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June 28, 2021

Lifeguard shortage to keep one-third of Philly's public pools closed this summer

Parks & Recreation announces opening dates for 47 pools

Recreation Pools
Philadelphia pool opening dates Source/Parks & Recreation

Philadelphia will open 47 public pools during the 2021 summer, but 21 will remain closed due to a lifeguard shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philadelphia's public pools will begin opening later this week, a welcome development amid a heat wave expected to send temperatures into the upper 90s. 

Last summer, the city opted to keep all pools closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, only 47 of the city's 68 pools are expected to welcome residents back this summer, according to a timeline released Monday by the Department of Parks & Recreation. The other 21 — a little less than one-third — will remain closed due to a lifeguard shortage. 

Parks & Recreation sought to recruit lifeguards by offering free training to applicants ages 16-24 and starting wages of $15.25 per hour. But recruitment efforts were pushed back from November to mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials said. 

Typically, Parks & Recreation offers training and certification classes at the School District of Philadelphia's indoor pools throughout the year. But they were unable to access those pools this year. Classes were moved to an outdoor pool where heaters and deck warming stations were installed. 

Certification class sizes also had to be kept smaller, and more training work was needed to make up for a lost year of lifeguarding. It takes 4-6 weeks to train, certify and hire lifeguards, city officials said.

Many lifeguards also have taken other jobs or their certifications — which expire every two years — are no longer valid, according to Billy Penn. Additionally, the ability to easily recruit lifeguards from high school swim teams wasn't readily available this year due to the pandemic.

The city has hired about 70% of the roughly 400 lifeguards necessary to fully staff the city's public pools. Pools require at least five lifeguards and several maintenance workers in order to open, according to the Inquirer.

Training is slated to continue over the summer months so that Philly can reopen all pools next year, city officials said.

"We have been relentless in our efforts to recruit as many lifeguards as possible to minimize the disruption to service in our first pool season since the pandemic shutdown of 2020," Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said. "We are seeing pools, recreation facilities and beaches across the country reduce hours or close locations due to the lack of certified lifeguards to work this summer following more than a year out of the water due to the global pandemic."

Pools will reopen on a rolling basis beginning Wednesday and continuing through July 10. Sixteen pools will reopen by the Fourth of July weekend. 

Pools were selected to reopen based upon geography, past usage and neighborhood need, city officials said. The city also has more than 90 spraygrounds that are open daily during the summer.

"Philadelphia public pools are a great way to cool down, have fun and stay active this summer," Ott Lovell said. "We're pleased to be able to provide residents, and especially young people, with the chance to make some great summer memories as we continue to safely emerge from this pandemic."

Residents can use the city's finder tool to look up the closest pool or sprayground. The tool also includes open swim, family swim and adult swim times and information on swim lessons and swim teams. 

Here are the opening dates for each of 47 pools resuming operations this summer:

June 30

Finnegan Playground, 6801 Grovers Ave.
Mander Playground, 2140 N. 33rd St.
Samuel Recreation Center, 3539 Gaul St.
Vogt Recreation Center, 4131 Unruh Ave.

July 1

Bridesburg Recreation Center, 4625 Richmond St.
Francisville Playground, 1737 Francis St.
Lackman Playground, 1101 Bartlett St.
Simpson Recreation Center, 1010 Arrott St.

July 2

Barry Playground, 1800 Johnston St.
Cobbs Creek Recreation Center, 280 Cobbs Creek Pkwy.
Kendrick Recreation Center, 5822 Ridge Ave.
Northern Liberties Recreation Center, 321 Fairmount Ave.

July 3

American Legion Playground, 6201 Torresdale Ave.
Cherashore Playground, 851 W. Olney Ave.
Fox Chase Recreation Center, 7901 Ridgeway St.
Murphy Recreation Center, 300 W. Shunk St.

July 6

Anderson Recreation Center, 740 S. 17th St.
Hancock Playground, 1401 N. Hancock St.
Heitzman Recreation Center, 2136 Castor Ave.
Kelly Pool, 4231 Landsdowne Dr.
Max Myers Playground, 1601 Hellerman St.

July 7

Cione Playground, 2600 E. Aramingo Ave.
Mitchell Playground, 3700 Whitehall Lane
Penrose Playground, 1101 W. Susquehanna Road
Pleasant Playground, 6757 Chew Ave.
Vare Recreation Center, 2600 Morris St.

July 8

Houseman Recreation Center, 5091 Summerdale Ave.
Jacobs Playground, 4500 Linden Ave.
Kingsessing Recreation Center, 4901 Kingsessing Ave.
Sacks Playground, 400 Washington Ave.
Schmidt Playground, 113 W. Ontario St.

July 9

Awbury Playground, 6101 Ardleigh St.
Christy Recreation Center, 728 S. 55th St.
Jardel Recreation Center, 1400 Cottman Ave.
M.L. King Recreation Center, 2101 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
Stinger Square, 1400 S. 32nd St.

July 10

Athletic Recreation Center, 1400 N. 26th St.
C.B. Moore Recreation Center, 2551 N. 22nd St.
Feltonville Recreation Center, 609 Snyder Ave.
Shepard Recreation Center, 5700 Haverford Ave.
Tustin Playground, 5901 W. Columbia Ave.

Reopening dates TBD

39th & Olive Playground, 700 N. 39th St.
Ford Recreation Center, 609 Snyder Ave.
Lee Cultural Center, 4328 Haverford Ave.
Lonnie Young Recreation Center, 1100 E. Chelten Ave.
O'Connor Pool, 2601 South St.
Scanlon Playground, 1099 E. Tioga St.

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