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Sturdy Swimmers Dive Into Lap Swim Program

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During this summer, nearly 10,000 New Yorkers have hitting the pool can be serious business. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

During these last days of summer, adults are taking advantage of the Parks Department's Lap Swim Program. The annual early-bird outdoor program gives swimmers a chance to get in as many laps as they want at city pools, without interruption.

This year the city has seen an unexpected boost in attendance, with an estimated 9,500 adults hitting the water.

At seven o' clock on a Monday morning, there is a whole lot of splashing going on at the Astoria pool in Queens.

"It allows you to be with other people but yet be with your own thoughts. And it's great exercise," said swimmer Adele Goldberg.

At Astoria pool, which parks officials say is the largest in the city, 32 laps equal a mile, and some of the top swimmers log thousands of laps.

"Our staff counts their laps, and those that swim over 25 miles get a t-shirt and then we give awards at each pool for the top three men and the top three women," said Assistant Commissioner for Recreation Nancy Barthold.

The top swimmer has stroked nearly 80 miles since July.

"You have to concentrate, because you have to do your laps and you have to do your stroke properly," said swimmer Gary Weeks.

While some people choose to run and cycle for exercise, these swimmers believe the best workout can be found in the water.

"It gets your whole body going and there is not as much stress on your body. You're not beating yourself up," said swimmer Jay Gottfried.

The Astoria pool also has a little bit of a social scene.

"The same people come back, year after year, and you just kind of build friendships and stuff," said Goldberg.

"A lot of people, a couple of days a week, everyone goes out for breakfast. It's a lot of the people here who are retired, and so everyone just hangs out," said Gottfried.

The program runs through September 3.

Anyone interested in hitting the water can register poolside at any of the program's 13 locations. For more information, visit the Parks Department website at nyc.gov/parks.

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