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View Full Version : Air quality in the bubble at LC Nationals in Savannah



henry
August 23rd, 2004, 03:29 PM
First of all I would like to start this thread by saying this is the BEST ORGANIZED swim meet I have ever had the pleasure to compete in. Absolutely EVERYTHING was taken care of by Scott Rabalais and his group. Thanks for an awesome time!!

I do have something to complain about, and it was the air quality inside the bubble. I know many of my teammates at NC Masters are still suffering from the effects of the chlorine. I had a very difficult time breathing on Saturday and Sunday, especially after each of my events. I felt I could not take a deep breath. I have asked many of my teammates about this, and most of them had the same problem.

Did anyone experience something similar??

etrain
August 23rd, 2004, 03:57 PM
I heard a lot of people saying that they were having a hard time breathing, personally I thought it was quite nice. Usually I am coughing and stuff about 10 minutes into a workout at the current pool I swim at. I swam 2200m (1500m, 400m IM, 200m breast, 50 breast on rely, and 50m free in relay) on Friday and I don't think I coughed once. Our pool uses Tarn Pure and not the normal chlorine so I might have an allergy with it and not chlorine, so this could be why I was fine at Savannah.:D

Glenn
August 23rd, 2004, 07:10 PM
I swam at least one event on each of the four days and I did not have a problem. And I am an asthmatic. No wheezing or coughing. I think the air was better than here in Southern California! (But than again I don't trust any air I can't see.)

It was a great meet!

valhallan
August 23rd, 2004, 08:22 PM
I didn't go, but a fellow from our club was there for the distance events (mens 60-65) and experienced the same difficulty breathing. He mentioned that his times were off, but said it had more to do with lack of heavy training this summer. We are spoiled however with some very clean ocean air out on the east end of the island.

Conniekat8
August 23rd, 2004, 08:25 PM
My eyes were burning after the 1st day and a half.

Fritz
August 23rd, 2004, 10:29 PM
I think it was Friday when I noticed my throat was burning and then I started hacking at night. Out of control at times. I had a real hard time for several days. I've never had a reaction like this one before and hope to never again.

Rob Copeland
August 24th, 2004, 09:05 AM
I too was short of breath and had burning eyes, but I thought it was due to finally meeting Conniekat8;)

tjburk
August 24th, 2004, 09:46 AM
Nary a problem for me! When we put the bubble up on our pool in the winter, there are several kids that start having problems breathing when the chlorine gets above 5 ppm. If I keep it around 1-3 ppm they have no problems. With the amount of swimmers that weekend, they may have raised the chlorine level to keep all the little nasties down!! Not that any of you have any little nasties on you!!!:D

joy
August 24th, 2004, 10:29 AM
The minute my daughter & I stepped in the door the chlorine was so strong it took your breath away. She as a spectator had to get up many times and go outside for fresh air. I was short of breath after each event more so than usual and I am asthmatic also. We did not stay between events because of the chlorine and the heat inside the pool. I thought it was way to hot.
On the other hand the meet was one of the best I have attended
They did a fantastic job of running the meet and all the little things that were done by all for the swimmers. Thanz to Scott and all the volunteers for all the hard work they provided to put on such a well run meet

Scansy
August 24th, 2004, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by tjburk
Nary a problem for me! When we put the bubble up on our pool in the winter, there are several kids that start having problems breathing when the chlorine gets above 5 ppm. If I keep it around 1-3 ppm they have no problems. With the amount of swimmers that weekend, they may have raised the chlorine level to keep all the little nasties down!! Not that any of you have any little nasties on you!!!:D

Of course swimmers don't have little nasties on them. They all jump off in the water.:eek:

swimshark
August 24th, 2004, 12:19 PM
I agree, what a great meet! Scott and his helpers all deserve a great big thank you.

But, I did experience breathing problems. I felt like I was swimming at high altitude and could not get a deep breath. Plus, I was sneezing the whole time I was there. Same with my mom. I just wonder if it was just stale air inside the bubble, without fresh coming in.

pettijohn
August 25th, 2004, 01:49 PM
I had a very difficult time breathing on Friday especially during and after the 400 IM. I felt I could not take a deep breath, especially during the breast leg. During my warm down I felt nausea. I had this feeling the rest of the day. The worse part was the loathing for food. I was not able to eat Friday night. I started to feel better on Saturday ( I stayed outside the bubble for most of the day). Yeah, I was able to eat a great dinner that night at the Toucan Cafe.

The organization around the meet was great. My husband and I enjoyed Savannah.

Fly Free
August 30th, 2004, 05:49 PM
Both of my parents, many friends from the Northwest, including myself, all had problems with the air. Our problems ranged from sore throats, painful, watery eyes, sneezing profusely, and when we got home some of us wound up with ear infections between that and the plane flight. We're pretty much over it now, but it was really strange.

People who were there for only one race a day probably didn't notice it, but I spent all of Friday there and definitely felt the consequences.

Small price to pay for such a well run meet though. Thank you Scott and all of the members of your team and committee!

jseidler
August 31st, 2004, 11:06 PM
I have asthma and severely reduced lung capacity such that the only stroke I can do is backstroke. I did have a problem with getting enough air when I sat in the bleachers near the starting end of the pool. But, on days 2-3-4, I stayed at the other end of the pool, near the televisions, where the air was blowing out from the portable air conditioners. I was able to breathe comfortably there. I did not have a problem in competition and swam good times. I didn't think the chlorine was an issue for me. It seemed that the availability of oxygen was the issue.

I would come to the meet facility again and stay by the portable air conditioners as I did on days 2, 3 and 4.

Scott did an excellent job of running the meet. I especially appreciated the newsletters before the meet.

swimmore
September 1st, 2004, 12:36 PM
Scott ran a great meet and if the air was the only problem that tells us much about how well the volunteers worked to assist Scott. Thank you very much. My wife was one of the swimmers that had the same response from the air. It cleared up after taking some Claritin and rest. I thought it going to bother myself but yelling "ready go" has caused the sore throat. It was well worth it and once again Thank you for a great nationals.

Fritz
September 1st, 2004, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by swimmore
Scott ran a great meet and if the air was the only problem ...

Isn't an air problem a pretty big problem at a swim meet? Yes the meet was run well. No criticism at all about the organization. I've never run a meet anywhere close to that size and my hat is off to the folks that do it but I go to the national meet to swim well, not to just participate in a well run meet. I would not go back.

henry
September 1st, 2004, 03:20 PM
I started this thread with a caveat that the meet organization was incredible and with absolutely no intention to say something negative in that regards.
However I do agree 100% with Fritz about the importance of "good quality" air at a meet of this caliber.
As a serious competitive swimmer a trained my heart out for this particular meet. Long Course Nationals is when I intend to swim my fastest times of the year. Unfortunately I had very disappointing times, even though I had had some decent times two weeks prior in an LC meet well before shave, taper, Fastkin suit and all the things we old guys do to shed a couple of tenths off our times. I fully expected to go a second or two faster at LC Nats.
I felt as if I was taking half breaths during my swims. We all know what happens on the last 15 meters of any race when you have no oxygen...
It is very obvious that more than just a handful of people got affected by just reading the responses.
Hopefully something positive will come out of this forum. Maybe the Chatham County facility will make sure they have enough air filters or additional equipment to handle a meet of this size in the future.

swimmore
September 1st, 2004, 04:37 PM
Henry and my fellow swimmers;

The air quality is a factor anywhere you may swim; some of us from the south may not be able to handle the air in San Diego. I have bad allergies in certain parts of the country and it is better than others.

Even though that we swim and prepare for meets, the environment will affect your swim, bike, run, or any other sport. It is part of the competition to over come these factors. This happens to all calibers of athletes and does not matter where the meet is hosted, the problems with the environment will be an issue. I know that if you have an issue in regards to future meets the championship committee would like to have your information in regards to the good and bad on the hosted event.

Good luck at future meets and be prepared for all aspects of the sport.

Coach Steven

breastroker
September 1st, 2004, 05:08 PM
Almost any large 50 meter indoor swim pool can have air problems. My worst day swimming was in 97 at Tacoma LCM nationals. The first day I could hardly breath, in fact I could not even swim a full breaststroke pulldown underwater. Normally I try to do at least 4 seperate lengths underwater to open up my poor asthmatic lungs. It could have been just the difference in types of pollen in the air, combined with the heat and chlorine. In my 100 breast I went out in 29.6 and came back in a 37+, not exactly great splits.

I took my asthma medicine, had a good nights sleep and felt better the next day. I swam 6 lengths underwater in warm up, had a great massage and won the 50 breast.

So a lot of how well you swim is how you attack the problems around you. Most of us know swimming indoors will have heat and chlorine issues, no matter what the pool. So you have to make a choice, go inside and cheer for your team, and swim poorly. Or stay outside as much as possible and possible swim better. Also when you take your asthma medicines can make a difference. And pollen counts can make a huge difference. I am used to LA LA Land smog and pollen, if I go somewhere else they will have different trees and flowers and it may take an extra day to recover form the new pollen.

henry
September 1st, 2004, 05:30 PM
"I know that if you have an issue in regards to future meets the championship committee would like to have your information in regards to the good and bad on the hosted event.

Good luck at future meets and be prepared for all aspects of the sport.

Coach Steven"

Well said Coach!!!

This is exactly what we're trying to do here. We are trying to bring up the good and comment on the bad for future adjustments.
I swim indoors under a bubble half of the year and the air quality is not great sometimes, but definitely not as bad as it was in Savannah.
I will agree that we, as athletes, have to adjust to every circumstance. Plus where there is equality in competition, there is no advantage to anyone.
Still, the reality is that is had a negative effect on a bunch of people.

strong440
September 1st, 2004, 07:54 PM
It was probably mid morning on Saturday when one of the guys I was sitting with in the area between the two pools remarked on the quality of the air and pointed out that a door was open on the far end of the building. On further observation I saw that the doors in all four corners of the building were open, and forthwith headed for the "main office" to report that fact. The guy in controll of such things was pointed out to me and when I caught up with him through the crowd of swimmers on deck it was apparent that he was having a time going from one door to the others to close them. At stake, apparently, was not only the quality of the air, but also the fact that closed doors were part of the architectual necessity to keep the ceiling bubble from collapsing.

We should also keep in mind that Scott Rabalais and his gang spent a couple of nights moving the entire Atlantic coast of Georgia just far enough west to keep Hurricane Charley from messing up our meet!

Scott Rabalais
September 1st, 2004, 08:34 PM
Thanks to everyone for feedback on this issue.

In the two years of preparation for LC Nationals, we looked closely at every conceivable situation to determine how to best accommodate the athletes. We charted the pool climate, water temperatures and looked at restroom usage and seating, among many other facets.

There have been approximately 30 major swim meets in the Aquatic Center since it opened in 1998, some of which had similar numbers as our meet. I have been there for many of them and did not recall any significant air quality problems at those meets, nor hearing of any at meets I did not attend.

During our Nationals, the pools were monitored for pH and chlorine several times each day. The level on the competition pool stayed at 1.0 or just above during the meet, while the warm-up pool varied from 1.0 to 3.0, and more towards the lower end.

As we became aware of the air quality situation, we did make an effort to begin opening the emergency exit doors as often as possible to allow for greater air flow. However, this was limited by the fact that when only one door is left open for more than 10 minutes, the bubble and lighting begin to noticeably sway.

I do apologize for the unforeseen situation that occurred, and our county has been informed of the symptoms experienced by some of the athletes. The situation is being addressed by both the county and the company that manufactures the air systems.

Outside of this issue, it has been refreshing to hear of the many positive experiences that came out of the meet. The number of favorable comments has been simply astounding. Thanks for your contribution to a very enjoyable meet!

kerees
September 3rd, 2004, 08:37 PM
Being from California, I usually suffer a tiny bit at all indoor pools, I thought it was just me when I had a coughing spout in the warm down pool Saturday afternoon, but I couldn't stop so I just went and sat in the medical office (A/C'd room).

The following day I strolled in (already done just to hang out and watch) and I started hacking my lungs away again. Doahhh! But I heard from the locals that the tune-up meet in June was worse. So we got the better meet! Woo-hoo!

mattson
September 4th, 2004, 07:17 PM
Originally posted by kerees
The following day I strolled in (already done just to hang out and watch) and I started hacking my lungs away again. Doahhh!

I had assumed that it was from all the food you ate on the Riverboat cruise. (Hi Karla) ;)

For whatever reason, I got stuffed up (allergies?) in the hotel and on the plane ride, but it would clear up when I got to the pool. Same thing at Indy. Weird.

Debbie G.
September 9th, 2004, 08:46 PM
Like Kelly, I also came home from Savannah with ear infections. My doctor said it was swimmer's ear, which surprised me since I've never had that in all my years of swimming. It took a full 3 weeks to clear up.
Did anyone else have a similar problem - or are we northwesterners wimpy?

Debbie G.
September 9th, 2004, 08:52 PM
Like Kelly, I also came home from Savannah with ear infections. My doctor said it was swimmer's ear, which surprised me since I've never had that in all my years of swimming. It took a full 3 weeks to clear up.
Did anyone else have a similar problem - or are we northwesterners wimpy?

jean sterling
September 10th, 2004, 10:15 PM
I had an ear infection too - doctor gave me some drops that were anti-biotic anti-inflammatory, which worked very well. My ear (it was worse on one side) was quite painful,

deisner
September 13th, 2004, 04:20 PM
I have had asthma in the past and water quality was suspected as an etiologic agent. Since I switched pools, my job and moved I am off all asthma meds. I have a hand held peak flow meter and have documented a reduction in flows which seems to correlate with the smell of chlorine and the cloudyness of one of the pools I currently use.
I swam in one of the warm up meets at Savannah without problems. I did develope tracheal irritation by the second day of nationals. There are some studies showing evidence of exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB) following exposure to chlorine and tricholoramines.
Arthur J. Williams (Sport Institute of South Africa) presented a paper at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine which showed a decrease in the Forced Expiratory Volume (bronchospasm/asthma) in over 60% of swimmers when the chlorine level increased from 0.5ppm (<20%) to 1.0 ppm.
I. Doyle (Catholic University of Luovain) repoted in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2003; 60:385-394, an increase in serum proteins associated with lung epithelum and an increased incidence of EIB. These changes correlated with attendance at a pool. The adults on the deck also had similar changes. (air concentration of trichloramine 0.490mg/cubic meter) The concentration of trichloramines 1.5m above the water fluctuates with the pool occupancy (pool volume should also be important), ventiltion and bathers' hygiene (Ann Occup Hyg 1995; 39:437-9). I believe the cause of respiratory difficulties will prove to be more complex with with the method of chlorination, chlorine & choramines levels (air/water), pH, temperature, frequency of fresh water exchanges all playing a role.

Air/water quality will remain an issue for any meet the size of nationals. An attempt must be made to ensure fresh air flow, showering before entering the pool, & fresh water exchanges of low volume pools used for warm ups may be needed to prevent degradation of air quality. Rutgers had a temporary pool set up outside for warm ups. This may also help alleviate the problem in the future, weather permiting.

Rob Copeland
September 13th, 2004, 05:57 PM
So our readers don’t come away thinking that we swam nationals in some sort of chlorine/bacteria filled swamp.

Being a distance swimmer with a big kick, I often feel the effects of chlorine in workouts and at meets. I DID NOT have any problems at Savannah and had some of my best swims this century! I did shower before and after each swim (warm-up and race) to remove the chlorine. This may have helped. And I also tried to get out of the bubble as often as possible.

I have also found that it is important to keep my ears clean and dry to prevent infections. This seems to be especially important in bubble enclosures where the air pressure is slightly higher than normal. I usually squirt some rubbing alcohol into my ears after swimming to dry them out. This seems to have prevented the problems being reported by some participants.

As David stated “Air/water quality will remain an issue for any meet the size of nationals”. Just remember that there are preventative measures that us swimmers can take to reduce the potential adverse effects.