Friday Morning Swim Club canceled, but hundreds show up — with police monitoring

Chicago police found the group was “gathered peacefully,” but they remained at Montrose Harbor.

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Friday Morning Swim Club Montrose Harbor Chicago police officers CPD

Chicago police officers were on hand Friday during the Friday Morning Swim Club gathering at Montrose Harbor.

ABC7

The Friday Morning Swim Club was canceled this week, but hundreds still showed up to jump in, with police monitoring, at Montrose Harbor.

The organizers announced this week there would be no official jump. Still, around 6:30 a.m. Friday, hundreds arrived at the harbor to swim.

Police were called 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.

“In case you missed yesterday’s update—Swim Club will not host a swim tomorrow, 8/25. Meaning there won’t be coffee, an organized jump, photos, Mug of the Week competition, etc,” organizers posted on the club’s Instagram page. “If you’re from out of town or this is the one week you could make it, don’t let this stop you from enjoying a morning with friends.”

On Thursday before the swim club usually takes place, a Chicago Park District spokesperson said the park district was concerned that the group was still encouraging people to meet.

“The Park District is concerned that the organizers responsible for the Friday Morning Swim Club are still encouraging people to enter the water in an unsanctioned swimming area, despite their attempt to distance themselves from this week’s gathering by labeling it as ‘unofficial,’” a spokesperson said in a statement to the Sun-Times Thursday.

Parks officials said they approached organizers of the swim club about getting the event permitted in July, but never heard back from them. On Thursday, a spokesperson said they have once again been in contact with the organizers.

“The District has again been in contact with the organizers and informed them that the activity they promote requires a permit, which includes creating a safety plan.”

Friday Morning Swim Club’s growth started in 2021 by word of mouth as a way for friends to catch up before the start of the weekend. By the end of that summer, it had grown from eight to about 700 people showing up weekly.

With thousands joining the 7 a.m. gathering recently, Friday Morning Swim Club has been breaking almost every rule the Chicago Park District has about swimming — and getting away with it.

Montrose Harbor during Friday Morning Swim Club on Aug. 4, 2023 in Chicago.

Thousands attend Friday Morning Swim Club at Montrose Harbor Aug. 4.

Owen Ziliak / Sun-Times

The swim club takes place hours before swimming is allowed — and in an area that regularly attracts swimmers but is never patrolled by lifeguards, making it a nonpermitted swimming area. Blow-up floats, which are prohibited by the park district, are a staple.

Nicole Novotny, the club’s co-founder, 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.

Chicago police officers CPD Friday Morning Swim Club Montrose Harbor

Chicago police officers were present at the Aug. 25 Friday Morning Swim Club at Montrose Harbor.

ABC7

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