Philadelphia pool season begins as some locations open on rolling schedule

Twenty-six public pools are scheduled to open by July 4.

6abc Digital Staff Image
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Philly pool season begins as some locations open on rolling schedule
The City of Philadelphia says it will open 50 pools this summer as the nation deals with an ongoing lifeguard shortage.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia leaders will help celebrate the first day of pool season Tuesday at a block party at the newly renovated Fishtown Recreation Center.

The location represents $4 million of investments to improve and expand facilities at the site after failed plumbing at the pool center.

The block party will go from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

City officials said the Rebuild project serves as a model for the rest of the country in that major improvements are paid for by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.

"What I hope comes from this is that they follow our lead on things like the beverage tax and Rebuild to take back to their own cities and opportunities to raise revenue and to fix up their parks, recreation centers, libraries," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

Thanks to that funding, Fishtown's Pool, affectionately known as "Swimmo," reopened six years after failed plumbing caused it to close.

"We were able to come in with the Rebuild dollars, work with the design team with Parks and Rec, and today we have a brand new pool," said Kira Strong, executive director of Rebuild.

The city is working with a pool staff of 500 employees, but it's still dealing with the national lifeguard shortage and is now offering higher pay of $16 per hour as well as free lifeguard training.

"We have more pools per capita than any city in the country. We have a massive number of pools here in Philadelphia," said Park & Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. "We're looking at pools in high need neighborhoods, both high crime areas. High poverty. Again, although we can't open every pool, what we look at is to try to be sure if we are closing a pool, that there's another pool in less than a mile."

Officials said pool schedules may be adjusted as needed due to the lifeguard shortage.

The City of Philadelphia says it will open 50 pools this summer.

The number represents 80% of the 63 operating outdoor pools available for use, the city's Parks and Recreation Department said Friday.

The pools will open on a rolling basis beginning Tuesday.

Twenty-six public pools are scheduled to open by July 4. The 24 remaining pools will open on a rolling basis between July 4 - 15.

The city released the following pool opening schedule:

Tuesday, June 21

Fishtown Recreation Center

Mill Creek Playground

Samuel Recreation Center

Wednesday, June 22

Barry Playground

Lawncrest Recreation Center

Penrose Playground

Thursday, June 23

Kelly Pool

Vogt Recreation Center

Pleasant Playground

Friday, June 24

Murphy Recreation Center

Mitchell Playground

Simpson Recreation Center

Monday, June 27

Bridesburg Recreation Center

Athletic Recreation Center

Ford Recreation Center

Tuesday, June 28

Awbury Playground

Jacobs Playground

Wednesday, June 29

Jardel Recreation Center

Marian Anderson Recreation Center

Max Myers Playground

Thursday, June 30

Hancock Playground

Kendrick Recreation Center

Friday, July 1

Fox Chase Recreation Center

Saturday, July 2

American Legion Playground

Cione Playground

Mander Playground

Week of July 4

Hillside Recreation Center

Christy Recreation Center

J Finnegan Playground

Northern Liberties Recreation Center

Cherashore Playground

CB Moore Recreation Center

McVeigh Recreation Center

Cobbs Creek Recreation Center

Lackman Playground

Stinger Square

O'Connor Pool

Sacks Playground

39th & Olive Playground

Lonnie Young Recreation Center

Houseman Playground

Feltonville Recreation Center

Shepard Recreation Center

Piccoli Playground

Francisville Recreation Center

Scanlon Recreation Center

Week of July 11

Hunting Park Recreation Center

Waterloo Playground

Tustin Recreation Center

FJ Myers Recreation Center

The city says the 2022 pool schedule was "developed based on equity and to maximize residents' access to pools in every part of the city. Pools were selected to open based on available staffing, geography, past pool usage data, and neighborhood need. Pool schedules will vary based on available staffing. In neighborhoods with multiple pools, the largest, or most visited pool may open, or nearby pools may operate on a split schedule to maximize community access. All pools will offer free swim lessons."

Lifeguard Shortage

Around a third to nearly half of the nation's more than 300,000 pools will likely be affected as the summer begins, according to an estimate from Bernard J. Fisher II, director of health and safety of the American Lifeguard Association.

"We definitely have a shortage," Fisher said. "The worst I've ever seen."

Dwindling interest in lifeguarding is not a new problem, according to some experts, but was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, when many pools and training sessions were shuttered and many of the young applicants who would normally apply are now choosing retail or restaurant jobs that offer higher pay. Having unmanned pools can be dangerous or even deadly, Fisher said.

To combat the shortage this year, cities across the country have upped their pay, waived training fees and are offering extra cash to bring more applicants through the door. The city of Philadelphia has raised the starting pay to $16/hour and paid the Red Cross certification fee for 16 to 24-year-old applicants.

Other efforts to recruit lifeguards by the Parks and Recreation Department included distributing more than 10,000 flyers across the city and creating a TikTok account.


The CNN-Wire contributed to this post.