Philadelphians enjoy more public pools per capita than any other U.S. city

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 Swimmers enjoy John B. Kelly pool next to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Swimmers enjoy John B. Kelly pool next to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

When the summer heat hits, many Philadelphians think of a trip to the beach or the local public pool. Recreation officials say Philadelphia has a claim to fame that ought to convince city residents to stay put: It has more public pools per capita than any other city in the country.

Why brave the traffic to the Shore when you can just head over to the neighborhood public pool with its sparkling water?

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis said the 50 meters of Kelly Pool, tucked next to the Please Touch Museum, make it the largest in the city’s 70-pool system.

“Our pools are not giant. New York has these giant pools, maybe two times or three times bigger than this one,” he said. “Most of our pools are 25 meters, and they’re in every neighborhood in the city.”

Keeping up all those pools takes serious cash.

Each year the city spends $2.3 million to maintain and staff the pools, DiBerardinis said.

Kelly Pool supervisor Donald Hutchins called the rectangle of gleaming blue, “the city’s best kept secret.” He said Kelly draws a diverse group of swimmers.

“We have everyone come out here — from different races … different people. We have a lot of [people who do] triathlons come out here to swim laps. We had people from England come here last year, from Germany,” he said. “So everybody likes the spot we have here.”

But best get in those laps while you can … the city’s pools will start closing Friday.

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