View Full Version : The dreaded water temp question

December 12th, 2017, 09:42 PM
Small struggle going on here. My normal pool has shortened their hours for the winter months, ridiculously from 11am-1pm and then from 2-4pm. And you loose 30 minutes each time while they remove the pool cover.

All not lost. I can drive 40 minutes to the neighboring YMCA that has an indoor pool and use that pretty much anytime. It's a little shorter, 25yd vs 25m. But the major issue seems to be water temp. I believe the pool is very close to 90 degrees, feels warm, bathwater warm, when I get into it. Also it appears that the pride of this pool is their synchronized swim team and I believe this is the reason for the warmer temps (along with the water aerobics for the senior crowd). Each group is great in their own respects, but I am wondering how to survive these higher temps? I am sort of high maintenance when it comes to too hot... or too cold.

My primary goal is distance as I train for open water events. I am not a sprinter, nor do I train for pool meets.

I didn't even connect it until today when I struggled with a 2500yd workout and I normally do 5Km. I got out of the pool and felt a little "wobbly" on the deck.

Anyone else deal with this?


December 13th, 2017, 10:03 AM
I've swam in hot pools before - really anything over about 84 is uncomfortable. It's not safe, especially if you're doing things at high intensity. Your body depends on temperature differential to cool itself (you don't have a compressor and condenser with refrigerant in your body like an air conditioner or refrigerator does), and the closer ambient gets to core body temp, the less efficiently it can throw off heat, especially in the water compared to air, with sweat being ineffective and different heat transfer rates compared to air.

IIRC, the water temperature when Fran Crippen died swimming open water was around 87 degrees.

December 13th, 2017, 10:26 AM
Sometimes you just won't win. The only thing I could suggest is chatting with the synchro coach and see if that is their ideal water temp. When I swam with the Mesa masters group, they also had a great synchro team, who didn't seem to complain about swimming in the same pool as many other groups. But that could be due to the coaches. The only thing they couldn't control was the water temp in summer. We'd sometimes get close to 90, even with aerators running overnight.

My current team recently dissolved and several of the swimmers went to a nearby Y. I tried it once, and experienced both the high water temp as well as stagnant air. I really wanted to like it, as I like the coach, as well as swimming with a group. But I knew it was a losing battle to even try changing things...so I just swim solo at the pool my team had used. It isn't ideal, and sometimes the water temp is still high. But at least since I'm swimming outside I won't get the stagnant air.

December 13th, 2017, 10:28 AM
There is a recent related thread in the Forum Announcements and Questions section

December 13th, 2017, 12:48 PM
I find hot pools to be uncomfortable to swim in, especially living here in the desert. I've never really had much experience with heated pools though.

Mark Usher
December 13th, 2017, 01:26 PM
We get bumped from our 50 meter competition pool to our 4 lane x 25 yard teaching pool this time every year when college teams come down to train in the big pool over the Holidays.
The teaching pool is normally used for water aerobics and beginning kids and is kept around 84.
So not only is the small pool it more crowded, but is also a lot warmer than the big pool.
With an average ambient air temp in the 40's, it feels good when you get in, not so much when you get out.
We tend to do more drill work with shorter intervals to help keep from overheating.
I try to make sure that I always have my water bottle at the end of the lane and take a sip between most intervals to stay hydrated.

December 13th, 2017, 04:53 PM
AS Mark indicated above, Make sure you have a water bottle and sip between intervals to stay hydrated. You don't know how much you are sweating in the water, AND as I've gotten older, I feel dehydration to a mush lesser degree too. A recipe for disaster.

Ys are notorious for keeping their pools too warm, and 90 is ridiculous. That's approaching a hot tub not a pool.

December 14th, 2017, 12:24 PM
There is an old story that goes something like this. If a frog hops in a pot of water and you raise the temperature very slowly, it will stay in the water regardless of how hot the water becomes. It acclimates to the temperature. We swimmers can be the same way if we adapt to the conditions.

30 years ago, the YMCA pool had temperature control issues that lasted for several years. Sometimes the water would reach 92 degrees. At first, it was pretty uncomfortable, so we added time to our intervals, decreased intensity, and focused on technique (distance per stroke, extreme push-offs, etc.). I also looked at this in a similar way as training at altitude or for runners in hot climates. The added stress would improve my physical conditioning. It all worked.

After 3 - 4 weeks, we adjusted and it did not seem as hot. Getting in the water was far easier, joints/muscled ached less, technical things were easier because we were relaxed, and I did not overheat in meets when the water was cooler. In the end, my times were substantially better. And, for me anyway, at the end of my 5,000 yd practices when I was pushing 160-170 heart rate for much of it, I would often be shivering because my body had gotten very good at shedding heat.

What we thought was going to be a huge detriment to our training actually became a huge benefit because we adapted and focused on the most important aspects of our training. I ended up training as hard as anytime in my life and had the fastest times as well.

Perhaps this will help you see the possible benefit of a situation that is typically considered bad for swimmers.

Good Luck.

December 14th, 2017, 02:46 PM
and I did not overheat in meets when the water was cooler.

This is actually a very nice advantage of training in a warmer pool. I train in a pool that's kept around 85 and I can still deal with meets in cold water, but meets in warmer water are way more tolerable than they were when I was training in a cooler pool. That said, 90 is awfully hot to train in!

December 14th, 2017, 06:08 PM
Working as a lifeguard at the pool that I currently swim, and others I've worked at over the years...part of the lifeguarding duties are recording the chemical levels, and air and water temperature hourly. It has been my experience that 82*F for the water AND air seem to be optimal for all. Not perfect for hard swimmers, nor for the elders in the aquarobics classes. But, I have noticed that when the water temp increases by just one degree to 83...everyone comments that the water feels like bath water. When it decreases by just one degree to 81...everyone comments that it's like ice water. That's how sensitive the body is. So maybe you AND THE OTHER SWIMMERS can get the pool manager to work the water temp down close to that. And the air temp matters too. If they won't budge on the water temp...see if he'll do something with the air. Cooler air makes the water seem warmer when you get in. They could bring the air AND the water temp down equally and could find a satisfactory setting for all. Good luck.


December 15th, 2017, 08:17 PM
Thanks all!!!