A: Only 8 of the city's 91 public pools open this summer are indoor facilities and big enough to do laps, which is exactly where you should go if you're serious about swimming. A one-year $25 fee (less in the outer boroughs) ensures access to pools that are always less crowded and already open (outdoor public pools open in July).
After a long-overdue $5 million renovation, the Metropolitan Pool in Williamsburg (261 Bedford Avenue, at Metropolitan Avenue; 718-599-5707), with its glass enclosure and fitness room upstairs, is arguably the city's flagship pool. Though there's an organized adult swim from 6 to 9:30 in the evening, the best times to avoid crowds are early afternoons in midweek. Two other pools in midtown, at 54 East (342 East 54th Street; 397-3154) and Rec Center 59 (533 West 59th Street; 397-3159), are ideal for a quick dip between meetings. There are regularly scheduled organized lap swims, though mornings are best.
The only indoor Olympic-size public pool in the city is at Riverbank State Park (679 Riverside Drive, at West 145th Street; 694-3608). For $2 a day, swimmers can take advantage of a 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. lap swim every day, thus avoiding the kids and crowds that can turn a public pool into our local version of Splash Mountain.