Is indoor swimming a health hazard?

No swimmer and their fans wants to think about it, but it is a reality for anyone who spends time in a indoor aquatic centres: chemicals in the pool and in the air. Indoor pools are convenient, but without proper maintenance, they can become incredibly dangerous for swimmers and fans alike. The dangerous chemicals that treat the pools can wreak havoc on lungs, skin, and eyes, too. Some swimmers have actually been hospitalised for overexposure to the dangerous chemicals.


Unfortunately, not much has been done to regulate the air quality and the water quality in indoor aquatic centres. And, as of yet, no one has conducted any long-term studies on swimmers to see how their chemical exposure affects them as they age. This is problematic, especially considering that swimmers need to rely on healthy air and water in order to breathe and perform at their best.


Many people do point to chlorine as a culprit for harsh water and air, but it is not alone. One of the biggest troubles comes from a chemical called a chloramine. These are created with molecules from other sources react with chlorine. One of the biggest problems for swimmers is actually urea and how it reacts with chlorine. And, urea comes from urine. Yup…peeing in the pool is one of the biggest problems with water and air quality.


So, these chloramine become agitated then they irritate the skin and the lungs. People in indoor aquatic centres begin to cough. These pesky little chloramines sit right above the water surface where they are the most concentrated. This is why so many swimmers inhale them and suffer from the consequences. When too much chlorine is put in the pool, the chloramines increase, too.


Sadly, this problem with chloramines cannot be remedied with a fan or an open door. The little molecules stay right where they are. In the colder months, opening the doors makes the matter worse. The cold air does not do anything with the chloramines; but, it can create a cool looking cloud over the pool as the air settles.


Interestingly, there are two easy solutions for this problem. The first is that people should stop peeing in the pool. The second is that swimmers should shower prior to swimming. This removes other oils and issues that can create chloramines. Sweat and oils from the body increase the number of chloramines. The big problem for those who manage an indoor aquatic centre is that they do not know how to enforce this issue. If people would simply do these two things, pools and the air quality inside of the space would improve and swimming organizations would not have to pay anything extra.


There is another solution, but it is more expensive. An ultra-violet filter system is one of the best tools for destroying all of the harmful molecules that get into swimming pools. Instead of running pool water through the traditional filtration systems, the UV filter will destroy viruses, chloramines, and other harmful substances that end up in the water. To filter water with a UV system, a tube with ultraviolet light is added to the filter. While this is a great system to use, the big problem comes with the fact that it takes a long time to filter all of the water. Big pools require at least six hours of filtration time to zap all of the water. This is not fast enough – especially in pools that are busy with meets. During meets or busy practices, the buildup of chloramines can be overwhelming.


Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control has gotten involved in the issue. The CDC does recommend adding fresh air to indoor aquatic centres. It also recommends using air systems that force the tainted air out of the facilities. Without good air circulation, problems will continue.


As swimming continues to increase in popularity, the troubles with air and water quality will also increase, unless something is done. Major studies need to take place to protect the present and future of athletes who spend their time in the pool. In some cases, the health issues have become so serious that swimmers are known to cough so hard that they begin vomiting.

The female body image & swimming.

 One of the most controversial topics in all of sports is the idea of body image. Elite athletes are supposed to look fit and fabulous with toned muscles, six-pack abs, and no body fat. For female athletes, especially swimmers, the struggle to look a certain way can be physically and mentally draining.

Every sport has its own uniform, but other than gymnastics, the swimmers’ uniform is one of the most revealing. It is pretty easy to tell how a swimmer looks, because there is no way to hide anything in a suit. So, it is easy for coaches, opponents, and peers to see if swimmers have put on a few pounds. Because of this, swimmers need to take good care of themselves on the inside and the outside.


The human body is always changing and the female body changes practically daily. Female swimmers might feel fabulous and strong one day and then not just a few days later. One of the biggest issues facing female swimmers is that their broad muscular shoulders and strong legs do not transfer into the world of fashion and sex appeal. Many female swimmers feel strong and amazing while they are swimming and training for their events, but not when they leave the pool and wander out into the world.


Female swimmers do not have petite little bodies that attract the opposite sex – or so some female swimmers think. Female swimmers often feel masculine when they are with people who are not swimmers. It can be difficult for female swimmers to find clothing that fits them in an attractive way because of their muscular bodies. Instead of having the thin arms, curvy waists, and large breasts, athletic swimmers have quite the opposite – all because of their training. It can be difficult for female swimmers, especially those in their late teens and early twenties, to want to keep swimming because the pull to fit in with everyone else is so strong.


Instead, women who swim need to look at the world through their own lenses. Understanding that they are elite athletes can create a positive body image. Female swimmers need to develop their own personal pride in their amazing physiques and their amazing abilities. They are beyond normal – not less than normal. Lifting weights and swimming laps will not keep people from loving them; in reality, it will encourage people to love them, because the female swimmers are who they are – strong, beautiful, athletic women.


In order to build and maintain a positive body image and a positive mental outlook on life, many athletic female swimmers have changed a few things in their lives. It is important to cultivate their mental health by building confidence. This can happen by making a few changes:


  • Some swimmers have surrounded themselves with images of other strong female swimmers, rather than images of slender non-athletes. Having pictures of swimmers and other female athletes helps reinforce that their athletic bodies are attractive and desirable. The ESPN Body issue is full of quality images of real female athletes whose bodies show the different ways that women can look.


  • Some female swimmers and other athletes also use positive words to help them get through their days when they are not surrounded with fellow swimmers. It is important to remember how strong and beautiful the swimmer’s body is.


  • Many female swimmers stay away from the scale, unless it is needed for training. There are other methods to judge how the body looks. Checking weight can be deceiving, especially since muscle is more dense than fat.


  • If issues with body image become problematic, there is nothing wrong with getting psychological help. There are psychologists who specialize in this issue and they know how to work with female athletes. It is better to get help than to suffer from mental struggles.