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The Floating Pool Lady
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

NYC's only floating pool is back in the East River for the summer

It's on the deck of an old barge.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

We're all aware of +POOL, the long-proposed, plus-shaped swimming area designed to let people swim in filtered water in the middle of the East River. But did you know NYC is already home to a floating pool?

The Floating Pool Lady is a barge that was outfitted to include a half Olympic-size pool in 2007—and it's back in New York waters for the summer. 

RECOMMENDED: This spectacular floating pool now has a home in the East River

The Floating Pool Lady has a seven-lane, 25-meter-long pool for New Yorkers to enjoy for free, as well as a 40,000-square-foot manmade "beach."

If you haven't seen it in the East River, you'll have to go further north— it's docked at Barretto Point Park in the Bronx and it opens alongside other city pools on June 26.

Floating Pool Lady
Photograph: Courtesy Kent Merrill and Ann L. Buttenwieser

Originally, it docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park when it made its debut, offering swimmers incredible views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

It moved up to Barretto Point Park in 2008, where it has been docked every summer since. The whole idea came from Ann Buttenwieser, founder of the Neptune Foundation, who wanted to create a new generation of movable waterfront pools for recreationally underserved communities.

Buttenwieser took a cue from NYC history—around the turn of the 20th century, there were about 15 floating baths in the Hudson and East Rivers thanks to a public health initiative back then. Usually found near tenement districts, these baths were moored at street ends and allowed river water to run through them. New Yorkers used these pools to bathe but also learn how to swim.

Each pool was about 95 feet long and 60 feet wide and floated on eight pontoons. They were divided into two parts—one pool for adults (at a depth of just four-and-a-half feet and one for kids at two-and-a-half feet). Almost 70 dressing rooms surrounded the pools on a small gangway, according to NYC Parks.

Floating Pool Lady
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

With that in mind, the Foundation bought a barge and had it retrofitted at the Bollinger Yard in Louisiana. It was designed by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates with a team of engineering consultants and when it was completed, it was christened "The Floating Pool Lady."

You can read more about Buttenwieser arduous journey to bring the floating pool to NYC in her new book, "The Floating Pool Lady," and actually swim in it starting June 26, from 11am to 7pm daily.

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