Configuration: 6 lanes of 25 yards
Fee: $5 (though it looks like we should have been charged $7)
Fees to Date: $163.74
My informal Pool Tourism Club is getting excited about outdoor pool season, which begins this week. To help get ready, we did a second annual visit to a lovely indoor pool followed by an outdoor, waterfront picnic and a thrilling tram ride last week. The pool belongs to Roosevelt Island Sportspark, a state-run facility convenient to the tram and subway stops on this residential East River island.
Both times we’ve visited en masse, we received a warm welcome from the desk staff. This time the lifeguard also went the extra mile, politely relocating a swimmer so that we could commandeer our own lane. The staff is justifiably proud of this oasis, a sentiment that also comes through on the Sportspark website: “the pool sits amid stadium seating, giving the vital adult swimmer an ambiance of competition for their laps or energetic kids added grandeur to their play.”
Natural light that comes in via two banks of windows as well as the large skylight enhances said grandeur, and the water is sparkly clear. The only thing I would change is the steel siding, which I find challenging to push off of on flip turns due to the lack of traction.
A visit here can double as a history lesson. Last time around, we did drills such as swimming with our eyes closed or using only our arms in homage to the island’s various namesakes: Hog Island (1637), Manning Island (1666), Blackwell’s (1686), Welfare (1921), and [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt (1973). Next up for this looong, skinny island in view of–and politically part of–Manhattan’s Upper East Side is a high-tech university campus, which has been generating considerable buzz even before groundbreaking. Naturally, I hope the new campus will include a pool so that this lovely Sportpark is not overwhelmed.
The Roosevelt Island Tram runs right alongside the bridge and makes the visit here extra worthwhile, as the ride feels like an effortless float into Manhattan with a superhero-like view above streets and into apartment buildings. Next time, we’ll have to add a Superman drill to our repertoire.