Last Night at Red Hool Pool this Summer

red hook pool doors

The Red Hook pool doors at the close of the lap swim season

red hook pool doors daytime

The daytime swimmers leaving around 7PM.

August 30, 2013

I was on a quest to swim 25 miles at Sol Goldman pool this summer. Crossing the 25 mile mark in any city pool during morning or evening adult swims, July 9 to August 30, 2013, earns you a commemorative t-shirt from NYC Parks, Acquatics division. I haven't seen the t-shirt. From what I understand, the t-shirt proclaims the wearer to be a winner in an entirely non-competetive distance swimming affair. The terms:

The annual outdoor adult lap swim program gives adults the chance to take to the water for health and fitness without interruption from other swimmers. Participants who swim 25 miles or more over the summer will receive a free t-shirt and prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female distance swimmers at each pool program.

I got a late start, around July 19th, after getting back from Uncle Phil's funeral in Tacoma and recovering from a summer cold. If I got in those extra days I think I could have water-logged more miles. Yesterday I hit 26.2 miles. I swam 27.33 as of today. I was ranked fourth in the mens' night owl group. I'm not sure if that means much; I don't know how many people had entered to have their laps counted. Additionally, I think the morning crew is way ahead of the night crew in milage. I do know my registration card has me serialized as swimmer #421. Regardless of meaningless rankings in a non-competetive distance swimming affair, I was asked today if I'd picked up my shirt from some office in Queens. The guys at the Acquatics desk gave me verbal directions to that office, down to sidewalks and stairways to take, but there's no chance I'll ever remember. I will eventually get that t-shirt.

Even though the McCarren Park pool in Williamsburg is close, I went to Red Hook to swim. It's quieter there and the lap lanes are longer; I can find a better pace. The lap swimmer crowd is older, the people are less irritating, and they're less competitive about maintaining personal space. There's also the nearby Ikea, where froyo cones are a mere dollar, and Fairway, where I can find all the things I want to cook. I hit both of those places rather regularly after my swims.

At the entirely personal level, earning the shirt says I have succeeded in doing–and doing well–at something new. I was never athletic. I never swam laps before taking it up in March 2010, shortly after I moved to NYC. I had no job then and was confined to a small apartment. I was restless, and felt endless visually assaulted by the leaner, fitter, and better-looking people around me in Williamsburg who also happened to be visibly affluent, carefree, and apparently had all the time in the world to leisurely pass the it away at brunch. I had no local clients for photo or design work; I could hardly afford a bagel. I had no place to practice drums, my outlet for years. Relationships with my friends were tense and failing. I was leading a pointless existence in New York City. I wanted to and needed a change. Swimming gave physical objectives I could meet. Thanks to a gym membership at the YMCA in Greenpoint, paid for on a credit card, it was one thing I could control in a period that was overwhelming me.

This year, after almost four of them, the city is rewarding me for efforts to stay afloat. With a t-shirt. I can't wait to get it.


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