I didn’t expect the new book about the High Line to contain pool-related material, but it turns out that Nathalie Rinnie of Austria envisioned the elevated rail structure as a mile-and-a-half-long, highly covetable lap pool in her submission for a 2003 ideas competition. Her proposal would have striped black lines on the bottom and filled the structure with water, allowing for an incredible swim above, alongside, and through buildings in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Wow. Just walking the High Line provides such a new and different perspective. Can you imagine swimming it?!
Out of 720 entries in the conceptual competition, which was run when demolition was still a threat, this was one of four winners, and it remains the favorite of one of the two founders of Friends of the High Line. (Click through to see the birthday-suit clad swimmer who added to the proposal’s appeal.) Since then the organization not only succeeded in preserving the High Line but managed the process of turning it into a beautiful and popular promenade and park.
The northernmost section, which sweeps dramatically over toward the Hudson, remains unfinished, so I’ll hold out hope that at least a portion of it could be turned into a pool. It would have to be a lap pool (rather than a wading pool or Dumpster pool) so that you could swim along with your head at water level and take in the views to either side. I can’t think of any greater incentive for people to practice bilateral breathing. A pool shorter than the full length of the line would have a particular benefit for me as well, because of my self-imposed requirement to swim two lengths of butterfly in every pool workout. A mile of fly sounds impossible, but I would work at it if only this pool were real.