Local residents can soak up the sun at one of 70 pools or more than 100 spray parks throughout the city this summer.
By Kerith Gabriel
In addition to summer, this week marks the opening rollout of Philadelphia’s massive network of pools.
Through June 29, the city’s parks and recreation division will put the finishing touches on over 70 pools and over 100 spray parks throughout the city, a $3 million investment that will see many sections of the city have their pools ready in time for the official start of summer on Thursday.
Kathryn Ott Lovell, the commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Rec, says the undertaking is an annual labor of love and dedication, but also considerable time and investment. Before the opening of pools each year, Ott Lovell noted there’s only about eight weeks for crews to get out to neighborhood pool sites and recreation centers to get them ready. In some cases, it’s just a repaint, power wash and fill, but for every pool that easy there are the ones that require maintenance that will chew up all the time allotted to get them ready.
Open generally from 11–7 each day, each pool has its own lifeguard on staff and offers family and adult times. But perhaps the one thing Ott Lovell wanted to note is that every city pool, regardless of size, offers free swim lessons on site.
“The national trend of children, specifically children within our inner cities that do have access to swimming pools and not knowing how to swim, we’re actually seeing a considerable uptick in drownings nationwide,” said Ott Lovell. “So it’s really important for families to know that Philadelphia has more pools than any city our size and that there’s free swim lessons at all of those pools.”
By comparison, Philadelphia, a city with roughly 1.6 million people, has access to 70 pools broken out by region. In New York, there are only 54 public outdoor pools in the five boroughs to serve 8.5 million people.
Oh and this year? NYC pools don’t open officially until June 27.
“It’s something that the city has just prioritized,” said Ott Lovell, on the city’s devotion to opening the number of neighborhood pools each year. “We’ve just made this commitment to have these pools available for our citizens and it’s expensive every year, but to me as someone that grew up in Philly and is raising a family in Philly, it’s just part of summer in Philly and part of our culture to have area pools open up each year.”
The misconception that public pools are dirty or unkept is one that really gets under Ott Lovell’s skin, considering the work that goes into getting them ready. Many of the private pools in Philadelphia come with high membership fees, but beyond that, waiting lists that sometimes can last months or even years. The only downside to city pools, according to Ott-Lovell, is that there may be a delay if a pool is at capacity.
“Our pools operate the exact same way as any private pool you’ll find out there,” said Ott Lovell. “We hire qualified staff to run them and as lifeguards, we train staff, as for the pools themselves, they are maintained, all of the mechanicals are checked and inspected both by the health department and by our our own staff. Pools are crowded and sometimes there’s more people in line than we can accommodate, but if that’s the only downside, then I think we’re doing OK.” ••
Schedule your swim:
Here is a comprehensive schedule of when you can expect the pool in your neighborhood to be open for the season.
• Tuesday, June 19
s- Lawncrest Recreation Center | 6000 Rising Sun Ave., 19111
• Wednesday, June 20
Max Myers Playground | 1601 Hellerman St., 19149
• Thursday, June 21
Jardel Recreation Center | 1400 Cottman Ave., 19111
Vogt Recreation Center | 4131 Unruh Ave., 19135
• Saturday, June 23
Lackman Playground | 1101 Bartlett St., 19115
• Monday, June 25
Lincoln Pool | 3201 Ryan Ave., 19136
Mitchell Playground | 3700 Whitehall Lane, 19114
• Tuesday, June 26
Jacobs Playground | 4500 Linden Ave., 19114
• Wednesday, June 27
Houseman Recreation Center | 5091 Summerdale Ave., 19124
Simpson Recreation Center | 1010 Arrott St., 19124
• Thursday, June 28
American Legion Playground | 6201 Torresdale Ave., 19135
s- Philadelphia’s special Swim Philly location.
Schedules are subject to change.
Calendar courtesy of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.