Best Pools for Lap Swimming in New York City

By Alan Neuhauser on July 9, 2012 6:46am 

The pool at Brooklyn Sports Club offers lap swimming all day.
The pool at Brooklyn Sports Club offers lap swimming all day.
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Brooklyn Sports Club

NEW YORK CITY — In the citywide scramble for recreational sports real estate, few athletes have less choice than swimmers.

New York City's 8 million-plus residents share a limited amount of public and private pools, especially ones where you can swim laps. And in 2011, nearly 2 million swimmers dived into the city's public pools alone, according to the Parks Department.

"There's a clear lack of access to pools in New York City," said Christina Klapper, the marketing director at Asphalt Green, a private pool in Manhattan.

"There's a general lack of facilities. It's expensive to build a pool and run a pool and maintain a pool. So there are financial setbacks for gyms to actually build pools and run them."

Lap swimmers have it particularly tough. Many pools don’t offer lap swimming, and those that do often aren’t regulation size, provide few lap lanes, or accommodate lap swimmers only at limited and unusual times.

"Find a pool and stick with it," advised Juliana Hanford, 31, who has used lap pools in the Upper East Side, where she lives, for close to 10 years.

"I feel umbilically tied to the neighborhood because I don't want to leave my pool. If I ever want to leave, I have a list of neighborhoods with pools I can move to."

Hanford, who swam competitively at Vassar College, lauded Asphalt Green for its 50-meter Olympic-size pool and clean facilities, as well as its close-knit community of swimmers. For, as lap-lovers know, not every pool is created equal.

There are pools, and then there are "swimmer pools," as Hanford called them — pools that actually measure regulation 25 yards, 25 meters or 50 meters, and also attract swimmers familiar with lap-lane etiquette.

That's where we come in. DNAinfo.com New York has compiled a list of the best public and private pools for lap swimming in each of New York City's five boroughs.

THE BRONX
Public: Crotona Park Pool
Size: Olympic. 100 meters by 36.5 meters. Number of lap lanes varies based on pool demand.
Lap Swimming: 7 to 8:30 a.m. (registration required), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to dusk (registration required).
173rd Street and Fulton Avenue in Crotona. 718-822-4440. Free.

$30 will get you a day's worth of chlorine-y goodness at the New York Sports Club pool, located on the 15th floor of the Crown Plaza Times Square. Day-pass holders can also use the steam rooms, saunas, and exercise equipment.
$30 will get you a day's worth of chlorine-y goodness at the New York Sports Club pool, located on the 15th floor of the Crown Plaza Times Square. Day-pass holders can also use the steam rooms, saunas, and exercise equipment.
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www.cpmanhattantimessquare.com

Private: The Bronx House
Size: Indoor. Four lanes, 25 yards.
Lap Swimming: Anytime during adult swim, which changes depending on the day. Check the pool schedule on the Bronx House website.
990 Pelham Parkway South in Bronxdale. 718-792-1800. $10 adult day-pass, $45 adult monthly membership.

BROOKLYN
Public: McCarren Park Pool
Size: Olympic. 100 meters by 46 meters. Number of lap lanes varies based on pool demand.
Lap Swimming: 7 to 8:30 a.m. (registration required), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to dusk (registration required)
Manhattan Avenue between Bayard Street and Berry Street in Greenpoint. 311. Free.

Private: Brooklyn Sports Club
Size: Indoor. 25 yards, six lanes.
Lap Swimming: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
1540 Van Siclen Ave. in East New York. 718-642-2721. $20 adult guest-pass; $62.65 adult monthly membership; $724.54 annual membership.

MANHATTAN
Public: Lasker Pool
Size: Olympic. 73 meters by 58 meters. Number of lap lanes varies based on pool demand.
Lap Swimming: Lap Swimming: 7 to 8:30 a.m. (registration required), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to dusk (registration required)
110th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. 212-534-7639. Free.

Private: Asphalt Green
Size: Indoor. Monday through Friday, four lanes in the 50-meter pool from 5:30 to 8 a.m., four to eight lanes in the 25-yard pool from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a two-hour break between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Lap Swimming: 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Check online pool schedule for details which lanes and lengths will be open.
555 E. 90th St. in the Upper East Side. 212-369-8890. $35 adult day-pass, $199 adult monthly pass. Annual adult memberships start at $89 per month.

Honorable Mention: Manhattan Plaza Health Club (rooftop pool with retractable ceiling). 25 yards, three lanes.
482 W. 43rd St. in Hell’s Kitchen. 212-563-7001. $350 summer membership through Labor Day, plus a variety of daily, monthly and annual memberships.

QUEENS
Public: Astoria Park Pool
Size: Olympic. 100 meters by 50 meters. Number of lap lanes varies based on pool demand.
Lap Swimming: 7 to 8:30 a.m. (registration required), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to dusk (registration required)
19th Street and 23rd Drive in Astoria. 718-626-8620. Free.

Private: Flushing YMCA
Size: Indoor. 25 yards, one to three lanes.
Lap Swimming: 5:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
138-46 Northern Blvd. in Flushing. 718-961-6880. $15 adult weekday day-pass, $25 adult weekend day-pass; $615 for season through Sept. 3

STATEN ISLAND
Public: Lyons
Size: Olympic. 50 meters by 30 meters. Number of lap lanes varies based on pool demand.
Lap Swimming: Lap Swimming: 7 to 8:30 a.m. (registration required), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to dusk (registration required)
Pier 6 and Victory Boulevard in Stapleton. 718-816-9571. Free.

Private: Staten Island Bernikow/Mid-Island JCC
Type: Indoor. 25 yards, six lanes.
Lap Swimming: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Entry: $15 adult day-pass (accepted any day except Sunday).
1466 Manor Rd. in Emerson Hill. 718-475-5200.

More public pools that offer lap swimming:
The Bronx: Van Cortlandt; Brooklyn: Red Hook (Olympic), Sunset Park (Olympic); Manhattan: Asser Levy, Hamilton Fish (Olympic), Jackie Robinson (Olympic), John Jay, Marcus Garvey, Thomas Jefferson (Olympic), Tony DaPolito (includes diving pool).

A Note About Public Pools:
Only a handful of public pools offer lap swimming, and many only do so within specific times. Non-Olympic-size pools (those less than 50 meters long), limit lap swimming to before and after general pool hours: what the city calls “early-bird” hours from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and “night-owl” hours from 7 p.m. to dusk.

At the 10 Olympic-size public pools that do offer lap swimming, lap lanes are available during the early-bird and night-owl hours, plus during the pools’ regular operating hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone who wants to swim laps during the early-bird or night-owl hours must register with the city’s Parks Department. Online pre-registration closed last Friday, but swimmers can register poolside during regular lap-swim hours from July 5 through Aug. 31. Registration is free, but it is restricted to residents ages 18 and older.

The rules are strictly enforced at public pools. For example, electronics are not allowed, patrons must bring their own padlocks for lockers, and plain white T-shirts are the only types of shirts allowed on-deck. Check the Parks Department website for the full list of pool rules.

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