Location: Claremont Village, Bronx
Configuration: However many 100-meter trajectories you can squeeze in without lane lines or markings
Fees to Date: $166.74
Read closely, because I am about to let you in on a big secret. 100 meters big, to be precise. The Crotona Park Pool is hiding in plain sight in its namesake park in the Bronx, and my visit there last Thursday night found a giant, loooong, empty pool that you can have all to yourself during lap swim hours. It’s a true, blue, New York miracle.
In case you are unfamiliar with 100-meter lengths, consider that completing a 400 IM here takes just four laps. The mile, 15. If you happen to be the type of person who forces yourself to do two laps of butterfly in every pool you visit, beware this behemoth. A lap of fly here is no joke, let me tell you. Don’t let me tell you anything else, though–go see for yourself.
My first visit capped a 2008 Pool Tourism Club outing that is still one for the record books: a four-pool, all-day tour of the Bronx. The more recent visit may have broken the record for most lap swimmers here. Our contingent was nine people strong last Thursday for Night Owl swimming and frolicking as a brutal heat wave was finally breaking. There was evidence that the pool had been well used during the day, but no one remained for lap swimming. If not for us, in fact, the handful of lifeguards and staff on duty would have had nothing to do except watch the white cat wandering around the bleachers. Instead, we enlivened their evening with a show including closed-eye swimming (I held a straight course once and veered left between pyramids into the shallow-end rope another time), pyramid-circling figure eights, and the dreaded lengths of fly.
The pool dates to the annus mirabilis of NYC pool, 1936. It is not the biggest facility to have opened that summer, but it ties in length with a few others and is the only one to offer lap-swimming on the long axis. You can check it out during Early Bird or Night Owl sessions. I’ve only ever visited in the evening, when the setting sun makes for a beautiful twilight, with pretty row houses and trees completing the view.
What’s wrong with it? Well, there are no lines on the bottom, and the locker room presents the opportunity for voyeurism with its wide-open doors onto the pool deck, but neither of these things is much of a problem when no one else is around.
Some of my fellow pool tourists have already returned for a loooong-course workout, and I may well join them for a break from the John Jay masses. Plus, I need to figure out what’s up with the four-foot pies. After the supersized laps, a giant slice o’ pie would really hit the spot.