NYC Parks & Recreation Lap Swim Program

Every summer Parks & Recreation sponsors two contests that take place at all their pools in the City.

First, everyone who swims 25 miles between July 7th and August 29th gets a tshirt. Piece of cake, you might say. But there are only two times of day when you can swim laps: the morning between 7 and 8:30am, aka the Early Bird division, and the evening between between 7 and 8:30pm, aka the Night Owl division. You have to pick one of those times/divisions and only the laps you swim during that time period get counted. AND, this is only Monday through Friday. This means you get 7 1/2 hours a week to rack up those miles.

(Exception: I just looked and you can enter both divisions and I have to clarify if that represents a third division, or just that you’re allowed to compete in both divisions.)

The second contest is about the men and women who swim the most miles in their division between July 7th and August 8th. At each pool there will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for the top male and female swimmers in Early Bird division, and the same for the Night Owl division. Oh, there’s one more contest. There is also a trophy for the men and women who swim the most miles of everyone at all the pools in the City.

Last summer I was in the women’s Night Owl division at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center and I came in 3rd!! Okay, that’s because only 3 of us were competing. Ha! But still!! I finished with 32 miles, which I learned was a respectable showing after seeing how the swimmers at other pools did. Correction: I checked and I came in 3rd with only 27 miles!

There’s a wonderful dinner party at the end of the summer for everyone who swam at least 25 miles, and who came in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in their division.

I am once again entered into the women’s Night Owl division. Wish me luck! Honestly, I feel like I have a lot less energy for this, but I couldn’t resist entering. I can’t say no to a competition, apparently. I included a link in the first paragraph, in case you’re in NYC and you want to enter too.

Here is Bleecker with my 3rd place trophy from last year. Luckily, it neither taste good nor made a particularly fun chew toy.

NYC Parks & Recreation Lap Swim Program Trophy

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “NYC Parks & Recreation Lap Swim Program

  1. so cool! i signed up this year for the first time, and i think i’m finally going to hit 25 miles this week (good thing, it’s the last week!) i signed up for morning and evening but wasn’t able to make the morning swims so i did night owl, which i didn’t realize was more challenging because A. they cancel it if it’s too hot and keep the pool open to the public (i don’t think that happens in the morning), and B. they start to close the pool earlier when it gets dark earlier. i was wondering if signing up for early bird/night owl meant that i had to achieve 25 miles in both or just that i could swim in both. oh well, we’ll see.

  2. Yes, the Night Owl swims make it more challenging for just the reasons you state! I always did the Night Owl. I can tell you that the Early Bird and the Night Owl swims are counted separately. So, if you do 10 miles in one and 15 in the other, it doesn’t count as your 25. But good luck with making your 25!! You can do it!! It’s worth it for the party, it’s very satisfying picking up your tshirt.

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