New York City's public pools open TODAY — here's what you need to know

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Forget what the calendar says: For some of us, it's officially summer in New York City when the public outdoor pools (finally!) open. And that'll happen this Wednedsay, a city-living perk that lasts through Labor Day.

The lowdown

There are a total of 55 outdoor pools and a dozen indoor pools (more on those later)—11 of them Olympic-sized. They're open from 11 am to 7 pm, (though they're closed for cleaning from 3 pm to 4 pm, so plan accordingly). Some pools also offer lap hours between 7 am and 8:30 am, and then again between 7 pm and 8:30 pm (in July) and 7 pm and 8:15 pm (in August). You'll need to register for lap swim on the Parks Department website.

The newest pool to reopen (and undergo a massive refurbishment) was Williamsburg/Greenpoint's huge McCarren pool, back in 2012.  While there are no new pools debuting this year, last year's opening of High Bridge, which connects the Bronx to Manhattan, means Bronx residents now have easier and quicker access to Highbridge Pool—comprised of a massive wading pool and an Olympic-sized pool, so there's plenty of room for everyone—at Highbridge Park.

Helpful tips:

Besides not arriving between 3 pm and 4 pm, we have this intel to share: New York's pools are really cold. The temps feel great on a 90-plus-degree scorcher, but otherwise, be prepared to feel the chill when you first jump in. Also—and this probably goes without saying but we're putting it out there anyway—they get really crowded on super hot weekends.

Some of our favorite pools, aside from the aforementioned McCarren park one, are the intermediate pool and the diving pool at John Jay Park, at 77th Street, east of York Avenue; the (pretty unknown and therefore fairly quiet) mini-pool at Frederick Douglass Playground on Amsterdam Avenue between 100th and 102nd streets, and the Olympic-sized Lasker Pool, at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue. 

The rules:

All public pools follow the same rules, according to the city's Parks Department. Read up on them carefully before you head out, including:

  • You need to have a bathing suit to enter the pool area.
  • All clothes you wear over your bathing suit have to be white. 
  • You have to have a sturdy combination lock for storing your clothes in the lockers while you swim.
  • You have to wash off in the shower before going in the pool.
  • Floaties are not allowed for children who cannot yet swim. Use the shallow end if you're going with someone who can't swim. (You can register for swim lessons from age one-and-a-half and up, but acceptance is decided by lottery. There are three sessions running from July 7th to August 21st).

If you simply can't stand the idea of being outside at all on the hottest days, the city also has a dozen indoor pools. Unlike outdoor pools, you'll need a membership to access them if you're over 18 at a cost of $150 per year for adults over 25 and $25 per year for seniors and adults ages 18 to 24. Anyone under 18 gets in for free. Sign up for memberships directly at one of the centers

Of course, you could always try to make friends with a resident in one of these NYC buildings with a pool. If you have an in, lucky you.

***Updated June 29, 2016.


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