People swim for beneficial aerobic exercise and recreation as well as for competitive sports, such as an Olympic event. Just as with other aerobic exercises, such as running, your hydration levels, body temperature, and sweat rate are modified by the air temperature and your exercise intensity. However, your swimming duration and performance can be affected by the water temperature you swim in, especially if it is not an average pool temperature. Continue reading to learn more about the effect of water temperature on swimmers.

The Effect of Water Temperature On Swimmers
The Effect of Water Temperature On Swimmers

Getting into Cold Water

Is swimming in cold water dangerous? A group of factors could make it very risky for your health. Your blood vessels widen to let warm blood increase your body’s temperature when you take a dip in a cold pool. Eventually, your body will start contracting your blood vessels to preserve your inner body temperature and prevent organ failure. As the human body cannot restrict blood flow for too long, your blood vessels will reopen. This will increase the risk of cold blood flowing to your organs and leading to hypothermia. Any temperature below 60°F without a wetsuit could lead to shivering or cold shock. According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety, the severity of symptoms depends on your own tolerance to cold water temperature. However, it is easy to realize that swimming in cold water side effects are quite dangerous.

Warm Water Effect

Despite cold water side effects are risky, that does not mean warm water will not cause dangerous side effects as well. Swimming in water with a temperature over 90°F, could lead to overheating and exhaustion, especially when you have been swimming for a long time or you are pushing yourself during a marathon. Your body temperature is increased by warm water, also increasing your sweat rate and leading to dehydration. To regulate your body temperature, your body tries to cool itself through profuse sweating, which can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes and eventually muscle mobility limitation. Muscle spasms and severe fatigue while swimming can be caused by too warm water temperatures, like while swimming in open waters, for instance. According to USA Swimming, warm water could be appropriate as Aquatic Therapy; however, these activities are neither practiced for too long nor unsupervised. Having the water too warm could not only cause issues for your body but can cause problems for your pool too.

Swimming in Cold Water Side Effects
Swimming in Cold Water Side Effects

Cold Water vs Warm Water

After talking about the effect of water temperature on swimmers when they get into cold or warm water, a comparison would be useful for a better understanding of said effects. Warm water at about 90°F can increase your metabolism and speed when swimming; however, a cooler temperature of 70°F would be safer. According to a study published in “The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” in 1993, the human body can adapt better to cold water than to warm water, which explains why a cold pool would be safer. Besides, cool water helps you swim longer without the risk of heat-related exhaustion. Nevertheless, the cold water temperature that can make you shiver would eventually cause hypothermia. To prevent heat exhaustion, keep your exertion level low when you swim in warm temperatures such as in open waters.

The Ideal Temperature

Depending on your activity, the ideal water temperature will differ. In general, the more intense your aerobic activity is, the lower the air temperature must be. According to USA Swimming, a water temperature of 82°F and cooler is excellent for competitive swimming and high-intensity swimming, with an air temperature between 78 and 80°F. For moderate workout and recreational swimming, 86 to 88°F is adequate, while air temperature should be between 82 and 84°F. To avoid the effect of water temperature on swimmers that could put their health at risk, it is recommended to swim when the pool is supervised by an aquatic fitness professional, and always make sure to know if the pool’s temperature will be adequate for your activity. If you are needing help with assessing any parts of your pool including how to fix your pool temperature, reach out to your local specialist for help. You could get someone to check your pool for free!

Is Swimming in Cold Water Dangerous