Configuration: 4 lanes of 25 yards
Fee: $2 guest pass with member accompaniment
Total Fees to Date: $141.41
Fittingly enough for a school formerly dedicated to teacher education, the Hunter College pool has a thing or two to teach other pools. Through a 2008 renovation by mdm Architecture, the pool gained a high-efficiency dehumidification unit and a low-tech cover, both of which make it more energy efficient.
You can see the cover along the far wall in the photo above; it gets reeled across from the deep end using a cable strung up near the ceiling. Covering the pool overnight keeps water from evaporating, which reduces heat loss, the amount of chemicals required, and the run time for the dehumidifier. It’s such a simple and smart idea that I wonder why other indoor pools don’t follow suit and blanket themselves after hours.
I think the pool must date to the late 1930s along with the rest of the North building it is housed in. The school did not start admitting men until the 1960s, meaning that the pool was built primarily for women, which is neat to think about. (Skinny women, if the lane width is any indication.) In my imagination, the swim times of yore were a bit friendlier than the tightly schedule women’s only session I tried at the Shorefront Y, for example. Other than the small size of just four narrow lanes, it’s a fine place to swim, though a bit on the warm side. People had reasonably good lane etiquette, as is necessary in such tight quarters, the lifeguards were friendly and helpful, and the locker room was adequate if lacking in frills. Fellow swimmers represented a wide variety of skills, ages, and ethnicities, including a woman in a full-body swim cover who I believe was Muslim.
Most of Hunter’s other athletic facilities are in the 1985 Sportsplex at the bottom of the West building, which lays claim to being the deepest building in New York City. We had to stop at the Sportsplex as part of the entry process before heading over to the pool, which is just one flight below ground. Like at LaGuardia Community College, there’s a cumbersome sign-in process involving multiple stops before you are allowed in to swim.
This pool scores as the closest to my apartment among the 19 (!) to date, but it’s not one I can use regularly, as guests are only allowed with a Hunter student, faculty, staff, or alum who has a free fitness membership. My entry came courtesy of Stephanie, a big supporter of this project who is already scheming about more pool tourism. When she’s not swimming, she’s a librarian, helping to ensure that Hunter’s teaching legacy continues.