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Sweltering Cities Can’t Keep Enough Swimming Pools Open

About one in three public pools in the US will be shuttered this summer due to a lifeguard shortage.

New Yorkers cool off in a public swimming pool on June 29, 2021.

New Yorkers cool off in a public swimming pool on June 29, 2021.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As heat wave after heat wave settles over large swaths of the US this summer — with the latest one putting millions from the Southeast to the upper Midwest under excessive heat advisories this week — an estimated one-third of all pools will remain closed as cities face a national lifeguard shortage, according to the American Lifeguard Association.

Many cities are able to open only a fraction of their facilities, or at reduced hours. Some are canceling swimming programs as parks and recreation departments grapple with staffing challenges.