Configuration: 3 lanes of 23 yards
Fee: Free on first Mondays
Fees to Date: $151.41
What the Tony Dapolito pool lacks in depth it makes up for in character. It matches the look and feel of the city-run bathhouses-turned-pools I’ve visited on the first Mondays of the past four months, which is to say it has an abundance of natural light, careful tilework, a surface lane count that doesn’t match the striping on the bottom (multicolor striped lines in this case), and loads of eager swimmers.
The relatively large number of people crowding into the three lanes this past Monday evening and the counterclockwise flow of the middle lane allowed for leisurely swimming only. The reasoning for this traffic pattern is unclear but ingrained. Met Pool‘s no-breaststroke policy would make a positive difference here.
At just two and a half feet deep in the shallow end, it is easily the shallowest pool I’ve done a flip turn in all year. When I first jumped in, my legs weren’t even fully submerged, much to the amusement of my less tall swim buddies Lisa Lisa and her sister Kris. The water is so shallow that the “fingertip drag” drill could take on a whole new meaning here, as it is indeed possible to touch the bottom while approaching the wall. That’s no excuse not to do a flip turn, though–I managed to do plenty without any problem.
Many of these pools came about due to an 1895 law requiring New York State cities with more than 50,000 people to have free bathhouses; you can read more about this in this history of the Dapolito Rec Center, which opened way back in 1908.
In that same piece, you’ll see that until recently it was known as the Carmine Street Recreation Center. If you, like me, have that name in your head, don’t let it fool you.The building is not actually on Carmine Street, as you can see in the photo at left. This minor detail coupled with the usual navigational challenges of the West Village had me going in circles trying to find the place.
There’s also an outdoor pool open here in the summer, and it appeared in the gallery show I saw recently. It is not very big and uses the short axis for lap swimming, so I’ve never been interested in visiting.
The 2004 renaming of the rec center honors a local community leader and owner of a famous local bakery. Should you wish to commemorate his legacy, perhaps you could visit the nearby Jacques Torres Chocolate. Lisa Lisa, Kris, and I sampled three types of cookies and deemed good old chocolate chip to be by far the most superior.