40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#1: Riverbank State Park Indoor Pool

on January 2, 2012

Location: West Harlem, New YorkLisa, Joe, Piez, and me doing our first workout of 2012

Configuration: 50 meters, indoors

Fee: $2

The quest has begun! For the first swim of this project, I chose the pool where I’ve done the most swimming for the past couple of seasons, Riverbank State Park. TNYA buddies Lisa Lisa, Joe, and Piez joined me at noon for a leisurely workout during which we were able to commandeer our own lane.

There are many things to love about Riverbank. The price is right, the water is clear, the views out over the Hudson are fabulous, and people always seem so happy to be there, swimmers and staff alike. (Even when staff are practicing CPR en masse on a limbless dummy, as they were today.) The diversity of the clientele is amazing: aqua-joggers, people who are content to float while hugging a kickboard, the super-cute kids team, die-hard lap swimmers, and top-level athletes all have a place at Riverbank, and all are very friendly to one another. Equally amazing, this incredible place is hardly ever crowded.

I often swim first thing in the morning, soon after the pool opens at 6:30 a.m. At that time, I love watching light from the rising sun as it hits the buildings across the Hudson, gradually brightens the sky, and illuminates the eastern towers of the pool building. In the late afternoon, you’re best off with tinted goggles, since the sun shines right into the water.

The pool is about 9 hilly miles round-trip from my apartment, so a visit here also gives me a chance to enjoy a nice bike ride. Today’s was more challenging than usual, as the wind from the west was so strong that I had to walk my bike the final stretch of 120th Street before turning onto Riverside Drive. Of course, I also had to walk once I got to the park, as rules strictly prohibit biking. This is a state park, mind you, where you can drive a car or ride a bus. The indignity of having to walk my bike back to the pool building kept me away from this place for years, but I’m glad I finally got over that. Still, if I could change just one thing here, I wouldn’t mess with the fickle water temperature (pool or showers), the critters in the locker rooms, the nonfunctioning doors into the building, or the confusing system whereby you purchase a pool pass at a different location depending on the time of day. I would just allow bikes to be ridden in the park.

Gripe aside, it’s a great place to swim, and it felt right to kick off the project here. I really appreciate the eager participation of my swim buddies and am excited about the pool prospects we discussed today. 39 to go!

Update #1: See Riverbank’s Secrets, Revealed! for tips on making the most of your visit.

Update #2: As of fall 2013, the long course lap session goes until 8:30 a.m. every day. You now need a pre-paid card for entry, which generally cannot be obtained during the early morning session, but once you get one you can add to it remotely. The pool has some new murals too, and the lockers are now blue!

22 responses to “#1: Riverbank State Park Indoor Pool

  1. jen says:

    Consider this your official invitation to the Dodge Y. Yay 40 pools project!

  2. Amy says:

    Hi Hannah! I love that pool too and I’ve been thinking about going back there, so it’s great to read your post on this. I agree with you 100% about the no biking rule. I wonder if there’s some way we could petition to change that. It seems so antithetical to an athletic complex.

  3. Patricia Sener says:

    Great project Hannah! Let me know if you need ideas–you know I get around! Last few times I was at Riverbank, the temperature was intolerable (84-86F). Is this typical? Should I give them another chance?

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks Patricia. I hear you’re at St. Francis these days and hope to pay a visit! Riverbank is often on the warm side, but I’m not sure of the exact temperature. I’ve adjusted–thanks to Brighton, my temperature average is still good. Amy, the bike ban on the roadway was overturned briefly in the 1990s, but then it was reinstated. This is not the only state park that takes a very hard line against bikes, unfortunately.

  4. Patricia says:

    Actually, I think we’re kindred spirits in terms of pool wanderlust–I’ve already moved on to a new pool, which is fabulous AND fabulously bike-able! Plus it enables me to not get up at the crack of dawn in order to swim. Uncrowded and cold. I can give you a 7 day pass if you like!

  5. MARK HELLER says:

    Hannah……. happy new year!!!! great project . bike rule has to go.i can”t wait to swim at riverbank. mark

  6. Patricia says:

    Brooklyn Sports Club
    Off the Belt Parkway

  7. […] nice to have in the back of my mind. Come September, when the outdoor pools go into hibernation and Riverbank shuts down for its annual, month-long cleanse, I know I’ll be wistful for a regular pool […]

  8. […] New York, the others being Manhattan’s Asphalt Green George Delacorte Olympic Pool and the Riverbank State Park indoor pool, and it remains a home for top-level training and competition. Membership is available to the […]

  9. Maria says:

    How deep is the pool?

  10. […] means I’m about to turn 44. I closed out the year with a swim at–where else?–Riverbank. Here we are bright and early yesterday […]

  11. […] ago. We needed some fresh water due to the recent end of outdoor lap swimming in the city pools and Riverbank‘s annual post-Labor Day closure. (Its reopening, which is perhaps tied to the sighting of the […]

  12. Carl says:

    I can’t seem to find anywhere on the internet what the temperature of the water is…!

  13. SY says:

    … what kind of critters are there in the locker room? 😳 I recently moved to the area and found out about the facility and am considering joining. Thanks!

  14. […] wait a while out front for the pool to open due to a late lifeguard, something all too familiar to Riverbank swimmers a few years ago. The regulars who were gathered were reminiscent of Riverbank, too–a […]

  15. Ramonita Ortiz says:

    I really want to go to the Riverbank swimming pool this summer. I am 82 years old. What is the price? What are the hours during the day?

    • Hannah says:

      The price for seniors is just $1! In the summer, it’s open swim all day starting at 9:00. For lap swimming, you have to go at 6:30-8:30 a.m. seven days per week.

  16. […] mark this milestone birthday at Riverbank with some of the same folks who inaugurated this project 10 years ago. However, we are amidst what I can only hope is Peak Omicron, and it feels foolhardy to encourage […]

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