It’s summer, and that means swimming, right? Perhaps, but the chemicals used in pools can leave some people feeling itchy and out of breath. After all, chlorine’s claim to fame is its use as a gas in World War One. Chlorine and other chemical byproducts in pools have been linked to airway disorders and allergic skin reactions. How can you enjoy a swim this summer without suffering from the aftereffects of pool chemicals?
Natural swimming pools are amazing, but if you don’t have one of those, then see if your local lake, river, or beach is safe and open for swimming. I love swimming in our clear, local river and I have a secret spot where I can bask in nearly perfect quiet, since the crowds are usually elsewhere. The water’s turquoise and the air is clean, and no, I’m not going to tell you where it is.
If you’re not an experienced river or lake swimmer, you may be worried about swimming in the wild. Check the water conditions before you dive in. Currents can be deadly, so check with the locals to see where and when they swim. Wade into the water yourself before letting the children swim, since often currents are nearly invisible. Bring flotation devices for children if they’re in deeper water or if they’re not strong swimmers. In lakes, look for drop offs and chilly parts that might give swimmers a surprise. Are there leeches in your lake? Lots of birds making the water mucky? Check with the local health department before setting out for a lake or a beach.
In spite of the questions above, wild swimming can be amazing. If you’re nervous, take it slowly and carefully, and you’ll soon get to know your local swimming holes.
Head for the Wading Pool
If you’re in a climate where you have the water to spare, fill up a wading pool or create a slip and slide using a sturdy tarp. It’s as good as going to the pool, without all of the extra chlorine. Try adding an extra rain barrel so you can be water-conscious.
Choose Your Pool Wisely
If you live somewhere with more than one pool, choose your pool wisely. If you have the option to go to a pool that uses ozone or other chlorine alternatives. Breathing in chlorine is no fun, and it can even lead to swimmer’s cough. Pools with higher sides and less air circulation can have a higher concentration of chlorine in the air immediately around your head, since there are fewer opportunities for the air to circulate. Choose pools with lower sides and good air flow through the building. Of course, you can also choose an outside pool, which usually has naturally good air flow. Be aware that on still, damp days, the chlorine can stay near an outdoor pool’s surface as well.
Want to make your swim time more productive? Do some workouts while swimming! The Fit Swimmer: 120 Workouts & Training Tips
You may not look dirty, but when you head to the pool, you’re likely not entirely clean. By showering before you swim, you remove a lot of the dirt and sweat that reacts with chlorine and causes chemical byproducts in the pool. Yes, it’s more than polite, it’s actually improving your health and the health of other swimmers.
After swimming, take a shower to rinse the chlorine off your body. If you swim a lot and have light-colored hair, you may be graced with green swimmers’ hair. If you don’t like this elven look, make sure you get your hair wet before swimming. This makes it harder for the chlorine-saturated water to soak into your hair. Wear a swim cap if you’re able to, and wash your hair thoroughly later with a good-quality swim shampoo or a natural shampoo and conditioner like baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
How do you beat the summer’s heat and keep the chemicals off your body?