Chicago, IL

Will public pools open this summer in Chicago?

Jennifer Geer

Chicago Park District increases lifeguard sign-on bonus to $600 amid nationwide shortage, but city pools aren't set to open until July 5.

(CHICAGO) There is nothing like a refreshing swim to cool you down on a hot day. However, in Chicago, most park district pools have remained closed so far this summer.

A lifeguard shortage is affecting the nation, and it's the reason Chicago pools are still closed this far into June.

Bonuses offered for lifeguards

In an effort to recruit new lifeguards, the Chicago Park District has upped its sign-on bonus for new hires and existing lifeguards.

The original sign-on and retention bonus, announced in May, was $500. It's now been raised to $600.

According to a press release from the park district in May,

“As we prepare for our busiest season in the parks coming out of the pandemic, we want to do all we can to attract and retain the most qualified and enthusiastic seasonal workforce possible,” said General Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “The retention bonus is the District’s measure to ensure we are paying competitive wages that are in line with other public sector employers in this competitive marketplace and compensating our summer workers for the important work they do to serve our communities.”

Will park district pools open in the city this summer?

Despite the efforts to hire lifeguards, the park district's website show pools remain closed with no plans to reopen. According to NBC5 Chicago, pools are scheduled to open on June 24.

Update 6/18/22: On Friday, June 17, the Chicago Park District announced pools will not open until July 5th.

The statement said, "Opening pools on July 5th will allow the district additional time to recruit and implement a strategy that provides pool resources to as many communities as possible this summer. We continue to attract applicants daily and need time to complete the required testing and certification and onboard new hires.”

What are the incentives for Chicago lifeguards?

The park district is offering the following incentives:

  • $600 retention and new recruit bonus
  • $500 referral bonus for existing park district employees who refer qualified candidates
  • A chance to have year-round employment for seasonal lifeguards
  • You don't have to be a city resident to work as a park district lifeguard

How to apply

You can apply for the lifeguard position online here.

Why is there a lifeguard shortage?

An article from NPR explains that during the pandemic, there was little chance for teens to get training and experience as lifeguards and swim teachers. This caused the lifeguard shortage, affecting about a third of public pools across the nation.

Are Chicago beaches open?

Chicago beaches have opened for the season, but swimming is currently prohibited unless lifeguards are on duty. Check here for updated lists of swimming conditions before you go.

What about splash pads?

According to the park district, "Water spray features are in the process of being turned on for the 2022 season. They will all be on by Friday, June 24." You can find a map of parks with water spray features here.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

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