Elizabeth Levine

As air conditioning became ubiquitous and public and private pools offered diving boards, water slides and chlorinated cleanliness, public beaches lost their allure both here and across the country. The Madison numbers bear out the great shift. City records show that 15 years ago, 100,000 swimmers spent their summer days at the 13 beaches the city staffed with lifeguards. By 2007, attendance had plummeted to a little more than 30,000 swimmers, and only ten lifeguard-staffed beaches remained. more