Update: 07/11/2024: An earlier version of this article did not include the updated figures for City lifeguards. The City now has 800 lifeguards.

Recently, NYC’s outdoor public pools—including the McCarren Park Pool—reopened for the summer season. However, due to the continued lifeguard shortage, dedicated adult lap swimming is canceled. Simply enough, the Parks Department posted the below message on their site.

Due to limited staffing, outdoor Adult Lap Swim will not occur during summer 2024. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Instead, outdoor pools will just be open for general swim. The program hasn’t been back since pools reopened after 2020 pandemic shutdowns. In May, Hell Gate was told by a Parks Department spokesperson that there were only 300 lifeguards, however, Parks now tells us that the number of available lifeguards has increased to 800.

The increase in lifeguards means that McCarren Pool staff have been able to set up a lap lane for adults when the conditions are right. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing in advance when that might be, so you just have to show up and hope for the best (if that sounds confusing it’s because it is confusing).

In May, the Adams administration and NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue announced changes to the lifeguard program amid negotiations with the City lifeguard union (via an arbitration panel), DC 37 Local 461, to make it easier to hire new lifeguards. The decision marks “the largest changes to the lifeguard contract in decades” according to Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion, and modifies physical qualifications for becoming a lifeguard aligning with state regulations and industry standards in hopes of getting trainees through the program faster.

Hopefully this suggests the program will be back by next summer and the days of navigating roped-off pool sections and first-time swimmers to get some laps in will cease. But until then, lap hopefuls should prepare for a “free for all” and “a waste of beautiful lap lanes” according to social media sentiment.

The pool is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with a break for pool cleaning between 3 and 4, and closes for the season on Sunday, September 9. And you might as well read the pool rules beforehand to avoid waiting in snaking lines just to get turned away.

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  1. We live in the richest city in the richest country in the world, and we are only able to open half a pool for ten weeks a year. Pathetic.

  2. I’m curious what the 1 hour “cleaning” entails because I’ve been there a handful of times so far this year and there’s already so much hair in the pool, it’s revolting. Single strands and clumps – so many! I want to believe they are cleaning it, but have seen no evidence of that yet.

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