40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#63: Temescal Pool

Temescal PoolLocation: Temescal, Oakland, California

Configuration: 6 lanes x 33 1/3 yards

Fee: $5

If you blindfolded me, spun me around three times, and dropped me into an outdoor, 33-yard, saltwater pool, my first guess as to location would be California. These delightful features seem to be concentrated here, and lucky me is able to enjoy them this week during a Thanksgiving vacation.


The Temescal Pool is just a few blocks from where my brother lives, so I strolled over here on Monday for the lunchtime lap session. The lanes were well used, with four to six people in each, and everyone was very courteous. Noticing my NYC Swim cap, a lane-mate mentioned that he used to live in New York, and after a bit of chatting we realized that he used to work for my employer. Small world.

The Temescal District is a diverse, lively part of Oakland, and the pool’s uses reflect that. It serves an adjacent high school, and as the lap session was wrapping up, a CPR class was getting started. There’s also a USMS team here that I swam with once a few years ago. The lifeguard paced around the pool, a big improvement from the sitting/sleeping/texting posture that is common where I usually swim.

If only it were so easy as spinning around three times with my eyes closed, I’d be a regular here.


#62: Hostos Community College Pool

Hostos Caiman logoLocation: South Bronx, New York

Configuration: 6 lanes x 25 yards

Fee: $13.33 TNYA drop-in

Ever resourceful and adventurous, my team recently added an outpost in the Bronx: Hostos Community College. This change, made because the City College pool is likely to remain closed the entire school year, reflects both the beauty and frustrations of the City University system–the former being that so many of the campuses have pools, the latter how poorly they are maintained.

shallow end

Happily, the Hostos pool is a worthy substitute for my beloved City College, with six lanes of sparkling clear water. It dates to just 1994, when the school’s East Academic Complex was built, and recently underwent renovation, so we can hope that it still has many good years ahead. Moreover, for many of my teammates, it’s easier to get to than City College despite being across a borough line, because it is on the same block as an express subway station. Arriving via bike, I was glad that the location is just a few blocks from the 145th Street Bridge.

We had a good turnout the night of my debut swim there, last Thursday, with Coach Scott at the helm. Pool pals Janet, Audrey, and I shared a lane going on the same intervals as the boys next door. Could the water have been cooler? Yes. Better pH-balanced? Definitely. Would I go back? Of course. Can you swim here? Only with my team or if you have a Hostos affiliation, as far as I can tell.

suck it in

What’s up with the alligator on the wall, you may wonder. I thought it may have been a reference to the mythical alligators in the sewers of New York, something best not to dwell on when in a pool connected to said system. However, it turns out that the logo depicts a caiman, which became the school’s mascot in 2002.

The locker room had more lockers per square foot than I’ve ever seen, a feat accomplished by a great slimming down of usual locker dimensions. It took some muscle to get my bag jammed into the locker, and even more to get it out again later. The ratio of showers to lockers is rather skewed. Of the three showers, only one had a handle, making it the only one we could use. Next time, bring a vice grip.