Configuration: 10 lanes of 50 meters
Fees to Date: $181.74
Pool number 40 happened to be the one I consider the Cadillac of Parks pools. Hamilton Fish Park Pool is a regulation length and has markings on the bottom and even two lane lines–luxe treatment for a city pool. That all pales in comparison to my favorite thing there, though: the outdoor shower.
The pool is yet another miraculous construction from 1936, part of an older park complex of which remains only a lovely Beaux Arts building on the eastern edge (at right). This is where the bathroom is, and unfortunately it is nowhere near the pool, showers, or locker room, at least not the way you have to navigate the fences and stairs to travel among these key areas. Swimming here requires a strong bladder (unless you want to be like the Olympic swimmers).
“Ham Fish,” as everyone calls it, is the subject of a feature-length documentary, The Pool, about a busy day in its life and some of the characters who make everything work. It’s worth checking out with fellow pool fans if you have the chance.
I find the swimming here to be quite enjoyable, both for the pool and the people–enthusiastic staff and a high population of creative types from the East Village and Brooklyn. The depth of just 3 feet, 5 inches at first seems too shallow for flip turns, but it is manageable. If I were to be really picky, I would rotate the orientation by 90 degrees so that the morning sun was off to the side rather than straight ahead in one direction.
Two friends who were maybes for a swim here when I came last Friday morning ended up not being able to join me, and a group of familiar faces who sometimes come over from Williamsburg to swim weren’t there either, so I celebrated the 40 milestone on my own, or rather, in the company of many happily swimming strangers.
As I said, the biggest treat of all is the array of outdoor showers awaiting after the swim. Not many things are more blissful than an outdoor swim followed by a cool outdoor shower on a steamy August morning in Manhattan. If I lived closer to this pool, I would probably stop by multiple times a day just for that shower. Just one tip: Remember to keep your suit on until you are in the locker room.