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The NYC Life Aquatic

Of all the things you can do in New York City, a backstroke while framed by the Manhattan skyline is not what normally comes to mind–until now. The Floating Pool, an innovative public pool built on a barge moored on the Brooklyn side of the East River is open through Labor Day. Making a splash in New York has never been easier.

The 7-lane, 25-foot long, and 100% free pool opened on July 4th to capacity crowds. The cannonballs and splash wars haven’t slowed since. Named “The Floating Pool Lady” the barge boasts the pool itself, a snack bar, a separate spray pool, locker rooms and 40-foot long translucent murals that celebrate the resurgence of marine life on the New York waterfront.

A project of the Neptune Foundation, a non-profit organization whose aim is to bring pools like the one in Brooklyn to other aquatically-challenged communities, the 80 by 260 foot barge is the altruistic result of decades of work and commitment to the belief that recreationally undeserved communities deserve a place to swim.

The idea isn’t new though. The pool is the newest member of Gotham’s swimming legacy. As far back as the 1870s, New York has provided its citizens with municipal swimming holes along its shores. Back then, the pools were actually kind of swimming cages, dropped into the Hudson and East rivers. Not surprisingly, they were eventually shut down because of health concerns surrounding the increasingly brackish water.

In those days, wealthier patrons would pay for a swim. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who you could pay to take a dip into that water. New York won’t be challenging Rio de Janeiro, Miami or Los Angeles anytime soon with its oceanfront scene. But, at least now there is a clean, outdoor place to swim near the beach—Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach

Images © Julienne Schaer and Milton Herman

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