Location: Harlem, Manhattan
Configuration: However many 25-meter trajectories you can squeeze in without lane lines or markings
Fees to Date: $166.74
It’s a busy season for pool tourists, especially if you view the city’s outdoor lap-swim offerings as a checklist. In the try-them-all spirit, and thanks to organization by Lisa Lisa, the Pool Tourism Club convened at Jackie Robinson Pool last Wednesday morning. We found ourselves a narrow strip of unclaimed blue highway the short way across the pool and proceeded to have some fun.
Janet had done her homework, providing a font of Jackie Robinson-specific and general baseball trivia to enliven our swim sets. Jackie’s accomplishments, you see, include breaking the color line in baseball, when in 1947 he became the first African-American athlete to play professionally. His team was the Dodgers, then based in Brooklyn, and he earned himself title roles in a city park, pool, school, and highway.
Our warm-up was a set of nine with a stretch after number seven. We practiced sliding into the wall and did some reps of four balls followed by a walk. In honor of Jackie’s retired #42, we stretched to see how much ground we could cover in 42 strokes. In one of our activities, I somehow managed to get a piece of paint chipping off the bottom of the pool up my fingernail, a unique–and painful–souvenir. Capping things off, Janet played a lively rendition of “Take Me out to the Ballgame” on the piano in the rec center’s beautiful arched entryway, under Jackie’s watchful eye.
This 1936 pool is beautifully situated in Jackie Robinson Park (formerly Colonial Park), tucked at the bottom of a steep hill with greenery poking through the fencing and brickwork on three sides and city views to the fourth. Lap swimming is on the short axis in the northern two-thirds of the pool, and there wasn’t much room to spare. The water was a pleasantly refreshing temperature on this already hot morning, and the aquatics staff took a keen interest in our swim. Afterward, we enjoyed the deck-side water park and broke rules left and right in the locker room through subversive activities such as washing our hair.