Health Department

Healthy Swimming

Healthy Swimming
by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
June 4, 2013

With last week’s Memorial Day holiday marking the unofficial start of summer, there is no better time to discuss pool and water safety.

Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity needed for a healthy life, and most of us enjoy pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs each year. However, it is important to be aware of ways to prevent water-related illnesses, such as recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

Many of us have heard that chlorine kills germs instantly, however this is untrue. There are germs today that are very tolerant to chlorine and were not known to cause human disease until recently. Once these germs get in the pool, it can take anywhere from minutes to days for chlorine to kill them. Because of this, swallowing just a little water that contains these germs can make you very sick.

RWIs include a wide variety of infections, such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea. Diarrheal illnesses are caused by germs such as Crypto (Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, Norovirus and E. coli.

Since we know some germs are not killed by chlorine, what can we do to prevent the spread of RWIs? The most important and basic step is to keep germs out of pools; this will lessen the opportunity for (RWIs) to form.

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don't swallow the pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

By keeping our water clean, we can allow ourselves to take part in the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States! Swimming is a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity; just two and half hours a week can help prevent the onset of chronic disease and illness. Water-based exercise can also aid in both physical and mental health.

If you are looking for a place to get active in the water this summer, check out Adventure Oasis Water Park, 2100 S. Hub Dr. Adventure Oasis offers swimming programs, exercise classes and much more, all at a great price! For more information on classes, times and prices please visit