After a rough summer in 2022 when a lifeguard shortage left the Chicago Park District scrambling to open even a fraction of its pools, the district doubled down on recruitment efforts in 2023.
The tactics, including signing bonuses and other incentives, appear to have worked.
Andy Walsh, the district’s manager of beaches and pools, reported that 1,827 people had applied to be lifeguards, more than twice the number last year.
The goal is to open all of the Park District’s indoor and outdoor pools June 23, he said. Beaches opened May 26.
Pools are currently being filled, Walsh told the Park District Board of Commissioners during the group’s monthly meeting on Wednesday.
He further outlined the schedule, which would have pools closing on Aug. 20, timed with the start of classes for Chicago Public Schools. Beaches will close Sept. 4.
Rosa Escareño, Park District CEO and general superintendent, said she and her team were aware of concerns that Chicagoans would once again be left and high and dry, and said she was “very, very hopeful” of making the June 23 goal.
“We have done everything possible to get there,” she said, but added there was much work still to be done to “onboard” not only lifeguards but all summer staff in the next week or two.
“We’re still working through the process,” she said.