I’ve grown up around swimming pools. Every summer my siblings and I were enrolled in the neighborhood swim team, and, when we weren’t swimming for competition, we were swimming for fun. Besides the early-rising and megaphone-wielding coaches, the one thing that I truly dreaded was a cold rinse in the outdoor shower before entering the pool. As a child, getting drenched before jumping in for a swim made absolutely no sense to me. If you were ever curious as to just why a quick rinse was so necessary, check out the illuminating information below!
So, why do you have to rinse off before getting into a swimming pool?
For a pool to be safe for swimmers to splash and play in, a certain chemical balance has to be maintained. Chlorine is used to kill harmful bacteria and control algae in pools. If there’s too little chlorine, you’ll get the ammonia-like smell and burning eyes. If there’s too much, all the blonde swimmers could find their light locks tinted green. After realizing that 40% of swimmers decide against the pre-pool shower, I decided to dish some information. Here’s a short list of contaminants that can be introduced into a pool by swimmers who skip the pre-pool shower.
- Body Oils
- Traces of fecal matter and urine
Are you thoroughly grossed out yet? When all of these contaminants mix with and overpower the chlorine in your, or the neighborhood’s, pool, swimmers experience the burning eyes and strong smell incorrectly associated with an abundance of chlorine.
Besides skin, eyes and nose irritation, neglecting to take a pre-swim rinse also puts you and other swimmers at risk for Recreation Swimming Illnesses (RWIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control, RWIs can cause gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most common sign of a RWI? Diarrhea. Still think skipping the shower is worth it?
The simple facts are this. Rinsing off before you swim is simply safer for you and the swimmers around you. Chlorine doesn’t kill every bacterium instantly. The less contaminants you and other swimmers introduce into a public swimming area, the better.
If everyone followed the pre-swim shower rules, it would make for a safe, healthy and clean swimming experience for everyone involved. If you’re a lifeguard, keep an eye on the new arrivals and point them toward the shower. If you’re a parent, make sure that your kids aren’t contributing contaminants to the pool. A little forethought will go a long way in making summer swimming safer for everyone.