Jul 7, 2022 - Things to Do

Diving into the limited outdoor pool season

Girl in pool

Monica cools off in the Chase Park pool Tuesday after a long half-week of work. Photo courtesy of Natasha O'Brien

👋 Hey, Monica here. After suffering delays, scandal and staffing shortages, the Chicago Park District finally opened its outdoor pools Tuesday.

  • Naturally, I took a break between press conferences to jump in.

Why it matters: The city is operating just about half of its usual number of pools this year, which could change this classic Chicago summer experience.

How it works: The online pool schedule requires clicking through several windows to a PDF, where I learned that public swimming is restricted to the afternoon, after day campers are through.

  • I got to Chase Park and asked the dude at the desk if I still had to wear a bathing cap and take a shower first. "Um, that's up to you," he said, looking at me like I was 100 years old.
  • I walked through the sparse, not-great-smelling locker room into the pool area, pulled off my outer clothes and jumped in.
an outdoor pool
Chase Park pool. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The crowds: At 4:15pm, 10 people (mostly families) sat on the edges while 16 swam and two lifeguards watched the huge pool.

The water: Cool, clear and not nearly as icy as the park pools of my youth.

The availability: Despite the cutbacks, officials say there are still open pools located within two miles of most Chicago residents.

Be smart: If you don't like changing in dingy locker rooms, shower before leaving home and wear a bathing suit under your clothes.

The verdict: At least on Tuesday, my local park district pool offered a fun, free way to cool off with plenty of elbow — and towel — room.


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