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Swimming Pool Temperatures

Posted 3/12/2012   Updated 3/12/2012 Email story   Print story


3/12/2012 - Ellsworth AFB, S.D. -- The Commander's Action Line is a forum for the Ellsworth community to make suggestions or voice concerns about Ellsworth directly to Col. Mark Weatherington, 28th Bomb Wing commander. 


Dear Commander:
As the wife of a retired military person, I am a frequent user of the Bellamy Fitness Center and the indoor swimming pool. It is a fantastic facility and I love being able to use it. It has just come to my attention, however, that the temperature of the pool is going to be set at 80 degrees for the comfort of the lap swimmers. This will make the pool unusable for a lot of older people, especially those with knee replacements or other metal parts in ankles, etc. I also believe that temperature is too cold for young children who would be taking swimming lessons. Would you consider a compromise at maybe 83 - 84 degrees? I don't think this is too warm for lap swimming.
My friends and I would really love to continue using the pool. One of these friends has had a medical issue and uses a cane. Another has had ankle surgery and the cold water is intolerable to her. Being able to use the pool at EAFB has really helped their recovery. I enjoy the pool for part of my workout. I believe that they, as well as I, would really miss the therapy gained by exercising in the pool. Some of us are not so young anymore and can get a much better workout in the pool than we can on a hard surface. I hope you will reconsider this decision.
Thank you.

Col. Mark Weatherington
Col. Mark

Thanks for your question--and I am glad you enjoy the pool, so do I. Please understand that I asked to lower the pool temperature after experiencing a week of 88-90 degree water. Not only is this too hot to swim in, it exceeds the recommended range for most common pool uses and it is an enormous waste of energy.
A one degree difference in water temperature for swimming is equivalent to a four degree difference in air temperature in terms of your body's reaction. For example, swimming at 88 degrees as opposed to 82 degrees provides the same physiological difference as running at 106 degrees outside air temperature rather than 82 degrees.
I offer the following generally accepted guidelines for pool temperatures:
- Fitness swimmers can dehydrate quickly with excessive temperatures--76 to 80 degrees is a good temp range for lap swimming activities
- FINA competition rules require a temperature between 77 and 82 degrees
- 82 degrees is considered the standard for recreational swimming, to include children's swimming lessons
- 83-86 degrees is a good target for water aerobics and most therapeutic activities
I will ask the pool staff and my crack CE team to set the temp at 82 degrees, a good compromise and the generally accepted standard for recreational swimming. I'll also ask them to think about "timing" the heating cycles of the pool--perhaps we can have a pool that's 80 - 82 degrees at 0600 and warms to 84 - 86 degrees by afternoon, then cools down again overnight when the facility is closed. I believe this is a good compromise and will allow most patrons the enjoy a variety of water fitness activities. I look forward to seeing you at the pool.

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