40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#92: Pound Ridge Town Pool

Pound Ridge pool complexLocation: Pound Ridge, Westchester, New York

Configuration: 6 x 25 meters in the lap pool

Fee: Guest of resident

The Pound Ridge Town Pool is one of those places that feels disconnected from the world, as if the sky here were perpetually blue and the water the same, just the right temperature, and never crowded. If you are able to get in either by being a resident or a resident’s guest, you can swim, lounge, eat, socialize, and play table tennis and air hockey here to your heart’s content.

10 pass guest card

me and dad

Me and my dad.

I visited with my friend Naomi and her mother, Ethel, over Labor Day weekend. A regular all summer, Ethel had three guest visits left on her pool card, and she kindly shared them with the two of us and my dad. We chose partially shaded lounge chairs by the nearly empty lap pool and whiled away a couple of hours. At some point a pool pal of Ethel’s joined us. I swam just 1,000 meters, realizing in the process that the pool was a wee bit longer than 25 yards. The rest of our group did some laps too, some for the first time in years and years. That’s how otherworldly the experience was!

The lap pool is also the diving and competition pool. Just two lane lines were in, but the lifeguards kindly let us overflow into the rest of the pool as needed, even though it was signed as closed. No problems here. Most other people frolicked in the shallow pool and lounged closer to the snack bar.

Naomi’s family moved here when she was in elementary school. She swam here in the summers during her childhood but hadn’t been back for ages. Still, she was able to find some names she recognized in the trophy case. The 1970s high dive records would seem to be especially secure given that the high dive has been removed. Back in the day, she said, there was always a long line for the high dive and people really got the business if they didn’t jump. Somehow I can’t imagine anyone getting the business here now.

 trophy case

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#78: Lewisboro Town Pool

the long viewLocation: South Salem, New York

Configuration: 6 25-yard lanes for lap swimming; also option for 6 50-meter yard lanes

Fee: Oops, was I supposed to pay?

Had I known about the Lewisboro Town Pool during the two summers I lived nearby, it would have been my hangout. Somehow I only learned about it now, half a lifetime later, and it’s still a delightful discovery.

DSCN1359_lewisboroUnlike New York City outdoor pools, which embrace all lined-swimsuit-wearing, lock-carrying masses yearning to swim free, Westchester County keeps a tight grip on who gets in. At least that’s what they’d like you to think. My dad, a Lewisboro resident, was confident about our chances, but I was prepared for the worst after reading the fee and ID requirements in the local paper. I needn’t have worried. We took the road less traveled on the way in and unwittingly bypassed the entry gate entirely. It wasn’t until we were leaving that we figured out the error of our ways, and we chose not to set the score straight this time. Dad hadn’t even swum, after all, and I didn’t want to risk being denied entry after already swimming!

me, Larry, BillThe 25-yard end of the pool was dedicated to lap swimming, and the etiquette seemed to be each to his own. Seeing my shadow ripple across the pool bottom through the clear water reminded me of the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center, which also has the luxury of space.

My swim buddies–in their own lanes–were my dad’s friend Larry (standing at right) and his friend Bill (in the water), both of whom are regulars. Other patrons on this Friday afternoon included day campers and off-duty lifeguards. Little kids splashed in the play pool, and fearless divers practiced from the high dive in a pool of their own. Dad cheered us on from the side and happily joined me for après-swim ice cream.

Meanwhile, neighbors are coveting the pool. New Canaan, a nearby Connecticut town that even Westchester people describe as extremely wealthy, is in search of pool space during its YMCA pool renovations. The Y has offered to at least temporarily winterize the Lewisboro pool–by installing a heated bubble and upgrading the open-air locker rooms–in order to have the pool at its behest. According to poolside gossip, the project is out to bid and may well happen, in which case Lewisboro could end up coveting its own pool. After the New Canaanites return across the border, Lewisboro would have to decide what to keep. Here’s hoping the bubble still has a way in for scofflaws!

Larry, me, and dad

Larry, me, and dad with the dive pool behind us.

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#50: Rye YMCA Brookside Pool

Weekend WarriorsLocation: Rye, New York

Configuration: 6 lanes of 25 yards

Fee: Free as guest of member

Fees to Date: $191.87

My enthusiastic follow-up on JGH’s pool suggestions brought me to the Rye Y last Sunday morning to swim with the “weekend warriors,” an informal, testosterone-heavy group of mostly former collegiate swimmers. They swam a challenging workout for an hour or so starting right when the pool opened and then went on with their days.

how to increase your quality of lifeAs I overheard in the locker room later, where I was incognito as a visiting warrior, they are not beloved by other Y members due to the turbulence they create. By my observation, they used the space very efficiently, considerately leaving the rest of the pool free for civilian lap swimmers.

Their pool–new in 2003–is lovely, a standard 6-laner with light from large windows on two sides piercing the pool with sunbeams. Add in a friendly lifeguard who writes messages like the one at right and the typical YMCA homeyness, and you have a nice place to swim. As at many Ys, there’s a separate teaching pool (theirs dates to 1955), leaving the Brookside pool mainly for the enjoyment of lap swimmers.

view from the deep endOne locker room innovation that I haven’t seen elsewhere is the placement of the suit spinner: built into the counter between two sinks. This puts it by both a drain and a power source and avoids an unsightly outcropping from the wall. Other facilities should take note.

The “Brookside” name refers to Rye Brook right alongside the parking lot. It’s so prone to flooding that the Y installed floodgates for protection, and they worked well in the recent storm, allowing the Y to reopen and welcome in community members soon after the storm passed.

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#9: Hommocks Pool

Hommocks Pool skylight over the middle of the poolLocation: Mamaroneck, New York

Fee: Free with guest pass, otherwise $10 in the company of a permit-holding member

Configuration: 16 lanes of 25 yards

Total to Date: $55.33

It was a good week for skylights. I traveled up to Mamaroneck today to go for a swim with Westchester John. The venue was Hommocks Pool, adjacent to Mamaroneck Middle School and used by many local schools and teams. As you can see, there’s a huge skylight over the part of the pool where we swam, and I’m told that in the summer it opens up to let the sun shine in directly. (Hmmm, I wonder if that’s the case at Met Pool, too.)

The Hommocks area, named by sailors who spotted small hills along the marshy shore here, now includes a 7.6-acre conservation area with woodland, meadow, and salt marsh. John grew up nearby and remembers visiting the site when it was a dump. Once it got turned into a pool, the dump’s legacy made itself known as the landfill settled under the weight of the water, causing problems like tiles popping out and concrete beams shifting. Some of those issues cut into his high school swim time, but now they are distant memories, and John watched the next generation enjoy the pool, including his son’s high school swim team.

It’s a neat facility, with 16 lanes that were being used for a variety of purposes today. Don’t let the lack of lanes lines fool you; we did our laps right here parallel to the diving boards, each of us following our own line on the bottom and joined for a while by John’s friend Ed. Instead of having a deep end, this pool has a deep middle. There are eight lanes in this section, abutting shallow ends of four lanes each. Scuba practice and family rec were some of the other activities under way. It’s a BYO facility, without accessories such as pull-buoys and kickboards available for use. The pace clock wasn’t even turned on, so we had to guess how fast we were going. As is common at multiuse pools, the water was rather warm.

John is training for his first solo Manhattan Island Marathon Swim under the mostly virtual tutelage of Lance (my Palladium swim partner), who had provided a challenging 5,000+ yard workout. I hadn’t anticipated how this project would enable me to glom onto other people’s workouts, and it’s a nice perk.

John demonstrates how he used to gain access to the poolBack before the glass skylight was built, the pool roof was wide open in the summer and proved quite enticing to certain local youth. As John demonstrated, they could hop up a wall by the parking lot and then climb onto the roof to access the opening. The town added metal fencing to deter this type of activity, visible at left.

After the swim, we headed to downtown Mamaroneck for excellent Sicilian pizza and gelato, joined by Richard, who had tales of other local pools I may get to visit.

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