Goldfish Swim School is set to replace Lester's department store on Second Avenue | Upper East Site
Goldfish Swim School is set to replace Lester's department store on Second Avenue | Upper East Site, Goldfish Swim Scholl (inset)

Goldfish Swim School to Replace Iconic UES Department Store Lester’s

A new swimming school for kids is set to make a big splash on the Upper East Side in the new year. Upper East Site has confirmed Goldfish Swim School is moving into the sprawling space formerly occupied by the popular retailer Lester’s — and will be transforming the department store’s sales floor into a giant indoor teaching pool.

Goldfish swim school will be located at 1534 Second Avenue, at the corner of East 80th Street | Upper East Site
Goldfish swim school will be located at 1534 Second Avenue, at the corner of East 80th Street | Upper East Site

Construction on the new Goldfish Swim School location is set to begin in just a few weeks in mid-January at 1534 Second Avenue, at the corner of East 80th Street, after signing a lease for the iconic space. The New York Post was first to report the lease signing. 

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Lester’s closed their department store this month after 30 years in business on the Upper East Side. On Monday, crews were seen removing what’s left of clothing displays still inside the defunct store.

Crews were seen removing clothing displays from Lester's on Monday | Upper East Site
Crews were seen removing clothing displays from Lester’s on Monday | Upper East Site

A handwritten message on a shopping bag taped to the front window of the store read “Lester’s of Manhattan is closed. We sincerely thank our loyal customers for their patronage.”

A handwritten message thanks Lester's customers | Upper East Site
A handwritten message thanks Lester’s customers | Upper East Site

Once renovations are complete, the 9,500 square foot space will be unrecognizable. Goldfish Swim School’s UES space will feature a brand new 70-foot long by 22-foot wide pool that can be seen through the windows from the sidewalk. 

“We’re not renting pools — going into a condo and renting a pool there or in a health club [to teach lessons],” explained Val Paese, President of BHB New York, the owner of the new UES swim school.

“We build these [pools] from scratch. It’s a true swim school.”

The UES pool will be 70-feet long by 22-feet wide | Goldfish Swim School
The UES pool will be 70-feet long by 22-feet wide | Goldfish Swim School

Upper East Site has learned the massive pool will also be heated to a 90 degrees, while the air inside the school will be heated to 92 degrees — so the kiddos stay warm and comfortable during their lessons. 

“You know that feeling, out of the water and you’re freezing and you want to just jump back in,” Paese said.

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At just four-and-a-half-foot deep, the pool is meant only to teach children 4-months to 12-years-old. That means no laps or diving is allowed.

Proud moms and dads will be able to easily watch their child’s lesson from the school’s dry area, which has ample seating, by simply looking through the large glass viewing wall into to the wet area. 

Parents can watch their child's swim lesson from the dry area | Goldfish Swim School
Parents can watch their child’s swim lesson from the dry area | Goldfish Swim School

Forget your typical pool locker rooms, the changing area at Goldfish Swim School features individual stalls and is designed to look like a tiki hut so that it feels more like a mini-vacation inside.

“It’s not like a locker room where you go in and there’s a bunch of people around,” Paese told Upper East Site, “They’re private.”

Changing areas feature private individual stalls | Goldfish Swim School
Changing areas feature private individual stalls | Goldfish Swim School

As for when you the first swim lessons will begin in the new UES location, Paese says if all goes as planned, they expect to be open by late next summer or fall.

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