40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

Closed for Renovations – John Jay College Pool

on January 6, 2018

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

Cheers theme song

John Jay College Pool is–or was–my pre-work happy place, where I was guaranteed to see friends, laugh, vent, continue conversations from week to week and season to season, and always be glad I came. Here we effortlessly sorted ourselves into lanes, trading the lead and adjusting intervals without need for discussion, as only long-term swim mates can do. We also traded cookies, books, gossip, even bathing suits (mostly too-small hand-me-downs to Lisa Lisa and Piezy). The community here supported each other through sporting endeavors and also, simply by being there, through career ups and downs, sickness and health, births and deaths, and other life changes.

This is not to downplay the pool’s issues: bugs on deck, the non-working suit spinner and wringer, inconsistent water and deck temperature, periods of chemical imbalance and lifeguard unreliability, pieces of the ceiling falling onto swimmers, faded lane markings, uncleanable “white” boards, menacing hair balls, malodorous locker rooms, and broken lane lines are among the things we grumbled about. Nonetheless, these were far outweighed by the convenience and luxury of having the whole pool to ourselves before work two mornings a week.

My team’s history here is as old as the pool itself, dating to 1990, and this is where I first sampled TNYA in the early 2000s. Through December, we held about 9 swim practices here weekly, along with synchro and polo sessions, taking over all five lanes each time. Thus, the long-threatened and now actual closure of John Jay as of this week is a seismic jolt.

JJ website screen shot

Much has changed in the area since 1990. The neighborhood, and Hells Kitchen to the south, have gone from dicey to high-end, the college has expanded through the rest of the block and been surrounded by Citi Bike stations, the hospital across the street has been taken over by a conglomerate, the nearby breakfast options have multiplied, a subway line going from my apartment to this part of town has opened, and the pool was overdue for refreshing. The nascent rehabilitation holds the promise of “new tile work in and around the pool, new mechanical systems including the pool chlorination system, a new ceiling and lighting and renovated locker rooms.” (Confession: I left behind a swim suit, slightly hidden, as a test to see just how thoroughly the locker room is renovated.)

TNYA’s leadership has diligently sourced other pool options, though none as convenient or capacious at the crack of dawn. The team is hoping that the work will only take a year, which is hardly a nanosecond in the CUNY-verse, but the college has quoted its swimmers a period twice as long. Either way, I already miss John Jay terribly and would return to the hairball-infested, overly chlorinated water in an instant if only I could.

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5 responses to “Closed for Renovations – John Jay College Pool

  1. Joe Carasso says:

    It sounds like a great place for you. I hope it re-opens sooner rather than later. I hear the jcc is not bad.

  2. lola says:

    I can tell you this much, that swimsuit wont be found. They have torn down the whole pool area including all the walls and lockers. It is going to be a completely new place. They also closed a section of the 9/11 memorial which overlooked into the pool area.

  3. David Handelman says:

    I sympathize having lived through one reno at Hansborough. Do you have a reopen date yet? My work is near there and I’d like to sample it — but office will move in March to Hudson Yards, which may have its own pool for all I know, (but who wants to share locker room with coworkers).

    On a related note for your future blog, I found out last weekend that the Central Park Conservancy is in preliminary stages of a complete rethink of Lasker, *my* special neighborhood place (two months a year). While I agree that it’s a hellish facility from the outside and the locker room is decrepit, I always enjoyed the actual lapswim as a respite from urbanity, and from the sounds of their plan, it could take 3 years to fully accomplish, which would seem an eternity.

    • Hannah says:

      The reopen date is farther intlpo the future than your move to Hudson Yards. I heard about the Lasker plan last summer from one of the guards who also swims at Riverbank. It affects the rinks too. Maybe they’ll offer early bird at Marcus Garvey and night owl at Thomas Jefferson when the time comes.

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