Mayor splashes into summer at Astoria swim spot

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He took a dip in Astoria Pool with dozens of local kids, officially kicking off the summer pool season in New York City.

"Last one in's a rotten egg," Bloomberg said, just minutes before jumping legs first into the shallow end of the Olympic-size pool in Astoria Park along the East River.

The city's 53 outdoor public pools - including the three in Queens - opened Saturday and will be free to the public until the swimming season ends on Labor Day.

Bloomberg and the children with whom he splashed around Friday were happy to get a head start on the summer.

The mayor was in good spirits, joking with reporters as he waltzed around the pool in loafers, a white Polo shirt and black, Reebok swim trunks.

"It's a little disappointing that the press is not wearing their swimsuits and flip-flops," Bloomberg said, adding that the print reporters probably preferred tight-fitting Speedos.

He gave a brief speech touching on the history of the Astoria Pool, advocating water safety and warning swimmers to avoid beaches and pools without lifeguards.

Astoria Pool, he said, opened in the mid-1930s and hosted the 1936 and 1964 Olympic trials. If New York City wins its 2012 Olympic bid, he said the pool will figure prominently in the Games, holding the diving contest and synchronized swimming.

"I personally will be working on my backstroke between now and then," Bloomberg said, just in case the Olympic swim team comes calling.

After remarks from City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Bloomberg lined up poolside with more than a dozen children.

"When I blow the whistle three times - on the third one we go. Ready?" The mayor asked, bringing a silver whistle to his lips.

After three blows, the children jumped in. Bloomberg, still wearing his white polo shirt, hesitated for a moment before taking the plunge.

He bobbed around for a few minutes before doing the freestyle stroke over to the ladder and climbing out of the water.

"These kids are lucky," Bloomberg said. "This city has facilities we didn't have where I grew up."

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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