If page views are the judge, Riverbank’s indoor pool is winning this blog’s popularity contest. To help new visitors learn the ropes at the ‘Bank and enjoy some happy swims there, here are some helpful tips.
- There is always long course (50-meter) lap swimming at 6:30 a.m.–weekdays, weekends, and even most holidays. It lasts until 8:15 on most weekdays and 8:30 on weekends and school holidays. Weekends are more crowded because some lanes are taken by special programs such as the super-cute Redtails youth team. The online schedule usually is not updated for holidays, so check for the printed schedule on site or call ahead if in doubt. Occasionally, the full pool may not be open due to lifeguards being late or absent. Be patient.
- The entry fee for the morning adult lap session is $3. You can pay at the ticket window right by the northern door to the pool building and get a receipt, which you’ll turn in before entering the locker rooms. They also have you sign in in the morning, which means you get to look at the list and see who else is there. January 2013 update: You can no longer buy pool passes at the pool. They are sold at the skating rink only. Do not ask questions. February 2013 update: You can buy single-visit pool passes at the pool but not monthly lap swim passes. They are sold at the skating rink only during selected non-lap swim hours. Do not ask questions.
- Currently, said northern door is the only way in to the building. Both northern and southern doors will let you out. Keep checking, though; things do eventually get fixed.
- During the daytime family rec swim sessions, there are usually four or five 25-yard “courtesy lanes” for lap swimming. On rare occasions when the other end of the pool isn’t being used for special programs and there are enough lifeguards, there may be 50-meter lap lanes.
- The entry fee for the rec swim period is $2, however the pool ticket window is closed at this time. You can either stock up on $2 receipts from the pool ticket window and save them for future use or go over to the skating rink building to pay your $2 and get a receipt. Yes, this is a government operation.
- I am not sure what goes on in the evening. Sorry.
- Time-saving tip for the locker rooms: Lock up most of your stuff in a regular locker, and then put your towel and shampoo in one of the little lockers across from the showers (unlocked). You can also bring extra stuff out onto the deck.
- The showers in the women’s locker room vary greatly in temperature, from day to day and shower to shower. You might freeze in one and be scalded in another. (This may well be the case in the men’s locker room too, but I can’t speak to that.) There is one shower that is the most reliably temperate, but that is one secret I cannot reveal. In the others, you can sometimes moderate the temperature by turning the dial just part of the way on, or turning on the other shower connected to the same pipe. In some showers, you have to turn the dial and press a button to get the water to come out. For $2 or $3, I’m not complaining.
- The southern entrance to the park, at 138th Street and Riverside Drive, is closer to the pool building. In the early morning hours, the guard booth there is usually empty, so you may be able to bike in without being reprimanded. Or so I’ve heard.
- To get between Riverbank and the Hudson River Greenway, you have two options. One involves a steep hill at 137th and Riverside Drive that goes down onto a quiet street. Continue downhill and you’ll come to Fairway and the greenway. This is more enjoyable going down than up. The other option is the elevator in the northeast corner of the park, which goes down to the DEP parking lot right off the greenway. The elevator is bike friendly.
- Beware black ice in the park when there’s been overnight precipitation and temperatures below freezing.
- Stay tuned for outdoor pool info and hairball alerts come summer.
- Beware September. The pool closes for cleaning in September.
Let me know if you have any questions. Once you get used to the quirks, you’ll love it.