limits to facilitate social distancing. I’m sure the pools will be very popular and appreciated this hot holiday weekend. As summer stretches on, my prediction is that attendance will taper off, making a trip to the pool more of a sure thing.

The more scientists and medical experts figure out about COVID, the greater the evidence that outdoor swimming is safe and physical fitness is beneficial. Let’s all do our part to keep our time at the pool out of the water safe as well, and please be sure to thank the lifeguards, attendants, managers, and other people who are staffing and sanitizing the facilities.

Finally, a word of thanks to the Empire State for providing this vital cooling and social infrastructure! The full list of newly open state outdoor pools is here. Ever upward.

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Summer Is Saved? One Month Until Pools

Welcome to K-PoolSummer has heated up, and there’s finally some relief in sight. The city’s beaches all gain lifeguards tomorrow, and in another month we’ll have some pools! The announcement promises 15 by August 1, but wouldn’t it be nice if those were lowball figures? And maybe since we’re getting a late start, the pools can stay open into the fall?

The promised watering holes span a diverse collection of neighborhoods in the five boroughs and include some 40 Pool favorites:

However, it’s also missing some other favorites including many of the city’s biggest pools that would best accommodate social distancing. Thomas Jefferson, Lasker, and Red Hook, I’m thinking of you.

If the full complement of pools serves almost 2 million New Yorkers, we can expect that having fewer than a third of the total available for about half the season will only cool off a few hundred thousand of us — and cost around $2 million or .2 percent of the NYPD budget reduction. I hope we can do better than that.

Look for more details from the city tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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NYC Pools: No News Is Bad News

photo: empty pool

John Jay Park Pool, June 11, 2020

New York City is now in phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown, and Governor Cuomo has said it’s OK for pools to open, but there are no signs that our pools will serve us this summer. It’s awfully hot these days, and in any other year this would be the magical time that we first dip into shockingly cool city pools — just when we can’t wait any longer.

Many experts have written and spoken about the importance of this vital cooling infrastructure, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t budged.

Under normal times, our beaches would have already been open for a month. Instead, swimmers are rising extra early to have their swims done by 9 a.m., which is when ticketing starts. We know that lifeguards have been training, and there is snow fencing up on the Coney Island boardwalk possibly to be used to limit access in the service of social distancing, but there is no official word about beaches opening either.

Meanwhile, count me one among nearly 2 million extremely frustrated and hot New Yorkers.

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Experts Urge Opening the Pools

Let New Yorkers Swim

K Pool photo by Amanda.

Earlier this month I posted 40 Pools’ first-ever editorial on the importance of opening the city’s outdoor pools this summer. Needless to say, I am also strongly in favor of opening the beaches for many similar reasons. Here are some allied views from respected authorities on this urgent subject.

 

“If you close those pools, you’re putting 50,000 kids where? On the streets? They’re going to go swimming wherever they can, and they’re going to go into the river and they’re going to go into the lakes and ponds in the parks, and they’re going to open up fire hydrants. When 50,000 kids open up a few thousand fire hydrants, your water pressure suddenly drops and you can’t fight fires. And the kids are playing in the streets and they’re getting hit by cars. So basically what you’re saying by closing pools is it’s OK if a lot of kids die.”

– Former New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, interview with the New York Post, published April 17

 

“You can’t tell people in a dense urban environment, all through the summer months, we don’t have anything for you to do, stay in your apartment with the three kids, you know? That doesn’t work. There’s a sanity equation here also that we have to take into consideration.”

“People need to know that there’s an opening, there’s a future, there’s hope, that somebody’s doing something. And then you need a relief valve just on a day-to-day basis so people have some relief in their lives, some vent.”

– Governor Andrew Cuomo, April 26 (quoted in the Hill and the New York Times)

 

“With the fate of summer camp still up in the air, it’s all the more crucial to ensure people have opportunities for recreation.”

“Epidemiologists said that local officials can explore ways of safely opening beaches and pools by controlling density and enforcing social distancing.”

– New York Times, “How to Save Summer 2020” (Sunday editorial), April 26

 

And then there’s this fictional moment featuring the doctor from The Plague by Albert Camus (1947):

“Do you know,” he said, “what we now should do for friendship’s sake?”

“Anything you like, Tarrou.”

“Go for a swim. It’s one of these harmless pleasures that even a saint-to-be can indulge in, don’t you agree?” Rieux smiled again, and Tarrou continued: “With our passes, we can get out on the pier. Really, it’s too damn silly living only in and for the plague. Of course, a man should fight for the victims, but if he ceases caring for anything outside that, what’s the use of his fighting?”

<snip>

Once they were on the pier they saw the sea spread out before them, a gently heaving expanse of deep-piled velvet, supple and sleek as a creature of the wild. They sat down on a boulder facing the open. Slowly the waters rose and sank, and with their tranquil breathing sudden oily glints formed and flickered over the surface in a haze of broken lights. Before them the darkness stretched out into infinity. Rieux could feel under his hand the gnarled, weather-worn visage of the rocks, and a strange happiness possessed him. Turning to Tarrou, he caught a glimpse on his friend’s face of the same happiness, a happiness that forgot nothing, not even murder.

They undressed, and Rieux dived in first. After the first shock of cold had passed and he came back to the surface the water seemed tepid. When he had taken a few strokes he found that the sea was warm that night with the warmth of autumn seas that borrow from the shore the accumulated heat of the long days of summer. The movement of his feet left a foaming wake as he swam steadily ahead, and the water slipped along his arms to close in tightly on his legs. A loud splash told him that Tarrou had dived. Rieux lay on his back and stayed motionless, gazing up at the dome of sky lit by the stars and moon. He drew a deep breath. Then he heard a sound of beaten water, louder and louder, amazingly clear in the hollow silence of the night. Tarrou was coming up with him, he now could hear his breathing.

Rieux turned and swam level with his friend, timing his stroke to Tarrou’s. But Tarrou was the stronger swimmer and Rieux had to put on speed to keep up with him. For some minutes they swam side by side, with the same zest, in the same rhythm, isolated from the world, at last free of the town and of the plague.

Rieux was the first to stop and they swam back slowly, except at one point, where unexpectedly they found themselves caught in an ice-cold current. Their energy whipped up by this trap the sea had sprung on them, both struck out more vigorously.

They dressed and started back. Neither had said a word, but they were conscious of being perfectly at one, and the memory of this night would be cherished by them both.

 

Yes, it’s a metaphor, and, no, I haven’t read the whole book, but it works literally as well. It’s not just the kids who need the pools and beaches. Doctors need them too.

Please share other supportive voices on this subject. Listen up, Mayor Bill!

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Open the Outdoor Pools This Summer

Marcus Garvey Pool

The mayor’s coronavirus-inflicted “wartime” budget proposes to save money and limit disease transmission by, among other measures, not opening the New York City’s outdoor pools and beaches this summer. I’ve thought long and hard about this dreadful possibility and hereby submit my plea for opening the pools. You may suspect that this is a knee-jerk reaction, so please allow me to convince you of why pools are so important:

  1. New York gets really, really, hot in the summer — and it’s been getting even hotter. July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet. New Yorkers who don’t have second homes in which to wait out the virus will need places to cool off.
  2. Unlike the beaches, which require significant travel for many people to get to them, outdoor pools are spread throughout the city’s neighborhoods. There are 53 in total, and they can serve nearly 2 million New Yorkers in a typical summer. If we are still limited in our travels, pools will be more easily reachable by many people than the beaches.
  3. Chlorinated pools prevent transmission of the virus, and believe you me the city pools are chlorinated.
  4. Operations could be adjusted based on public health guidelines. For example, we could skip using the often-crowded locker rooms (except for bathroom access) and enter directly onto the pool deck in order to stay more spread out. It works in Philadelphia, so why not here? This could save money and allow New Yorkers to exercise their creativity in fashioning cover-ups for walks to and from the pool. To further limit crowding, we could restrict usage at certain times such as by gender or age so people can plan accordingly.
  5. Operating the pools costs only $12 million out of a $90 billion budget.
  6. The outdoor pools are free for all comers, which is especially important given the massive unemployment and other economic hardships wrought by the pandemic here in its current epicenter.
  7. As key pieces of communities’ social infrastructure, pools will help New Yorkers repair the wounds of isolation and loss and ease into new ways of safely sharing public space.

There are many other benefits to pools in normal times as well. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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#102: Berkeley City Club

pool view from the shallow endLocation: Berkeley, California

Configuration: 25 yards with space for about 5 swimmers to each have their own trajectory (without lane lines)

Fee: Members and hotel guests only

It felt like a different time even then, and more so in retrospect now that we are in week four of the worldwide coronavirus lockdown. Five wonderful early spring days visiting friends and family while staying at the medieval-style Berkeley City Club. Wake up before dawn, venture downstairs for a swim in the stunning pool, replenish in the dining room over breakfast and the New York Times (in print, thank you very much), and then set out for a day’s adventure. Life at this 90-year-old “Little Castle” was wonderfully civilized but not stuffy, active but relaxing. 

Like a precious few other pools I’ve experienced, this one was designed by and for women. Architect Julia Morgan — who broke gender barriers in her studies at Cal and the École des Beaux Arts and in 1904 became California’s first licensed woman architect — “had a special knack for swimming pools, using color, light, and shape to create sumptuous designs that flaunted a hedonism startling for so modest an architect,” according to biographer Sara Holmes Boutelle (Julia Morgan, Architect, 1988). Cal’s classically inspired Hearst Pool (my #53) whetted my appetite for her work, and I dream of someday swimming in her most famous aquatic creations at Hearst Castle. Most of her other pools, whether for private homes, YWCAs, or municipalities, are no longer intact.

Julia Morgan's first floor plan PLUNGE

The “Plunge Room” at right is the club’s largest interior space. Click for the full first-floor plan. Image courtesy Berkeley City Club.

For what was originally the Berkeley Women’s City Club (single-sex from opening in 1930 until 1962), Morgan made the pool the largest space in the entire building. According to Boutelle, it was put to good use from the beginning: “The Women’s City Club took special pride in ‘waterproofing’ its members, and indeed it pioneered in having a special swimming membership at a time when no other facility in Berkeley was open year-round to women for lessons or for recreational swimming. It is clear from the plan that the 25-by-75-foot pool (labeled ‘plunge’ by the architect) was to play a major role in club activities, since it was given the entire stretch of the building’s east wing.” 

pool view from the deep endAlthough built of concrete and steel, the pool has an Old World feel thanks to leaded-glass windows, magnificent tile work, decorative arches and beams disguised to look like wood, and abundant ornamentation. Swimming here also felt a bit Old World: no lane lines or pace clock, a co-ed locker room with private changing stalls, and a clientele that skewed senior. The water circulated at a healthy rate, and it got choppy with just one swimmer churning away. The very-shallow shallow end turned out to be good prep for the Trinity School Pool. The deep end no longer meets regulations for diving, so the board was removed.

pool view from the loggia

Pool view from the loggia. This is where I would hang out and work if I were a member.

It’s worth mentioning that in addition to the hotel, there are some permanent residents here and also a club membership option that I tried talking my brother into. What a nice place this would be to have always at your disposal.

The major drawback of swimming here is that it’s indoors in a city with abundant year-round outdoor options including Cal’s Spieker Pool just a block away. I always prefer swimming en plein air, and even the garden windows (open!) and portholes here didn’t do the trick, so stay tuned my report from a different option nearby. But first, a few more images from this treasure.

whale on the bottom

Whales swim through the chop at the bottom of the pool.

seahorses as if carved into a column

Naturalistic decor predominates, including these seahorses and shells in the poolside column’s capital.

central hallway

This way from the front desk to the pool.

arches and stairway

View from the main lobby.

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#105*: Trinity School Pool

Lane 2 at the pool

Photos by Piezy.

Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan

Configuration: 6 lanes x 25 yards

Fee: No drop-ins; membership or special event access only

Still unable to use the John Jay College pool, my team scrambled to find a place for the annual One Hour Swim competition and charity fundraiser. Lucky for me, it was a pool right across town that I’d never been to. The Trinity School pool, home of the Tunas, brought me good luck as I exceeded goals in both swimming and fundraising! With one week left in the fundraiser, my team is close to its overall event goal as well. (See below for info on the beneficiaries.)

10 feet deep diving wellAccording to Conrad, who was helping with the swim, this pool was built in the 1970s. It seems to have been well taken care of and also benefits from good lighting. The diving board was removed long ago due to stricter regulations on ceiling clearance, but the diving well remains, providing space for deep-water activities — which could be handy given that the lap pool is just 3 feet deep in the middle and 4 feet deep at the edges.

This shallow depth fed into a mindset of excuses at the start of my swim: choppy water, high walls (rather than turbulence-reducing infinity gutters) at the ends of the pool, and warm air and water temperatures were all potentially slowing us down. I also had a tickle in my throat, a bum elbow, and difficulty seeing the pace clocks. Whine, whine, whine.

On the up side, I had my own lane with Piezy as my trusty counter, I’d trained purposefully, a friendly lifeguard from Riverbank was on deck, and the above-mentioned conditions made me a dial back the pressure on myself. When Piezy stuck in a kickboard to signal that I’d completed my first 1000 yards, I craned to see the clock and realized my time was within range of my perennial pace goal. At the 2,000 mark I was on pace though slowing and not hitting the walls quite right. I decided to breathe a bit more often and found that I sped up every so slightly, much to my surprise. At the 3,000 and 4,000 marks I was still in range of my goal, and sure enough I hit it with more than 25 yards to spare by the time the hour ended! My total was five laps more than last year and my best hour swim since 2013, all thanks to staying relaxed and breathing often. (Is there a life lesson in here?)

After my swim I counted for Warren in the last heat of the day, admiring his perfect form, watching with awe as Shaina folded synchro moves into her laps one lane over, and seeing the other lanes hum with impressive swims. Afterward there was plenty of room for all the women in the spacious, if small-scaled, locker room. The rain shower head, at about a centimeter higher than my scalp, was a special treat that Jess directed me to.

Trinity School, I learned, was founded more than 300 years ago as a free school for poor students who would not be educated at home, as was the custom then. It is now the opposite. A member of the Ivy Prep league, its swim team has done very well the past five years judging from the poolside banners. Community members can join the Trinity Swim Club for regular lap swim access.

This year’s One Hour Swim benefits two charities; donations are being accepted until March 15. Each $50 donation also receives a raffle entry for round-trip JetBlue tickets. Thanks to the generosity of my team and its many supporters for assisting this year’s beneficiaries:

  • The Alliance for Positive Change, formerly the AIDS Service Center NYC, helps New Yorkers living with HIV and other chronic health conditions get the medical care, peer support, and housing assistance they need to achieve health, happiness, and stability.
  • The New York LGBT Bar Association provides free legal services to more than 1,000 low-income and vulnerable LGBTQ+ New Yorkers annually, with clients ranging from homeless youth to senior citizens on issues including housing, employment, discrimination, family law, and more.

*If you’ve been paying close attention, you may wonder about pools 102-104. I visited them prior to this in February — it was a good month! — and haven’t had a chance to post about them yet. I wanted to get this post up ASAP since the fundraiser ends soon.

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#101: Kelly Pool

lawn + pool

Location: Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Configuration: 50 meters with 3 lap lanes during my visit; 8 lanes total

Fee: Free

I’d long been wanting to visit a public pool in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has the country’s highest outdoor pool-to-resident ratio (1:21,600 versus 1:150,000 in New York, according to the New York Times), and a higher total count of pools than New York despite having just a fraction the population. Their season starts earlier in June than ours (though it also ends earlier), and as is the case in New York, Philly’s outdoor public pools are free for all comers.

My anticipated end-of-summer weekend getaway to Philly turned out to coincide with a family emergency that would reshape my fall, yet somehow I still did most of the trip and got in some precious moments of outdoor lap swimming on a Sunday afternoon. Kelly Pool had the honors for this important mental-health duty, chosen based on a recommendation from Philadelphia’s pool blogger, who cited it both for its lap lane availability and its expansive lawn.

pool deck, museum in background

More remarkable to me was that we could just walk onto said lawn without showing our bathing suit liners and locks or submitting to a search for contraband items such as newspapers and colored T-shirts, as is necessary at New York City’s public pools. The only delay was that the pool area was at capacity, so we had to wait about a minute until other people exited to be allowed in through the gate.

While just a quadrant of the pool was open for rec swim, in accordance with the lifeguard count, the three lap lanes extended the full length. Another novelty for this New Yorker was that the pool had actual lane lines corresponding to the black lines at the bottom. Interestingly, the “deep end” was in the middle of the pool, with shallow ends at both ends of the lanes.

The fellow swimmers were an eclectic bunch of chlorine addicts ranging from polite to oblivious and using all manner of gear. I enjoyed the view of the Please Touch Museum alongside the lawn. It seemed like there were changing facilities in there, but we never made it over that way because of a grumbling rumbling. About 20 minutes before closing time, we suddenly had to clear the pool and exit the lawn due to a thunder-like sound. We heard something, but the sun was out and there was so much noise in the park that we were skeptical of there actually being thunder. Still, the lifeguards were more than happy to get off a bit early.

Philadelphia Aquarium history posterThe park is a bit of a distance from the downtown area. Knowing we were short on time even without accounting for the possibility of thunder, we took a cab to get there. Heading back into town, we caught a direct bus just across the street from the park entrance. There was a lot of free parking by the pool, and correspondingly a lot of people fled to their cars when the thunder machine roared.

Earlier that same day, we happened to learn some pool history at the amazing Fairmount Water Works Museum. Kelly Pool used to be right here on the Schuylkill in the former water works building, but it was destroyed by a storm in the early 1970s. The National Historic Landmark site is now full of information about Philadelphia’s water supply and environmental stewardship — I highly recommend a visit.

Likewise, I recommend the pool. The Parks Department website is short on detail, so see the pic below for some valuable intel about when you might be able to enjoy the lane lines at Kelly Pool.

sign with pool hours

Post-thunder exodus. All photos courtesy of Neil.

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Not a Pool: TWA Hotel

rooftop pool with TWA logo and runway view

TWA Hotel pool. Photos by Gordon Gebert unless otherwise noted.

As the temperature drops this fall, I’m thinking fondly of a summertime outing taken with my coworkers on a hot day this past July. We were treated to a tour of the new TWA Hotel and the magnificent public spaces within the old TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. Our day ended with a long lunch and plenty of time for dunking up on the rooftop pool deck.

The pool is shallow and short so I didn’t even attempt to swim a lap. Rather, it’s a nice place to hang out and watch things flying around the airport and Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which in our case included birds, a gigantic swarm of dragon flies, and airplanes (seen but magically not heard).

Our tour guide told us that the pool would be open year round, though some aspects of the heating plan had yet to be determined. I’d be curious to check it out in the winter, especially if the deck also has some warm spots.

Day visitors are welcome for a fee, but there are no locker rooms and you have to leave a long list of personal items with security, making the whole experience a bit awkward. We loved the spaces and the views, had some bumps with the service just like the New York Times critic, and all agreed we’d go back in a heartbeat.

Here are some more views of the pool area and the rest of the property from this wonderfully memorable day.

table set with pool-themed accessories

Our lunch table complete with pool-themed accessories and TWA wings. Note that everything on the deck is white and there is no shade. We weren’t sure if this was because the project wasn’t completed or they don’t want guests to overstay their welcome up there. (This photo is mine.)

"Connie" on the tarmac

Architect Eero Saarinen’s creation as seen from the pool area atop one of the new hotel wings, with the “Connie” lounge inside a plane salvaged from the Honduran jungle.

three of us in the sun

Nothing says a good day at work like a pool huddle with some of your favorite coworkers. Thanks to Michael for the pic!

lobby lounge

The entire terminal is now public space, open to hotel guests and visitors alike. There’s even free wifi! Check out the beautiful former departure lounge.

departure lounge

Another view of the terminal, in all its sweeping glory.

white walls, red carpet, tunnel with a light at the end

The light at the end of the tunnel: a fantastic promenade sans harried travelers.

curvaceous concrete and bike rack

Curvaceous concrete and bike rack at the terminal entrance. (This photo is by yours truly.)

group photo in stripy room

Let’s hear it for this great team! (Photo by tour guide Kelly.)

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#100: Kosciuszko Pool

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Configuration: 3 wide lanes of 100 feet in Early Bird lap swim area; pool is 230 feet the long way

Fee: Free

The prospect of pool number 100 hung over me all year. I wanted it to be local and special, a tall order given that I’ve spent seven years ticking off other pools that fit those criteria. Happily, Parks came to my rescue by adding a Brooklyn wunderpool to the Early Bird lap swim program.

As soon as I saw Kosciuszko Pool on the list, I asked four of my favorite pool pals — all of them with 40 Pools from the beginning — to join me there for 7:00 a.m. laps one Friday early in the season. In a summer full of unexpected health issues among this cohort and our loved ones, it was extra special that we all turned up that steamy morning ready to explore a “new” pool and check out a neighborhood spot for breakfast. Kosciuszko Pool, correctly pronounced with two sh sounds but known more easily as K Pool, was perfect for the occasion.

5 of us in swimsuits

Pool and the Gang: Amanda, Lisa Lisa, me, Janet, and Piezy sneaking some post-swim pics. That’s a nice-looking shade structure and the lap area off in the distance.

What’s more, Amanda agreed to be our designated photographer, Janet gamely composed a special workout for the occasion, and they both agreed to share their work herein. Thank you Lane 2 buddies!

Check-in was smooth and professional, with Lisa Lisa coincidentally getting card number 100 — a high count given that this was just the sixth day of lap swimming. Clearly, this addition to the Early Bird program was already well appreciated. The locker rooms were roomy with a larger bench area that we are accustomed to, and the lap swim staff and fellow swimmers were welcoming. No pool rage here. (My only significant criticism was that after the swim the showers gave us just a modest trickle out of each head.)

Unlike many of the city’s massive lap pools, this one dated not from the WPA era but the 1960s. Buh-bye brick, hello concrete! Despite the change in materials, the attention to detail was just as thoughtful as the pools from 40 years prior, with Modern play sculptures and a shade overhang incorporated into the design.

Pipes and pyramid

Architect Morris Lapidus designed this play space atop the locker rooms, but the slide he created is no longer in use.

The lap area is at the far end of the pool, and regulars told us it’s even available during the day. (As of this posting date, there are two days left of lap swimming and then one more week of outdoor pools, so get there stat if you want to see for yourself.) One challenge for Janet in her workout writing is that we didn’t know ahead of time what the distance would be. It turned out to be the “short” dimension, which is 100 feet across. Three wide lane-like areas were designated slow, medium, and fast, and the acquatics specialists kept a close eye on things to prevent collisions and misanthropy. More and more swimmers piled in as the session went on, and we gazed longingly at the vast empty water beyond the lap area.

Long view of pool and bleachers

The lap area is so small and far away that you can barely see it!

The week was steamy hot, making the water in my usual Early Bird pool cloudy and warm, but K Pool was amazingly chilly — too chilly for Piezy to even stay in but perfect for me. The biggest detraction was the remnants of a chicken dinner strewn across the bottom or our lane area. Really.

This superblock of a pool was the work of Morris Lapidus, an architect who designed resort pools full of flare in places like Miami and the Caribbean. An immigrant from Russia, he grew up in Bed-Stuy, so it’s fitting that the Parks Department commissioned him for a pool in that neighborhood. Riding my bike here that early morning and then to Queens afterward, I was struck by how quickly and dramatically the neighborhoods in Brooklyn shift. Immediately surrounding the pool are low-rise residences, a school, and not much commercial activity or greenery.

The pool’s namesake, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an earlier immigrant from eastern Europe, has more than his fair share of structures named after him, including a New York bridge that reopened today. Janet incorporated colorful facts about both of these men into her commemorative workout.

With thanks again to my fellow pool tourists, here is Janet’s workout. And yes, I’ve continued to think about old Tadeusz whenever I try to do a good streamline.

Warmup: 400/533 yards (12-16 lengths). While swimming, streamline off of every wall, imagining your body as stiff and sturdy as the logs Kosciuszko used to dam rivers during the American Revolution. From Wikipedia:

The British advance force nipped hard on the heels of the outnumbered and exhausted Continentals as they fled south. Major General Philip Schuyler, desperate to put distance between his men and their pursuers, ordered Kościuszko to delay the enemy. Kościuszko designed an engineer’s solution: his men felled trees, dammed streams, and destroyed bridges and causeways. Encumbered by their huge supply train, the British began to bog down, giving the Americans the time needed to safely withdraw across the Hudson River.

Kosciuszko pool was designed by Morris Lapidus, the architect of the Fountainbleau in Miami Beach: “During an age when proper, refined American architecture was smitten by the big boxes and straight lines of such European internationalists as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Morris Lapidus was drawing curves and installing cupids in his lobbies.” Be inspired by Lapidus’s curves:
Swim 4 x 1 length, alternating lane leader—play follow the leader, making your length as curvy as the pool/crowd permits.

More Lapidus inspiration, from the Washington Post [with emphasis added by yours truly]:

It was as if American design were dominated by something like nouvelle cuisine — stark portions of food artfully arranged on an otherwise empty plate — while Lapidus was serving up great, heaping, artery-clogging slabs of triple-chocolate cake. As he put it himself: “If people like ice cream, why give them one scoop when you can give them three?” His contemporaries said “less is more,” Lapidus recalls. “And I said, less is nothing.”

So — in celebration of both of triple layers of triple chocolate cake, topped with triple scoops of ice cream, and also in celebration of Hannah’s 100th pool, let’s do
3 x (3 x 100 (i.e. 3 laps)):
          1st set: easy 100, medium 100, fast 100
          2nd set: each 100 easy-medium-fast by length
          3rd set: fast 100, medium 100, easy 100

Now back to Kosciusko: At some point in 1777, Kościuszko composed a polonaise and scored it for the harpsichord. According to Wikipedia, a polonaise rhythm goes like this:
musical notations

Let’s see if we can do 2 x 1 length kicking to this rhythm in honor of Koko.

And finally: Kosciuszko has had monuments/bridges/pools/towns named for him all over the US as well as in Europe, including his native Belarus. Do you know who was born in Kosciuszko, Mississippi? Oprah Winfrey, that’s who! Be your best swimming self as you do 6 lengths perfect stroke warmdown.

nice landscaping outside the pool complex

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