Dive into Chicago’s limited outdoor pool season

👋 Hi, Monica here. After enduring delays, scandals and staffing shortages, the Chicago Park District finally opened its outdoor pools on Tuesday.

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

Why is this important: The city is operating about half 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 access a PDF, where I learned that public swimming is limited to the afternoon after campers have finished.

  • I arrived at Chase Park and asked the guy at the front desk if I should always wear a swim cap and shower first. “Uh, that’s up to you,” he said looking at me like I was 100 years old.
  • I walked through the sparse, not very smelly locker room to the pool, stripped off my outer clothes and jumped in.
Chase Park swimming pool. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

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

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

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

Be smart: If you don’t like changing in shabby locker rooms, take a shower before you leave the house and wear a bathing suit under your clothes.

The verdict: At least Tuesday, the pool at my local park neighborhood offered a fun, free way to cool off with plenty of elbow room and towels.

Richard F. Gandhi