The Perry public swimming pool in Phoenix sits empty on July 19 during a record heat wave after being closed and drained. 
Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / AFP / Getty 

This summer, it’s hot. We don’t need to tell you. America’s been suffering a catastrophic heat wave for more than a month—no part of the country has been immune. That means people are scrambling to cope. Recently, the president even issued the country’s first-ever heat wave “hazard alert” for workers. But there’s one obvious, no-brainer option for staying cool. And across the country, it’s failing.

More than half of Boston’s city pools closed this summer. The same thing happened in Jacksonville, Florida. And in Atlanta, all the outdoor public pools closed for the rest of the summer before July even ended. Pool closures have plagued American cities for years. Officials blame crumbling infrastructure and, recently, lifeguard shortages. About a third of the nation’s public pools were affected by staffing issues last year. According to the American Lifeguard Association, 2023 is as bad or worse.

“We really just haven’t prioritized swimming in this […]

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