After a hiatus since 2019, the Parks Department is offering free youth swim classes at a handful of pools in the city.

Learn to Swim is being offered at limited capacity this summer after the program was canceled last year due to the lifeguard shortage that impacted the city and the country.

“We continue to plan long term for the lifeguard shortage as we build back our corp to pre-pandemic levels,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donohue said. “We also understand the grave importance of teaching the next generation how to swim.”

Learn to Swim will be offered at six outdoor city pools: The Crotona Pool in the Bronx, Red Hook Pool in Brooklyn, Hamilton Fish Park in Manhattan, The Liberty and Fisher pools in Queens and the Lyons pool on Staten Island.

What You Need To Know

  • Learn to Swim is the city’s free swimming lesson program

  • One thousand slots are open through a lottery for kids ages 6 to 17 years old

  • City pools open June 29, and the lottery opens in mid-June

The slots to participate will be given out through a lottery.

One thousand slots are open for kids ages 6 to 17 years old.

Josh Blakely has spent summers at the Hamilton Fish Park pool for more than a decade.

“We love this pool,” Josh Blakely, Lower East Side resident, said.

He told NY1 he has great memories at this pool and hopes to eventually see Learn to Swim implemented at full capacity at all city pools.

“I wish that every child could get the classes if they wanted them, but it is more than nothing,” Blakely said.

City Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, who represents Queens and is the chair of the council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation, says there are disparities in access to swim education in the city.

“Learning how to swim is a crucial life skill and so many of our communities, especially communities of color immigrant communities, do not have access to pools and many children do not know how to swim,” Krishnan said.

Krishnan says legislation is advancing in the City Council to expand access to pools and free swimming lessons, and to require updates on lifeguard staffing.  

All efforts to prepare the next generation of swimmers, like Blakley’s six-month-old Arlo.

“We can get him in there. We’re gonna do it,” said.

City pools open June 29, and the lottery opens in mid-June.

To apply, head to the Parks Department’s website.