40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#42: Asser Levy Outdoor Pool

on August 19, 2012
Asser Levy looking west

Photo borrowed from the Parks department.

Location: Gramercy, Manhattan

Configuration: 3 lanes in trapezoidal pool maxing out at about 40 yards

Fee: Free

Fees to Date: $181.74

“This pool has issues,” the aquatics specialist told me part-way through my first-ever visit to Asser Levy outdoor pool last Friday evening. This was not exactly news. I’d already seen several verbal altercations and deliberate provocations as people got the tension from the week out of their systems. The issue I was unwittingly causing and being reprimanded for was breaking the unwritten rule of no kicking in the “fast” lane–despite my kick enabling me to pass most of the other swimmers. Speed was not the problem, but rather the example of allowing kicking, which could lead to a worse breakdown of the social systems. I was already lacking in motivation, so this was the sign I’d needed to declare my swimming done for the day.

Me, Lisa Lisa, and Stephanie captured from outside the pool fence. Ellen was too busy swimming for this photo op.

Lisa Lisa, who as you might recall lives quite nearby, had organized this get-together of stalwart pool tourists. The evening’s only newcomer to this blog was Ellen, who was diligently defending her crown as queen of the pool and polishing off her Ederle Swim training while the rest of us debated the merits of the various fights. The picture at left is courtesy of Lisa’s sister Kris, who stopped by a locked gate with her kids to wave hello. (Due to the pool’s issues, I was not allowed to take any pictures myself.)

Issues aside, what struck me the most here was the highly visible setting. The looming presence of some of Manhattan’s biggest apartment complexes (Waterside Plaza, Stuyvestant Town), hospitals (VA, Bellevue), streets, and highways mean that an incredibly large number of eyeballs could be gazing upon this pool at any time. Considering that proximity of populace, it was surprisingly uncrowded.

Another notable feature was the pool’s shape. Trapezoid, anyone? The “fast” lane was longer on its southern end than its northern end, and the other two lanes were even shorter depending on which direction you were swimming. Whatever prompted this odd shape did not sway the builders from adding lines on the bottom, however, and I was glad for that. Black lines are not common enough in Parks outdoor pools, an issue Lisa Lisa plans to address via a bequest if not sooner.

Side note: Andrew has developed an ingenious, portable replacement for the missing black line in the 100-meter Crotona Park pool. I benefited from it during a recent morning visit, and it works great! Many seeming issues are solvable with a little gumption.

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