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Friday Morning Swim Club canceled for the summer

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Days after hundreds showed up to an “unofficial” swim club at Montrose Harbor, the organizers of the popular Friday Morning Swim Club announced there will be no more official swims this summer season.

“We will not host any additional swims this summer due to last Friday’s events and the complex communication that is happening between the Chicago Park District and the city,” organizers said in a video posted to the club’s Instagram on Tuesday.

The group will instead host other free events throughout the rest of the season, which they said would be announced in the coming days.

“What happened last Friday isn’t what we envisioned for swim club, ever,” organizer Andrew Glatt said in the video.

“We weren’t present, but from what we were told multiple parks district employees, CPD officers seeking out people specifically with swim club gear threatening to arrest them, or myself and Nicole had we been there,” Glatt said, referring to co-founder Nicole Novotny.

Police were called last Friday over to the 4400 block of North DuSable Lake Shore Drive and found the group was “gathered peacefully,” but officers remained on hand to monitor.

The Chicago Park District and Chicago Police Department didn’t immediately respond to questions regarding officers’ handling of the Aug. 25 event.

On Aug. 24, a Chicago Park District spokesperson said the park district was concerned that the group was still encouraging people to meet, even after organizers called off the Aug. 25 swim.

Parks officials said they approached organizers of the swim club about getting the event permitted in July, but never heard back from them. 

Novotny has previously said organizers had looked into getting a permit but didn’t apply for one since the harbor where the club takes place isn’t listed in the permit application.

Friday Morning Swim Club started in 2021 as eight friends meeting up at Montrose Harbor every Friday morning to swim and catch up before the weekend. That summer, the club grew to around 700 people through word-of-mouth.

During the 2023 season, the club attracted over 3,000 swimmers each Friday, thanks in part to viral videos of the meet-up on social media. Even Mayor Brandon Johnson and the city’s tourism agency shouted out the club in now-deleted posts.

Lifeguards and water safety experts have expressed concerns over the club, which meets in an area that isn’t monitored by lifeguards and relies on unapproved floatation devices that have been long banned by the park district.



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