40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#40: Hamilton Fish Park Pool

on August 8, 2012

lap pool Location: Lower East Side, Manhattan

Configuration: 10 lanes of 50 meters

Fee: Free

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.

wading pool and bathhouse

Carrère & Hastings’s Beaux Arts gymnasium, designed in 1898, is all that remains of the park that was here before the pool.

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.

7 responses to “#40: Hamilton Fish Park Pool

  1. laura says:

    Congratulations on your 40 pool marker. I will bring my bathing suit next time I am in the neighborhood and we’ll go to one of your faves.

  2. kentmclau says:

    Congrats, Hannah!

  3. Amy says:

    Happy 40th Pool!!

  4. Zoe W. says:

    Congratulations on 40 pools. It’s inspiring following your progress

  5. […] good measure, are a few more possibilities to whet your appetite: Jackie Robinson, Asser Levy, and Hamilton Fish in Manhattan and the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park and of course lake Crotona Park […]

  6. […] friend came across this gem of a video set at Hamilton Fish, a gem of a pool on the Lower East Side. I implore you to watch it and then watch it again, because […]

  7. […] Hamilton Fish, Jackie Robinson, Wagner, Marcus […]

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