The Hudson Runs Through It

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Thirty-three years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, New York’s 315-mile Hudson River, long an icon of industrial and municipal pollution, is running clean enough that native fish species like the striped bass are boosting their numbers even in the waters off Manhattan. And they’re not alone. About 2,000 people will dive into the Hudson on July 10 for the New York City Triathlon, and 61 miles upstream, residents in the town of Beacon are hoping to reinvent the river as their own swimming hole. Their organization, River Pool at Beacon, has teamed with Manhattan-based architect Meta Brunzema to create a floating enclosure that would protect swimmers from currents and boat traffic while allowing the river to flow through. They hope to test a prototype this summer and float the final 4,360-square-foot pool by 2008. “Most people don’t even remember swimming in rivers,” says Brunzema. “This is a vision to get people into the natural environment.”

1. GANGWAYS floating atop pontoons will provide dry passage from shore to pool. Because shadows on the riverbed can disrupt underwater ecology, the gangways and above-surface portions of the pool wall may be made of Plexiglas.

2. Two 30-foot-diameter EXTENSIONS will add to the utility of the 66-foot-diameter main pool. One will offer protected wading for toddlers, while the other will lengthen the pool boundaries enough for standard 75-foot-lap swimming.

3. The WALLS will extend 4.5 feet above and below the surface. They will be solid and translucent above water, while the underwater portion will consist of a fence of vertical steel bars, spaced four inches apart.

4. Five steel-cable ANCHORS will secure the pool while allowing it to move with the Hudson’s three-foot tidal fluctuations. The cables will run through pulleys attached to the river bottom, with buoys at the far ends to take out the slack.

5. The FLOOR will be made from stainless-steel netting and will work on a spring-loaded system, similar to a fold-out bed, that will allow for easy setup and storage. Assembling or breaking down the entire pool will take less than a day.

6. A hollow aluminum COMPRESSION RING below the surface will hold the floor taut while also providing the main source of buoyancy for the pool.

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