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A Guide To Manhattan’s Public Pools

July 21, 2011 1:30 PM

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

So which pools in the city are the best price, and which offer the best hours and amenities for a bit higher price? CBSNewYork did some research. Here’s your complete guide to public pools and where to swim in NYC.  For an official listing of pools in the outer boroughs, click here.

On the West Side

Chelsea Piers

62 Chelsea Piers
New York, NY 10011
(212) 336-6666
www.chelseapiers.com

Chelsea Piers is probably Manhattan’s best-known and priciest pool. Walk into this star-studded gym, and you get the royal treatment – from the fluffy towels and robes to the requests to “speak with a membership agent” after you get out. I had the privilege of using a friend’s corporate guest pass, otherwise I wouldn’t have dropped the $50 on a day pass granting access to all the gym’s copious amenities, not just the pool. But the pool is what I want, not the amenities, and the gym is very secretive about what they charge for the pool. Prices are not listed online, nor on the company’s website, and interested candidates are encouraged to come in and purchase a day pass before the topic will be broached. Pool hours are expansive – lap swim is available 12 hours a day, seven days a week – as is the pool at 25 meters. There is a nice sun deck just off the pool overlooking the Hudson. My one criticism of Chelsea Piers is that I don’t like it when the entrance to the shower is miles away from the entrance to the pool. Dripping wet, you have to cross an overhead catwalk in front of a gaggle of incoming guests. I guess that’s what the fluffy robes are for.

Chelsea Recreation Center

430 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 255-3705

You can get a membership at the Chelsea Recreation Center for $100 a year. There are certain things you must understand about the 25th Street pool. First, lap swim hours are limited. If your schedule doesn’t fit into the prescribed times, don’t expect sympathy from the staff. Don’t expect sympathy either if you forget your lock; They won’t let you in without one. Don’t even try to bring a razor in with you; It’s considered a weapon. And expect to see transients showering, sometimes mentally unstable ones. The pool also gets crowded; You want to show up within the first five minutes of opening hours for lap swim and expect to circle swim with someone right on your tail. If you are OK with the slightly militant atmosphere, however, you can’t beat the price of Chelsea Rec Center. The pool is clean, albeit fairly high on the chlorine count. And it measures 25 meters, the same size as it’s high-priced counterpart Chelsea Piers.

McBurney YMCA

125 West 14th Street Between 6th & 7th Ave.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 912-2300

McBurney garners great reviews. Although I haven’t been there myself, I know enough about lap swimming after 14 years to recognize a great-sounding pool when I hear about one. This newly-renovated facility has high ceilings, so you don’t feel closed in like at some other indoor pools. Lap swim hours are liberal – 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on both Saturday and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – and the rate is slightly lower than other YMCA’s at $89 per month with a $125 join fee. The pool rates high on cleanliness of both the pool and the locker room.

Hansborough Pool

35 W 134th St (at Lenox Terrace Pl)
New York, NY 10037

As another pool in the Parks and Recreation Department, Hansborough also charges $100 per year. Named in memory of John Rozier Hansborough Jr. (1907-1981), a former Parks recreational employee and Harlem community leader, the recreation center was improved in 1994 by installing an elevator, ramps, and outside lighting and by renovating the bathrooms for the handicapped. New fencing, lighting, and flooring were installed on the building’s roof to provide a dramatic setting for special events. More at nycgovparks.org

Carmine Recreation Center

1 & 3 Clarkson Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-5228
Located in Tony Dapolito Recreation Center

The Tony Dapolito Recreation Center serves as a year-round hub for many in and around the neighborhood. In addition to providing fitness facilities, it hosts youth and adult athletic leagues, after-school programs, a summer day camp, fitness classes and many other activities. The outdoor pool is open from July 1 to August 31; Mon-Fri from 12pm-7pm, Sat-Sun 11am-7pm. More at nycgovparks.org.

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On the East Side

2119024 A Guide To Manhattans Public Pools

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Vanderbilt YMCA

224 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 912-2500

This pool rates slightly above average for cleanliness and convenience, and slightly below average in terms of pricing. An adult membership will run you $93 per month plus a $125 joining fee. The staff offers adult swim classes for beginners that get high marks. A Master’s Swim team meets three nights a week. The facility provides towels. Another big bonus to this facility is the 5th floor sun deck. Rates higher than the west side pool.

92nd Street YMCA

1395 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128
(212) 415-5500

The center offers one of the finest swimming facilities in New York City. Our 25-yard pool is primarily used for recreational aquatics activities and is the first commercial indoor pool in New York State to be primarily disinfected by ozone. Ozone purifies water and air very quickly and efficiently, 3,000 times faster than chlorine. Aside from the pool, there is a multitude of other activities going on, patrons can lift weights, take a spin class, play basketball and receive expert physical therapy and massage services, all in one place. More at 92y.org.

Asser Levy Recreation Center

501 Asser Levy Place
New York, NY 10010
(212) 447-2020

This recreation center offers plenty of opportunities for exercise, lessons, and play. For those looking to get into shape, the gym offers weights, workout machines, and treadmills, among other equipment. Members take advantage of the Center’s classes all year around, learning yoga, aerobics, pilates, and other skills. Those looking for a social experience spend time with friends playing billiards and ping pong, or working up a sweat on the basketball and handball courts. Being equipped with both indoor and outdoor pools guarantees swimmers can splash around no matter what the weather. More at nycgovparks.org

Bally Total Fitness – Midtown

45 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 688-6630

Bally Total Fitness is the pioneer in designing and building world-class health clubs, so each facility is the result of decades of fitness experience. Every health club is designed to give you all you need to achieve your personal goals.

John Jay Swimming Pool

77th Street and Cherokee Place
New York, NY 10021
(212) 794-6566
The 145-foot pool opened its waters to the public in 1940 and has offered locals and visitors from all across New York City an opportunity to cool off with water sports ever since.

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