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‘Unofficial’ Friday Morning Swim Club Draws Large Crowds — Even After Event Canceled

A police presence watched over swimmers Friday morning.

Swimmers gather at Montrose Harbor for Friday Morning Swim Club.
Swimmers gather at Montrose Harbor for Friday Morning Swim Club.
Provided/@FridayMorningSwimClub
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CHICAGO — A renegade Lake Michigan morning swim club that has swelled to thousands of people and raised safety concerns swam on Friday morning despite the event being officially canceled.

An ABC7 chopper spotted hundreds of people — and a fleet of police officers — at Montrose Harbor around the time the Friday Morning Swim Club is usually held each summer week. Swimmers jump in, often with colorful floats that have become a signature of the unsanctioned event.

Police officers watched as about 250 people gathered peacefully at the site, a police spokesperson said.

Park District officials were also handing out flyers instructing people not to get in the water, a witness said.

The Swim Club started catching heat last week after the Sun-Times reported organizers ghosted the Chicago Park District when approached about getting the event permitted. Safety concerns have also been bubbling up as the swim takes place hours before swimming is allowed, isn’t patrolled by lifeguards and encourages floats that are technically prohibited by the Park District.

Some swimmers said increasing car traffic around the event has gotten out of control.

The event started two years ago with a group of eight friends and rapidly grew through word-of-mouth. Supporters sipping out of quirky coffee mugs and bringing creative floats have called the tradition a way to connect the community and encourage an active lifestyle.

Earlier in the week organizers canceled the organized jump for Friday, but did not say if the last-minute switch-up was connected to the wave of pushback.

“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,” organizers said in an Instagram post.

One commenter underneath said he was “unofficially on my way.”

An organizer for Friday Morning Swim Club did not immediately return a request for comment.

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