New York, Go Swimming! NYC Public Pools Review

JUNE 26, 2013 UPDATE! Yes, ALL pools open tomorrow including McCarren Park Pool. They are free for all and you don’t even need I.D to visit them (just a padlock and a bathing suit!) Read further for a link to all NYC public pools and more info…


In a city where the relentless wheel of gentrification seems to tirelessly and remorselessly roll on, its public pools are an especially welcome relief.

Open for business on June 29 (must be a budget thing since lord knows they’d have been welcome weeks if not months ago), they’re just one great freebie in a town that does more for its non-yuppie population than some might realize.

Open from 11am-7pm daily, the pools all have strict, draconian rules that one MUST abide by if they wish to participate (no cell phones or other electronics on deck and mandatory possession of a padlock are the two biggest) and they close from 3-4pm each day for cleaning. Basically, that’s all you need to know.

A comprehensive list of the cities’ pools, conveniently listed by borough,  has a phone number for each so if you’re a lap swimmer you may want to call ahead and get the times when it’s roped off for lapping. At any other time you will find swimming around the masses of frolicking kids and their moms a tad challenging, if possible at all.

Who frequents the pools? Well, it’s worth noting that the first two weekdays I arrived I was the only cracker in the vicinity, with the exception of a lifeguard. This changed my first weekend day but generally Whitey is in the minority here, even at the UES pool discussed below.

Some may take offense at me mentioning this but it’s a concrete detail, a real aspect of the pool and its environment and something that may make the sensitive or panty-waisted uncomfortable, just as one might be if the other swimmers were all Orthodox Jews or Hispanic. It’s basic human nature: We feel vulnerable and self-conscious when we’re different from everyone else. This of course doesn’t bother SuperDuperDad in the slightest, since he is an intrepid explorer and courageous adventurer, but hey, you might be a complete wimpster.

I’ve been to several of the city’s free and open public pools but the one I’m referring to is in Commodore Barry Park, which is between Flushing and Park Ave. in Clinton Hill, and the one now closest to my apartment.

In the past I’ve enjoyed the Red Hook Recreation Area pool, a giant sprawling city block of a space where, according to the city’s website, legendary gangster Al Capone began his career. Having to get in the car and hit the forever traffic-snarled BQE was always a con, but since I was dating a barista at the deeply missed Lonelyville Cafe in Park Slope, I was in the area fairly frequently anyway.

Nestled on the Upper East Side mere feet from my Dad’s apartment and the FDR, John Jay Park’s got a superb albeit smaller pool, plus a swell park with sandbox adjoining it. The diving board also adds tremendous fun.

As for Commodore Barry Park…

Well, when it comes to pools, proximity is the number one draw in my book and the CBP is perfectly placed at the 2 mile mark of my running route. Actually, true perfection would be if it were at the END of my run but since it’s about 2 miles from the SuperDuperDad Manor, where I of course like to end up, that would be difficult to achieve.

So on a scalding broiler like today I’ll hit the first 2 miles hard, knock out 3 sets of pull-ups in the small park on the way before diving into pure refreshment in the cool waters. On the way back I’ll often pop into Fresh Fanatic for an omelette and a superb Stumptown iced coffee before sauntering home, thoughtful and relaxed.

Today, as I trotted back across Park Avenue heading home, one of the hulking storage facilities on the block suddenly cast a shade over me and a soft breeze carried a touch of perfume, suddenly engulfing me in the reverie of a memory of a girl long gone. The breeze, the sun… all was just right and as I re-entered the land of Hasidim children with their cascading curls, staring at me as if I were an alien as I stretched my calves against a lamppost, I had to laugh.

I’ll always be an outcast. But if anyplace makes an outcast feel at home, it’s NYC.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  Free swimming?! Whaddaya think, dude?!

Details:  DON’T FORGET PADLOCK. And carrying it in plain sight helps facilitate entrance. Also don’t forget that all pools close from 3-4pm for cleaning. It IS possible to smuggle your phone in but if spotted you will be asked to leave.


2 Responses to “New York, Go Swimming! NYC Public Pools Review”

  1. 1 ilicia glover May 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    hi my name is ilicia to know if you dont live there. can you still could be a the pool. or no

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