40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

Ederle-Burke Swim 2021: Worth the Wait

Location: Battery Park, NY to Sandy Hook, NJ
Distance: 16.1 miles
~Featuring~
Tandem swim partner: Abby
Paddlers: Ilene and Sharon
Crew: Ed and Manami
Boat captain: Sean
Event director: Rondi (New York Open Water)

This swim report starts long before the event date of Wednesday, October 6, 2021: possibly when I got smitten with marathon swimming in 2007; or when I attempted the Ederle Swim on October 20, 2009; or when, sometime in the second half of 2020 on the BQE, Abby and I nonchalantly agreed to seek a 2021 tandem entry for Ederle-Burke, as it’s now known*. (Tandem rules require swimmers to stay within 5 meters of each other at all times and share the same finish time.) We barely discussed it, but I knew that our compatible paces, our quiet reliability, and her unflappable nature would make for a completely different swim than my multisensory experience more than a decade ago. I decided to make this my early 50th birthday present to myself. Neither of us knew on that BQE moment — or when we officially signed up in January 2021, choosing a fast tide in consultation with Rondi — that this swim would also turn out to be Abby’s farewell to New York.

I’m not the most prolific swimmer, but I’ve done a number of marathon swims in the Hudson in the intervening years, some difficult by my standards, all successfully completed. Not before or since my 2009 attempt had I failed to finish an open water event, and this really ate away at me as I ramped up my training. Also in the intervening 12 years, I’d witnessed many others complete Ederle, serving as a boat observer numerous times including for some of the current record-holders and even volunteering as a paddler once. I’ve probably witnessed this swim more than anyone else, ever; such is its allure for me. I found it incredibly humbling to work toward something that hadn’t worked out as hoped without any guarantees for the repeat. (In marathon swimming, even being able to start is not a given!) Happily, I came to feel truly appreciative of the opportunity to try and of the journey involved in training and planning, pandemic complications notwithstanding.

group photo - 9 swimmers all bundled up
The 2009 Ederle Swim field, with Eileen Burke to my right. Like me, she didn’t finish that year, but three of these hardy souls did!

In the months and weeks leading up to this attempt, it was constantly in my thoughts, as in, “I hope I make a full recovery from Covid so I can do the swim.” “I hope I don’t get hit by a car today because that wouldn’t be good for my swim.” “I hope there’s not a hurricane because that could ruin the swim.” (Due to NYOW’s busy schedule, we did not have a backup date.) But actually, doing my longest training swim in crazy rip currents along Fire Island while a September hurricane churned offshore from Canada boosted my confidence immeasurably. Abby was tackling many other swims this summer and fall and had already become stateless in advance of her move to California, so we weren’t training together. Finding adequate pool time in a pandemic required constant hustle, and I felt lonely at times.

This lonely training gave me plenty of time to reflect on “Trudy” Ederle, Eileen Burke, and other strong women who’d influenced my life: especially my aunt Alice Ann, an ardent follower of my exploits, who got taken by cancer in March; and my mother, who supported me at countless swims from her former home base in Poughkeepsie, and who now has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home in Pennsylvania where I hadn’t been able to see her for more than an hour at a time since early 2020. I felt their spirits encouraging me and decided to dedicate my swim to them.

photo of mom and m
2009 – Me and mom before the swim at North Cove.

Revisiting my 2009 race report a few weeks out surfaced some nerves, but I comforted myself with reminders that the 2021 date would be two weeks earlier aka warmer and that the course had been tweaked to be more direct and thus about a mile shorter. Also, I’d have my ace paddler Ilene for escort and Abby with some choice words at the ready if I flagged.

me backstroking and Ilene paddling under the Verrazano
2009 – Ilene and I glide under the Verrazano.

In the days immediately preceding the swim, some of the logistics weren’t totally clear to me, and we had some personnel changes. I tried not to worry, to embrace the mantra of “Shut up and swim.” In other words, quiet the voices in your head and trust your body and your team. Truthfully, everything looked to be shaping up very well: comfortable water and air temperatures, dry conditions beforehand (preserving water quality), negligible or favorable wind, and of course the super-fast tidal assist.

A number of friends came to our boat loading at Pier 40, likewise to see us off at the Battery at the very civilized start time of 10 a.m. (though I’d told them the wrong pier), and later even to watch from south Brooklyn! I was glad to have them as part of the adventure together with our trusty crew and boat support.

group photo
Pier 40 boat loading fun: (l-r) Sharon, Ilene, Lisa Lisa, Neil, me, Abby, Kerith, and John.

So, finally, the swim? In all honesty, we got off easy. For all that I’d built up in my head, it was anticlimactic in terms of difficulty. In terms of fun, it topped the charts; I ended up feeling happy that I hadn’t finished in 2009 because our day was so awesome!

There was light chop in the harbor as we took off from the Battery and swam through Buttermilk Channel and then past the Statue of Liberty. Abby and I weren’t totally in synch, and I was struggling a bit trying to see her on one side and Ilene on the other. Ilene and I conferred at the first feed and agreed that she’d keep me on track so I could just shut up and swim.

On a work field trip in August I’d learned about a harbor cam. I sent the link out before the swim hoping that people would be able to see us on the live feed. It worked! The operator even zoomed in on our curious flotilla, and my young nephews in California watched us swimming as they got ready for school. One of them observed, “Hannah’s famous!”

harbor cam screen shot - US Army Corps of Engineers boat, tug and barge, and us
Thanks to Matt for this still from the harbor cam as we passed between large vessels.

Around the time of this screen grab, we had to halt for a few minutes to allow the tug and barge to pass. I got cold and crampy during this pause and didn’t really warm up for another hour or so. It was during this cold stretch that I thought most about Ederle and her famous response, “What for?” when asked during her English Channel swim if by chance she wanted to stop.

The water was free of debris much of the way, save for a patch off Bay Ridge that included a Christmas tree! In contrast to my 2009 swim, it also seemed very quiet. Instead of noises from boats and construction, Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity” was my mental soundtrack. (Listen to it here, particularly around 1:45 and 3:00; it’s a piece I’d grown fond of thanks to listening to WQXR while working from home). What we did have were swarm upon swarm of nonstinging jellyfish, making for chunky-style water sometimes more jelly than liquid. We’d hit a clear patch every now and then, and I’d think we’d finally gotten through the jellies, only to encounter even more a few strokes later.

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a huge part of the course’s allure for me, and I loved having company at this moment. “Jupiter” practically blasted in my head as Abby and I backstroked under the elegant arch with our paddlers alongside. I was so focused on staying in synch that I didn’t even notice the giant ship passing in the other direction.

photo: Verrazano, shop, kayaks, support boats
Thanks to Kerith for this shoreside pic of us approaching the bridge and a ship I didn’t even see.

After the bridge we hit the choppiest water of the day. It had a somewhat hypnotic effect on me, though I did still pay attention to Ilene’s directions. When she told me to turn to close a gap, I dutifully swam sideways with my head down and ran right into what I thought was a mermaid. Truly, that was my first thought. Only the colorful nail polish on Abby’s toes sparked the realization that mermaids don’t have toes and therefore it must be Abby – who practically qualifies as a mermaid.

We got into a good rhythm from that point on – Abby having completed her requisite hours-long warm-up – and continued cruising past more buoys, islands, and lighthouses. Though slowing a bit, the current was still giving us a helpful boost.

Sandy Hook Channel is always a challenge. As we approached, we were getting somewhat conflicting information about our ETA. When offered an extra feed just in case, I was glad to accept and then put my head back down, shut up, and swim.

This may sound silly but the finish I’d worked toward for so long came unexpectedly. The water was murky, and the depth changed from 20 feet to 1 foot within about one stroke, so I touched bottom before I saw it. Were we really there? I caught a tiny wave to push me in and upright and kicked out a final leg cramp to stand on the beach! Our finish time was just under 5:00 hours, much shorter than my 2009 attempt.

While Manami captured video footage from the boat, Ed had swum in to photograph the moment and deliver Abby’s traditional finish beverage: a shandy! (She is such a fan that her phone would always try to auto-correct the spelling of our destination to Shandy Hook.) She and I both drank up. An experienced channel crosser, she directed me to choose a souvenir shell.

Hannah and Abby with shandies, Sharon and Ilene in kayaks in the background
Shandy Hook finish!

From there it was back onto the boats, kayaks and all, and then to a marina where crew and boats alike exited the water. Also pulling out there were fishermen we’d passed at the start of our day. All of this took place without shivering or other issues. (I mistakenly left my shell on a picnic table we used when changing.) From there we rode in cars to Atlantic Highlands, rehydrated some more, and sat on the upper deck of the fast ferry back to Manhattan. Passing under the bridge once again filled me with awe. It always will.

Abby left for California the next day, and now I’m about to reach the birthday I used as my excuse for the swim. Visiting the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center recently reminded me of my debt to this incredible trailblazer. We are fortunate to be surrounded by swimmable waters and such a supportive swim community.

Results, 1913-present: https://www.nyopenwater.org/historical-ederle-swim-results/

*

From swim organizer New York Open Water:
The swim is named for two pioneering women in the sport of marathon swimming. Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle swam this course in 1925 in 7 hours and 11 minutes. According to family lore, her nephew Bob described this swim as a “midnight frolic,” and a “warm-up” for her swim across the English Channel. The following year, Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel on August 6, 1926 in 14 hours and 36 minutes.

Eighty-five years later, an energetic teacher named Eileen Burke jumped into the water off Battery Park on a raw October morning, and stood on the shores of Sandy Hook 5 hours and 45 minutes later. Eileen was drawn to this swim’s history, the challenge of swimming such a distance in October, and like Trudy Ederle, use it to train for the channel. While Eileen didn’t make it to the shores of France in 2012, she harnessed the disappointment to become the first woman to swim the 20-mile P2P swim across Cape Cod Bay.

In 2013, Eileen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She did not let the pain of chemotherapy get in the way of her dedication to her family and the open water community. She participated in a relay swim around Manhattan with her swimming partner and friend Mo Siegel in 2014, served on the board of the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS), and was a constant volunteer and smiling face at CIBBOWS and NYC Swim events.

On October 3, 2015, Eileen passed away peacefully at home, leaving behind her beloved husband David, a daughter Ann Marie, and a large hole in the open water swimming community. We hope that this swim will continue to serve her legacy as a friend and mentor to all swimmers.

screen shot of our course tracker
Screen shot of our course tracker, which was on Sharon’s kayak.
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Some City Pools Open, Finally

south end of Astoria Park Pool

Lap swim area at Astoria Park Pool.

Within the past week, all of the city outdoor pools that are going to open have opened — a total of 15. All of the regular park rules and procedures are in place. This means that, unlike at the state pools, indoor lockers and showers are being used — so be sure to bring your lock. In addition, there are social distance procedures and mask requirements.

I’ve visited K-Poo[l] and Astoria and am pleased to report that a lap swim area is available at the latter. According to a lifeguard I asked, it will always be sectioned off. Enjoy!

I was at Astoria yesterday, opening day, and found the water visibility to be low, likely due to a chemical imbalance. Otherwise it was delightful, and there were even lounge chairs available in the filled-in diving pool. Astoria also has the benefit of extremely spacious locker rooms with very high ceilings and excellent ventilation. Pool capacity, even with COVID reductions in place, is over 1,500.

There’s more than a month of outdoor pool season left. Summer is as steamy as ever, and it’s great to finally have more places to cool off.

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#105: Roberto Clemente State Park

RCSP pool and deckLocation: Morris Heights, Bronx, New York

Configuration: 50 meters by 25 yards

Fee: $2

This state-run outdoor pool opened in early July. Unlike its Manhattan cousin, Riverbank, Roberto Clemente State Park pool does not have designated lap swim times. However, on a quiet day you can swim to your heart’s content. My summer pool buddy Alex was having good swims up there, so at his urging I ventured north on Saturday, July 11, arriving for the 9:30 opening and knocking out 5,000 short course yards. Even though the temperature was in the upper 80s, the pool was empty enough that I had barely any interference. Toward the end of my swim I moved to the far (south) end where there aren’t black lines to follow, but there was a seam that kept me straight as I crossed the long course markings. I was thrilled.

Post-swim selfie

How happy was I after 5,000?!

More recently, I’ve heard that the pool is not always staffed enough to open fully, and that the turnout has been higher, so be warned that you might not get your laps in.

Even so, it’s a nice place to hang out with spacious bleachers, a snack bar and picnic tables right off the pool deck, and entertainment in the form of fearless youngsters in the diving pool and spray park.

Hand and wirstband

The magic wristband. Pro tip: put it on tight so it doesn’t bug you when you swim.

There are many concessions to the pandemic. For one, make very sure that you arrive with your bathing suit on and that you’ll be able to show it easily more than once. (Actually, that might happen anyway.) The changing rooms are closed, and the showers are on the deck. Only if you have to use a toilet do you go inside. Your entry fee gets you a wristband that is snipped when you leave: only one entry per session. Hours are reduced from the normal summer schedule to 9:30-1:00 and 2:30-6:00. You’re not supposed to bring a bag, although I did and so did the people who entered in front of me. The wading pool is not opening.

Roberto Clemente statue

This statue by the entrance, whose sponsor I am not endorsing, gives a glimpse of the park’s scenic Harlem River-front location. Swindler cover in Manhattan is across the way.

This park, which abuts the Bronx’s tallest buildings — the nearly 1,700-unit River Park Towers housing complex — was the state’s first within New York City, opening in 1973. Soon named for the famed baseball player who died young in a plane crash during a humanitarian trip in 1972, it has been renovated and refreshed in intervening years. North of the pool complex is a lovely waterfront area that serves multiple purposes: greenway, passive and active recreation space, wildlife habitat, flood mitigation, and rainwater filtration. I also found it to be a fine changing area to get out of my wet suit before the ride home.

If you are coming here by bike from the south, note that online mapping directions have you use the Major Deegan service road. Do not get on the actual expressway. (Right, Brad?) A later stretch along the waterfront brings you to a parking garage that seems to have no way out, but miraculously a gate will open and deposit you by the pool. Enjoy.

Another view of the pool

The diving well is at upper right. I didn’t go up there — it opened late into my visit — but bet it has a great view.

Spray zone

Who doesn’t love a giant spray park?

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Not a Pool: Onteora Lake

Onteora Lake, looking north

If you find yourself in Ulster County looking for a lake to swim that’s not Minnewaska, here’s the spot: Onteora Lake, a few miles west of Kingston. I met three NYOW swimmers here one Saturday morning at the end of a short June vacation in the area, and another swimmer happened to be already in the water when we started. Other than us human vessels, human-powered fishing boats and slow-moving electric ones were the only other craft in the lake. The fishers mostly hugged the shore, leaving the middle clear for swimming. We stuck together and switched off between easy swimming and upping the effort for set numbers of strokes. Phew.

Onteora Lake looking south, with fishing boats

This skinny, kilometer-long lake must have heated up due to recent warm temps; it’s less than 20 feet deep. We could see flowers along the edges and some interesting bird life. Part of Bluestone Wild Forest (in the Catskills), it felt quite remote except for the sounds of the the nearby highway at the south end. It was also quite silty both to taste and in my bathing suit, turning my post-swim shower briefly into a mudbath.

Should any nonswimming companions join you, they can hike or bike on trails around the lake and beyond. Parking is easy in a lot off the highway or farther in the same access road right by the lake. We left our things by a picnic table and no one paid them any mind. There’s no schedule or lifeguard, meaning you can come and go as you please — a particularly important feature during this darn pandemic.

 

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103 and 104: The Club at the Claremont

lounge area within poolLocation: Oakland, California

Configuration: One 25-meter pool, one 25-yard pool, plus hot tub and kiddie pool

Fee: Members and hotel guests only

Here’s a throwback Thursday look at an incredible facility in the Bay Area.

I was graciously permitted to join in a masters practice at the Claremont during a trip in February. While this hotel and club rightly boasts “rich history and elegance since 1915,” what now qualifies this post for throwback status is the facility’s temporary but lengthening closure, since late March, due to COVID-19.

north wing of the Claremont Hotel

Here’s the north wing of the hotel and, to its left, the club and spa areas I visited.

This castle-esque structure sits on a hill rising out of Oakland and Berkeley, and I’d long admired it from afar. A couple of years ago, an East Coast friend was going to be staying there right after I was in the area, so I dropped off something for her at the hotel desk and got a quick peak around the grounds. Pool coveting ensued.

For my February trip, I looked at splurging on a stay at the Claremont but dithered and the rates shot up — and I was happy to end up at the Berkeley City Club instead. The Claremont website clearly states that visitors aren’t allowed at the Club, which includes the pool, but just in case I reached out to the masters coach. After a while I received approval to join a practice on Valentine’s Day! What’s more, the workout would be coached by Suzie, a fellow open water lover I came to know years ago.

training pool

Training pool.

Thrilled that my name was on the manager’s list, I ascended Claremont Avenue and walked through the parking area to the spa. Check-in was an exercise in agreement: Would I be using the towels and locker room? Would I like a robe? Yes, yes, yes!

On Suzie’s advice, I’d arrived a bit early, so I stretched out a bit in the 25-meter pool in my own lane, of course. Over in the 25-yard pool for the masters practice, I enjoyed the company of jocular swimmers and Suzie’s technique-focused workout. Both pools were crystal clear saline, with a minor temperature variation between the two. They had digital pace clocks and plenty of gear, plus a hot tub for apres swim.

view from the pool deck

The view on the pool deck.

It’s hard to say what I liked best, but it just might be the view. From the training pool, you looked into a wooded residential area. From the deck, it was down into Berkeley and out toward San Francisco Bay. My photos don’t do any of it justice. Had I not been meeting my brother and family at a delicious bakery nearby soon after my swim, I could have easily enjoyed a long, comfy, umbrella-shaded lounge on the deck.

Months later, we have no idea when previously common activities like cross-country travel will resume, let alone indulgences like luxury resorts. Thanks for the memories.

 

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Excelsior: NYC’s State-Run Outdoor Pools Open

Roberto Clemente State Park pool

Roberto Clemente State Park pool, August 2008.

Hallelujah, the outdoor pools at Riverbank State Park in West Harlem (Manhattan) and Roberto Clemente State Park in Morris Heights (Bronx) opened with scant notice today! Both are offering two daily, ticketed rec swim sessions. Our beloved stalwart Riverbank will also have two one-hour lap swim sessions in the morning seven days a week starting Monday. Preregistration is required for those slots and is only available to current card-holders; I got the instructions this afternoon and hope I make the cut for two doses of chlorine next week.

Pool addicts have a commuting challenge in store: Both facilities are operating without locker rooms; as I suggested early on in this darn pandemic, so swimmers have to arrive dressed to swim with little else. Riverbank has limited outdoor showers and restrooms, and one hopes Roberto Clemente does too. Masks are required for everyone out of the water, and no bags can be left on deck. I look forward to the fashion creativity that emerges from these constraints.

Riverbank’s outdoor pool is a standard 6 lanes x 25 yards. Roberto Clemente’s is much bigger — probably 25 meters x 50 meters. My notes from my only visit there, in 2008, comment on its beautiful location on the east shore of the Harlem River and its red lines on the bottom. (It’s been renovated since, so perhaps the color of the lane markings has changed.) My party of four had the entire place to ourselves, and I bet that will be possible in the morning hours later in the summer. Judging from the park website, it now has a fantastic-looking splash zone too.

Capacity will be reduced from pre-COVID limits to facilitate social distancing. I’m sure the pools will be very popular and appreciated this hot holiday weekend. As summer stretches on, my prediction is that attendance will taper off, making a trip to the pool more of a sure thing.

The more scientists and medical experts figure out about COVID, the greater the evidence that outdoor swimming is safe and physical fitness is beneficial. Let’s all do our part to keep our time at the pool out of the water safe as well, and please be sure to thank the lifeguards, attendants, managers, and other people who are staffing and sanitizing the facilities.

Finally, a word of thanks to the Empire State for providing this vital cooling and social infrastructure! The full list of newly open state outdoor pools is here. Ever upward.

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Summer Is Saved? One Month Until Pools

Welcome to K-PoolSummer has heated up, and there’s finally some relief in sight. The city’s beaches all gain lifeguards tomorrow, and in another month we’ll have some pools! The announcement promises 15 by August 1, but wouldn’t it be nice if those were lowball figures? And maybe since we’re getting a late start, the pools can stay open into the fall?

The promised watering holes span a diverse collection of neighborhoods in the five boroughs and include some 40 Pool favorites:

However, it’s also missing some other favorites including many of the city’s biggest pools that would best accommodate social distancing. Thomas Jefferson, Lasker, and Red Hook, I’m thinking of you.

If the full complement of pools serves almost 2 million New Yorkers, we can expect that having fewer than a third of the total available for about half the season will only cool off a few hundred thousand of us — and cost around $2 million or .2 percent of the NYPD budget reduction. I hope we can do better than that.

Look for more details from the city tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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#101: Kelly Pool

lawn + pool

Location: Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Configuration: 50 meters with 3 lap lanes during my visit; 8 lanes total

Fee: Free

I’d long been wanting to visit a public pool in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has the country’s highest outdoor pool-to-resident ratio (1:21,600 versus 1:150,000 in New York, according to the New York Times), and a higher total count of pools than New York despite having just a fraction the population. Their season starts earlier in June than ours (though it also ends earlier), and as is the case in New York, Philly’s outdoor public pools are free for all comers.

My anticipated end-of-summer weekend getaway to Philly turned out to coincide with a family emergency that would reshape my fall, yet somehow I still did most of the trip and got in some precious moments of outdoor lap swimming on a Sunday afternoon. Kelly Pool had the honors for this important mental-health duty, chosen based on a recommendation from Philadelphia’s pool blogger, who cited it both for its lap lane availability and its expansive lawn.

pool deck, museum in background

More remarkable to me was that we could just walk onto said lawn without showing our bathing suit liners and locks or submitting to a search for contraband items such as newspapers and colored T-shirts, as is necessary at New York City’s public pools. The only delay was that the pool area was at capacity, so we had to wait about a minute until other people exited to be allowed in through the gate.

While just a quadrant of the pool was open for rec swim, in accordance with the lifeguard count, the three lap lanes extended the full length. Another novelty for this New Yorker was that the pool had actual lane lines corresponding to the black lines at the bottom. Interestingly, the “deep end” was in the middle of the pool, with shallow ends at both ends of the lanes.

The fellow swimmers were an eclectic bunch of chlorine addicts ranging from polite to oblivious and using all manner of gear. I enjoyed the view of the Please Touch Museum alongside the lawn. It seemed like there were changing facilities in there, but we never made it over that way because of a grumbling rumbling. About 20 minutes before closing time, we suddenly had to clear the pool and exit the lawn due to a thunder-like sound. We heard something, but the sun was out and there was so much noise in the park that we were skeptical of there actually being thunder. Still, the lifeguards were more than happy to get off a bit early.

Philadelphia Aquarium history posterThe park is a bit of a distance from the downtown area. Knowing we were short on time even without accounting for the possibility of thunder, we took a cab to get there. Heading back into town, we caught a direct bus just across the street from the park entrance. There was a lot of free parking by the pool, and correspondingly a lot of people fled to their cars when the thunder machine roared.

Earlier that same day, we happened to learn some pool history at the amazing Fairmount Water Works Museum. Kelly Pool used to be right here on the Schuylkill in the former water works building, but it was destroyed by a storm in the early 1970s. The National Historic Landmark site is now full of information about Philadelphia’s water supply and environmental stewardship — I highly recommend a visit.

Likewise, I recommend the pool. The Parks Department website is short on detail, so see the pic below for some valuable intel about when you might be able to enjoy the lane lines at Kelly Pool.

sign with pool hours

Post-thunder exodus. All photos courtesy of Neil.

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Not a Pool: TWA Hotel

rooftop pool with TWA logo and runway view

TWA Hotel pool. Photos by Gordon Gebert unless otherwise noted.

As the temperature drops this fall, I’m thinking fondly of a summertime outing taken with my coworkers on a hot day this past July. We were treated to a tour of the new TWA Hotel and the magnificent public spaces within the old TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. Our day ended with a long lunch and plenty of time for dunking up on the rooftop pool deck.

The pool is shallow and short so I didn’t even attempt to swim a lap. Rather, it’s a nice place to hang out and watch things flying around the airport and Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which in our case included birds, a gigantic swarm of dragon flies, and airplanes (seen but magically not heard).

Our tour guide told us that the pool would be open year round, though some aspects of the heating plan had yet to be determined. I’d be curious to check it out in the winter, especially if the deck also has some warm spots.

Day visitors are welcome for a fee, but there are no locker rooms and you have to leave a long list of personal items with security, making the whole experience a bit awkward. We loved the spaces and the views, had some bumps with the service just like the New York Times critic, and all agreed we’d go back in a heartbeat.

Here are some more views of the pool area and the rest of the property from this wonderfully memorable day.

table set with pool-themed accessories

Our lunch table complete with pool-themed accessories and TWA wings. Note that everything on the deck is white and there is no shade. We weren’t sure if this was because the project wasn’t completed or they don’t want guests to overstay their welcome up there. (This photo is mine.)

"Connie" on the tarmac

Architect Eero Saarinen’s creation as seen from the pool area atop one of the new hotel wings, with the “Connie” lounge inside a plane salvaged from the Honduran jungle.

three of us in the sun

Nothing says a good day at work like a pool huddle with some of your favorite coworkers. Thanks to Michael for the pic!

lobby lounge

The entire terminal is now public space, open to hotel guests and visitors alike. There’s even free wifi! Check out the beautiful former departure lounge.

departure lounge

Another view of the terminal, in all its sweeping glory.

white walls, red carpet, tunnel with a light at the end

The light at the end of the tunnel: a fantastic promenade sans harried travelers.

curvaceous concrete and bike rack

Curvaceous concrete and bike rack at the terminal entrance. (This photo is by yours truly.)

group photo in stripy room

Let’s hear it for this great team! (Photo by tour guide Kelly.)

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#100: Kosciuszko Pool

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Configuration: 3 wide lanes of 100 feet in Early Bird lap swim area; pool is 230 feet the long way

Fee: Free

The prospect of pool number 100 hung over me all year. I wanted it to be local and special, a tall order given that I’ve spent seven years ticking off other pools that fit those criteria. Happily, Parks came to my rescue by adding a Brooklyn wunderpool to the Early Bird lap swim program.

As soon as I saw Kosciuszko Pool on the list, I asked four of my favorite pool pals — all of them with 40 Pools from the beginning — to join me there for 7:00 a.m. laps one Friday early in the season. In a summer full of unexpected health issues among this cohort and our loved ones, it was extra special that we all turned up that steamy morning ready to explore a “new” pool and check out a neighborhood spot for breakfast. Kosciuszko Pool, correctly pronounced with two sh sounds but known more easily as K Pool, was perfect for the occasion.

5 of us in swimsuits

Pool and the Gang: Amanda, Lisa Lisa, me, Janet, and Piezy sneaking some post-swim pics. That’s a nice-looking shade structure and the lap area off in the distance.

What’s more, Amanda agreed to be our designated photographer, Janet gamely composed a special workout for the occasion, and they both agreed to share their work herein. Thank you Lane 2 buddies!

Check-in was smooth and professional, with Lisa Lisa coincidentally getting card number 100 — a high count given that this was just the sixth day of lap swimming. Clearly, this addition to the Early Bird program was already well appreciated. The locker rooms were roomy with a larger bench area that we are accustomed to, and the lap swim staff and fellow swimmers were welcoming. No pool rage here. (My only significant criticism was that after the swim the showers gave us just a modest trickle out of each head.)

Unlike many of the city’s massive lap pools, this one dated not from the WPA era but the 1960s. Buh-bye brick, hello concrete! Despite the change in materials, the attention to detail was just as thoughtful as the pools from 40 years prior, with Modern play sculptures and a shade overhang incorporated into the design.

Pipes and pyramid

Architect Morris Lapidus designed this play space atop the locker rooms, but the slide he created is no longer in use.

The lap area is at the far end of the pool, and regulars told us it’s even available during the day. (As of this posting date, there are two days left of lap swimming and then one more week of outdoor pools, so get there stat if you want to see for yourself.) One challenge for Janet in her workout writing is that we didn’t know ahead of time what the distance would be. It turned out to be the “short” dimension, which is 100 feet across. Three wide lane-like areas were designated slow, medium, and fast, and the acquatics specialists kept a close eye on things to prevent collisions and misanthropy. More and more swimmers piled in as the session went on, and we gazed longingly at the vast empty water beyond the lap area.

Long view of pool and bleachers

The lap area is so small and far away that you can barely see it!

The week was steamy hot, making the water in my usual Early Bird pool cloudy and warm, but K Pool was amazingly chilly — too chilly for Piezy to even stay in but perfect for me. The biggest detraction was the remnants of a chicken dinner strewn across the bottom or our lane area. Really.

This superblock of a pool was the work of Morris Lapidus, an architect who designed resort pools full of flare in places like Miami and the Caribbean. An immigrant from Russia, he grew up in Bed-Stuy, so it’s fitting that the Parks Department commissioned him for a pool in that neighborhood. Riding my bike here that early morning and then to Queens afterward, I was struck by how quickly and dramatically the neighborhoods in Brooklyn shift. Immediately surrounding the pool are low-rise residences, a school, and not much commercial activity or greenery.

The pool’s namesake, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an earlier immigrant from eastern Europe, has more than his fair share of structures named after him, including a New York bridge that reopened today. Janet incorporated colorful facts about both of these men into her commemorative workout.

With thanks again to my fellow pool tourists, here is Janet’s workout. And yes, I’ve continued to think about old Tadeusz whenever I try to do a good streamline.

Warmup: 400/533 yards (12-16 lengths). While swimming, streamline off of every wall, imagining your body as stiff and sturdy as the logs Kosciuszko used to dam rivers during the American Revolution. From Wikipedia:

The British advance force nipped hard on the heels of the outnumbered and exhausted Continentals as they fled south. Major General Philip Schuyler, desperate to put distance between his men and their pursuers, ordered Kościuszko to delay the enemy. Kościuszko designed an engineer’s solution: his men felled trees, dammed streams, and destroyed bridges and causeways. Encumbered by their huge supply train, the British began to bog down, giving the Americans the time needed to safely withdraw across the Hudson River.

Kosciuszko pool was designed by Morris Lapidus, the architect of the Fountainbleau in Miami Beach: “During an age when proper, refined American architecture was smitten by the big boxes and straight lines of such European internationalists as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Morris Lapidus was drawing curves and installing cupids in his lobbies.” Be inspired by Lapidus’s curves:
Swim 4 x 1 length, alternating lane leader—play follow the leader, making your length as curvy as the pool/crowd permits.

More Lapidus inspiration, from the Washington Post [with emphasis added by yours truly]:

It was as if American design were dominated by something like nouvelle cuisine — stark portions of food artfully arranged on an otherwise empty plate — while Lapidus was serving up great, heaping, artery-clogging slabs of triple-chocolate cake. As he put it himself: “If people like ice cream, why give them one scoop when you can give them three?” His contemporaries said “less is more,” Lapidus recalls. “And I said, less is nothing.”

So — in celebration of both of triple layers of triple chocolate cake, topped with triple scoops of ice cream, and also in celebration of Hannah’s 100th pool, let’s do
3 x (3 x 100 (i.e. 3 laps)):
          1st set: easy 100, medium 100, fast 100
          2nd set: each 100 easy-medium-fast by length
          3rd set: fast 100, medium 100, easy 100

Now back to Kosciusko: At some point in 1777, Kościuszko composed a polonaise and scored it for the harpsichord. According to Wikipedia, a polonaise rhythm goes like this:
musical notations

Let’s see if we can do 2 x 1 length kicking to this rhythm in honor of Koko.

And finally: Kosciuszko has had monuments/bridges/pools/towns named for him all over the US as well as in Europe, including his native Belarus. Do you know who was born in Kosciuszko, Mississippi? Oprah Winfrey, that’s who! Be your best swimming self as you do 6 lengths perfect stroke warmdown.

nice landscaping outside the pool complex

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