Since becoming a father (and since my wife is too cheap to let me run air conditioning all day), I’ve always been looking for low-cost ways to beat the NYC heat.
One of the best: Visit one of the many free NYC outdoor public pools found in every borough.
The pools are open daily until September 2. Check your local pool for hours, taking note of when they close the pool for cleaning (usually an hour in the middle of the day).
Be warned: There are strict rules for NYC’s public pools. The pool security guards are some no-nonsense employees. Don’t think you can get something past them. I’ve seen many parents and kids thrown out of the line for having something in their bag that they are not permitted to bring in.
Here are some key rules to know:
- You must come to the pool dressed to swim, whether you plan to go in the water or not. Otherwise, no entry.
- All men’s bathing suits need a lining inside. That means no board shorts.
- You must also bring a combination lock with you to secure your valuables. If you don’t have one, then you can’t swim.
- No food or glass bottles. Plastic water bottles are OK.
- All babies need to wear swim diapers.
- Other than swim shirts, only shirts that are completely white are permitted to be worn in the pool area.
- There is stroller parking at the pools, but they are left unguarded and nobody is responsible for them.
- Kids 7 and up must go through the bathroom of their sex. That makes it difficult for people like me who have kids of different genders. My advice is to have them wait by the door until you come back around to meet them.
- Floaties are not permitted in the pool, unless they are attached to the swimsuit.
When I go to the pool, I usually don’t bring anything that needs to be locked. I carry towels, sunscreen, an extra swim diaper and water bottles with me. That way I can walk right in without any hassle.
The pools also offer free swim classes and morning and evening lap swim for adults. My kids have taken classes at the pool for 3 years and have enjoyed the lessons. My wife is taking the Lap Swim Challenge this year. To learn more about the classes, go to http://www.nycgovparks.org/programs/aquatics.
Final tip? Don’t open your mouth while in the water. There are a lot of kids in there, after all.