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All 24 of Cincinnati's public pools will open this summer

A lifeguard at the Evanston public pool in 2022.
Becca Costello
A lifeguard at the Evanston public pool in 2022.

All 24 public pools in Cincinnati will be open this summer for the first time in five years. The city has struggled to hire enough lifeguards to staff every pool. Only 19 pools were open by the end of last season, and only 11 were open in 2022.

"You know pools in Cincinnati, just like across the country, is about building community," said Cincinnati Recreation Commission Director Daniel Betts. "It's a safe place, a respite place, for young people, adults and seniors to actually recreate in their own backyard."

Recruitment efforts over the last few years include increasing starting pay for lifeguards from about $12 an hour to $16 an hour. And a new program pays 14-year-olds to work with the Recreation Commission to build their swimming skills so they’re ready to do lifeguard training when they turn 15.

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The city also covers the $400 cost for the American Red Cross lifeguard training course as long as the participant commits to working at a CRC pool all summer. Courses are five days; the next one starts May 28, with additional courses scheduled each of the four weeks after.

Pools in Westwood, Oakley, and Northside will open Memorial Day weekend. Seventeen more will open the Monday after the holiday. The remaining four will open a week later. All nine city spraygrounds will open May 27.

Mayor Aftab Pureval says public pools are cornerstones of the community.

"These are public spaces where families, folks of all ages and backgrounds, where they're able to actually come together," Pureval said. "When we talk about equity, about ensuring that everyone has access to opportunities to get outside and enjoy these amenities, our pools are a critical part of that equation."

Betts says they’re still recruiting for lifeguards, as well as other positions like sprayground attendants, gate monitors, and concessions.

You can see the schedule for pool openings, as well as admission fees, on the city's website.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.