40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#27: West Side YMCA Pool

on May 21, 2012

Location: Upper West Side, New York

Configuration: 4 lanes of 25 yards

Fee: Free as guest of member (entry also available via Fitness Passbook or Y guest pass)

Fees to Date: $151.41

The “large pool” at the West Side Y almost fits the mold of the old city bathhouses that I’ve been enjoying, with its pretty tilework and five-lanes-on-the-bottom-but-only-four-up-top configuration, but it doesn’t have any windows. When I first came here many years ago, there was a bizarro swim pattern that required swimming one direction in one lane and moving over to an adjacent lane for the return, but that was corrected long ago.

fast lane sign hung up by band-aidsmystery doorI returned last Friday morning to get in the first of a few necessary long swims in preparation for stage 1 of 8 Bridges, which I finally signed up for, and it was perfect! It’s a real swimmers’ facility, with cool water, an on-deck stretching area with mats, supportive staff, and mostly good etiquette. Another novelty is that the backstroke flags are hung from the balcony railings. Ooh, towels are provided, too. The pool opens at 5:00 a.m. on weekdays, making even a rather long swim feasible before the work day begins.

I could see the clocks at either end clearly to watch the minutes pass and keep track of when feeding pauses were coming up. To help pass the time, I thought about the people who were instrumental in reviving the open water swim scene in New York, many of whom met here swimming masters in the 1990s. I also liked looking at the tiled waves in the pool gutters (you can see them in the lower left corner of the photo above) and wondering what was behind the medieval-looking mystery door by the shallow end.

Janet came for the last hour, so we were sometimes three in the lane then, but otherwise there was just one other person or me all by myself.  After all that, the best part was yet to come–another pool! Stay tuned.

One response to “#27: West Side YMCA Pool

  1. Janet says:

    About that medieval looking door–you once had to open it up to get a pool buoy. It’s as heavy as it looks. There were also some water polo balls and other ancient pool equipment stashed inside–it’s basically a small closet. I have no idea what’s in there now–haven’t peeked in for a while!

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