Roosevelt Island, Sportspark Swim Center

Cable Car across the East River for an island swim!

Cable car across the East River for an island swim!

Well, it’s wet, really wet… and I mean the outdoor New York weather, not a pool! Headed over to Roosevelt Island via the huge tramway crossing the East river parallel to the Queensborough bridge.

Arrive at the Sports Park pool only to find it doesn’t open for another 30 minutes! Hunt out the nearest Starbucks and wait it out, man-oh-man the Upper East Side skyline looks miserable in the wet! When it’s raining in New York, the general awesomeness takes a nosedive.

Seems everyone’s seeking shelter in the Roosevelt Island Starbucks! There isn’t a free seat in the house! Have to stand near the door and sip my Caramel Macchiato. Hope they aren’t all waiting for the pool to open!

And the clock turns 4! Make my way back over to the pool. I’m concerned as reach the walkway alongside the pool, looking through the windows it still looks closed! The water is motionless, the lights are off, and there isn’t a lifeguard in sight!

The entrance may well be the least inviting door to a swimming pool I’ve ever encountered, a battered solid slab of metal hanging between a hole in the drab 60’s concrete wall. I give it a push, and to my relief, it opens!

From reception I can see through the glass window to a guy sweeping the pool deck, manage to grab his attention after a couple of minutes, and he springs to life, arriving behind the counter in seconds.

At this point, my hopes for a great swim and general mood are low! But my two-minute conversation with my new Napoleon Dynamite lookalike friend just shows how one person can change your day! He gives me the basic rundown of the facility, almost checking I’m happy before I commit my $5 entrance fee. He tells me the pool is not long refurbished, but the changing rooms are in a state – to use his exact words, “the men’s room lockers look like the incredible hulk went to town on them”.

Sure enough, the lockers were a state! But I’ve seen some pretty banged up pools in my time so I get down to the business of finding a locker with a door – that isn’t bent beyond closing – and has a padlock loop still sufficiently intact. I find only one!

Walking out onto the pool deck I see there are now two other swimmers in the water running short sets – and two of the most lethargic lifeguards you may ever meet! Snapchatting away, they were less-than-primed for action, but I couldn’t blame them, the pool was quiet.

The pool is a ‘retro-fit aluminium, drop in a hole-type, although it is tiled on the bottom than others I’ve seen, which is a better finish than the usual slippy metal floor. The building feels old, more like a warehouse with large windows on one side that frame a grey, miserable skyline. But there is something about the pool that has lifted my mood.

Start off with the now usual 1,000 yards then plough straight into 5x 200’s and break down with a closing 1,000 yards of mixed 100’s and 50’s.

Meeting my colleague Doug and his wife Joan for dinner, the plan was a restaurant near the tramway, but on leaving the pool, the sideways rain left my jeans soaked, so a quick dash back to the hotel to change. We end up at a Mexican in Midtown which now takes the crown of ‘best Mexican I ever ate!’.

Swim Stats

  • Length: 3000 yards total swim
  • 1:21 pace / 100y
  • Garmin Swim Watch



All things considered, this was actually an enjoyable swim, the pool certainly has 'character', it wasn't all that clean, and I can imagine the swim would have been less pleasant if the pool was busy.

Pool Details

  • Length: 25 yards
  • 6-lane pool
  • Indoor

Roosevelt Island, Sportspark Swim Center
250 Main St, New York, NY 10044, USA

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