Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan
Configuration: 5 lanes of 25 meters
Fee: Free with members guest pass
Fees to Date: $151.41
My TNYA lane-mate Aliza teaches swim classes at the JCC, and I’ve been scheming to join her for a swim here for months, including getting a pass from a bona fide member. Today was the day things worked out, and it happened to be a great one for appreciating this pool’s most special characteristic: its view. The building is on a corner lot in the heart of the Upper West Side, and rather than being buried underground, the pool is up on the sixth floor! The north and east walls are all windows, allowing the sun to shine in and the swimmers to look out, whether to admire said view out toward Central Park, spy on tony neighbors, do your planks for the world to see, or watch the clouds roll in.
The JCC recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Its opening was part of a welcome trend of health clubs being loaded with spa-inspired products, amenities, and decor to give a sense of relaxation and luxury rather than just providing an exercise venue. It’s nice to visit places like this, especially if you’re used to dingy basement warrens. Just not having to bring my own towel makes a place rank as pretty fancy in my book! (Speaking of books, the JCC used to be included in the Fitness Passbook, but unfortunately it disappeared from that a couple years ago.) In addition to not bringing towels, you could also skip bringing natural soap, fortifying shampoo and conditioner, hair styling gel, and spray deodorant, as you will find all this and more in the locker room.
View and amenities aside, it’s an OK but not great pool–shallow all the way across, a little on the warm side, wide lanes, deck-side showers and bathroom, and a separate teaching pool. Why they couldn’t have added one more lane for an even six, I don’t know. I would have chosen that instead of the extra length provided by the 25 meters if anyone had asked me.
That extra lane would have been handy this morning, as I must have shared my lane with about 20 people in the course of less than two hours. Aliza and I swam together for a fun 45 minutes, and otherwise most swimmers were in and out rather quickly. The lifeguards proactively moved people into pace-appropriate lanes, but still the range of speeds in the “fast” lane provided a navigational challenge that varied from lap to lap given the high turnover. The locker rooms were really crowded too. According to Aliza, this is par for the course; she usually doesn’t get to do a real swim workout here.
Sadly for us but happily for Aliza, she is going to be leaving town to start med school this summer. She has an impressive pool-tourism background, with numerous midwestern and mid-Atlantic pools to her credit, and I hope we get to do some other non-TNYA swims together before she goes.