40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#20: Vassar College Kresge Pool

on April 16, 2012

Vassar College poolLocation: Poughkeepsie, New York

Configuration: 6 lanes of 25 yards

Fee: $10 drop-in fee with FISH Masters

Fees to Date: $151.41

Not content with just one visit to a pool at a formerly all-women’s college last week, I swam at Vassar College’s Kresge Pool in Poughkeepsie on Friday. I’d been there a number of times in my youth, since–then, as now–the pool served as a stand-in when other area pools were out of commission. When the YMCA closed for asbestos removal, for example, we swam at Vassar. The excuse now is the closure of the PMS pool for safety and efficiency upgrades. (Under regular circumstances, people from outside the Vassar community can only use the pool with a student, faculty, or staff person after providing at least 24 hours’ advance notice.)

Hannah, Carolyn, Vassar College pool

Me and FISH co-captain Carolyn.

I was happy to be here, as the pool has a very nice feeling to it and the water is exceptionally clear and just right temperature-wise. There’s a shallow bulkhead at the far end, separating off the diving well, and it is oh-so-tempting to peek underneath! Plus, the FISH Masters are very welcoming, even as they prepare for USMS Spring Nationals.

The pool continues a long tradition of athletics at Vassar. Its School of Physical Training, which opened with the college’s founding in 1865, is considered a milestone in women’s sports. The campus’s first pool opened in 1890, attracting female swimmers who wore “long black stockings and heavy cotton suits, which they dried by hanging them over the railing between sessions” according to this history. (This sounds tortuous to this pool tourist, who does not even like wearing stockings outside the pool!) In 1933, Vassar opened a pool in Kenyon Hall that was big enough for canoeing and hosted an extremely popular synchronized swim club. (Kenyon is still standing, but squash courts are its only remaining athletic facilities.) The pool I swam in is part of Walker Field House, which opened in 1982 (well after the school turned co-ed) and always reminded me of the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, with its undulating roofline.

Walker Field House in the sun

Walker Field House in the morning sun.

The Vassar campus is worth a visit regardless of whether you make it to the pool. Growing up in Poughkeepsie, I thought that all colleges must be this pretty, but that is definitely not the case; Vassar’s campus is exceptional, especially on a beautiful morning . . . or a crisp fall afternoon . . . or a snowy winter day. I enjoyed my sunrise bike ride up to the field house and am happy to report that my bike was unmolested during my swim, unlike at Poughkeepsie Middle School.

The real reason for my trip to Poughkeepsie, though, was to see this guy. My third time meeting him was the charm, as I finally got him to sit on my lap and enjoy a head scratch.

Toby the cat


2 responses to “#20: Vassar College Kresge Pool

  1. PZ says:

    H, Love the Toby photo. -PZ

  2. […] of this place, which I’ve only seen from a bus window–and from knockoffs like Vassar College’s pool. Her post exemplifies one of my favorite themes, namely, what lasting memories pools make. Future […]

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