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New York City Opens Public Swimming Pools for Summer, Enforces Colored T-Shirt Ban


Just in time for last weekend’s holiday season, New York City opened all 56 of its public swimming pools, with Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver leading a charge of people into the water of Sunset Park Pool in Brooklyn.

“It is cold, but it is refreshing,” Silver said. “Our pools offer a great way to beat the heat.”

This year, the city will continue enforcing its strict ban on colored t-shirts in an effort to minimize gang affiliation, representation, and potential violence at all of the city’s public swimming pools.

“Feel the need to cover up from the sun? Throw on a plain white shirt or white hat, and you’re set. We don’t allow shirts with colors on them,” the city’s Parks Department website reads.

The white-shirt rule was established nearly 20 years ago as an anti-gang measure after a series of violent events, including a 1989 shooting at Highbridge Pool in Harlem that left a 13-year-old girl dead. Banning colors such as the red of the Bloods, the blue of the Crips, and the black and gold of the Latin Kings is said to limit the possibility of potential conflicts between gang rivals.

This year, the Parks Department says the ban on colored t-shirts is also to prevent dye from bleeding into the pool. However, colored t-shirts still cannot be worn at the pools’ deck areas.

New York City’s ban on colored t-shirts comes at a time when the safety of pool water itself is raising eyebrows, and not because of bleeding dye. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report late last month revealing the dangers of chlorine-resistant microorganisms, which have caused 1,788 cases of stomach bugs, 95 hospitalizations, and one death between 2011 and 2012, the last years for which data is available.

Over half of the illnesses detailed in the report were caused by cryptosporidium, a chlorine resistant fecal-parasite that thrives underwater. In order to reduce the chances of contracting crpyto, the CDC encourages pool goers to shower before and after swimming in a pool.

On average, it’s recommended for residential pools to be turned over by the pump once every 24 hours in order to help circulate clean water. This can still be accomplished at lower speeds in order save on energy. Commercial or public pools, however, are constantly turned. Ensuring a pool’s pump is working correctly can help maintain clean, healthy water.