NY has an extremely larrrgggeeee sporting complex called Chelsea Piers. They have everything: gymnastics, tons of indoor courts and fields, spa, a shooting range, and on and on but also a gym and pool!
I had looked up a list of local USMS Masters teams in NYC and found that the Chelsea Piers team was meeting Saturday morning at 9:00. This was too perfect! My flight wasn't until 2 so I had time to practice, shower, pack, eat with my friends and get on my bus to the airport out of there. The only trick was getting there. I ended up leaving my friends apartment at 8:10 on 8th ave and 47th, headed towards the Hudson River. The run to the pool was about 2 miles and I was so glad to have the extra time because as you can see above, this place was GI-NORMOUS and took some navigating. I finally found registration and got myself set.
Then something weird happened. I had never experienced this before. The guy at the front desk said I had to go into the locker room, then get my swim suit on and then put on a robe before walking across the gym to the pool. I was like OK this is a joke. He assured me it wasn't but I was not going to be a fool so instead I looked like a perv because I hung out in the locker room and eyed everyone in a swim suit to see what they did. Sure enough they put their robes on and went back out into the gym. I did the same but felt like a freak walking past the smoothie bar, all of the weight lifters and tradmill-ers.
The pool was super nice and was on a second floor sort of extending over the water with windows all around so I was basically in the Hudson minus the boats, heroine needles and cold water. The practice ended up being really nice. The coach was super friendly and before I knew it I had gotten in 4800 solid yards! I ran the 2 miles back with my wet hair and intense goggle marks. At one corner I was stopped and a woman turned to her BF and was talking in a language I didn't know while making circle motions with her finger around her eyes and looking at me with a raised eyebrow. Yeah, I get it, I look like a freakish raccoon. So I lifted my hand that was holding my cap and goggles up near their faces in a fake stretch so hopefully they put it together.
All in all, when out of town I am going to do my best to swim with the local masters team because it was really fun, in this case free, and a nice way to meet new people and see new things.