Swimming pool temperature stands out as one of the most important aspects of comfort in aquatic installations. Water that is too cold or too hot can quickly become an issue that causes user dissatisfaction. However, not all pools are made equal; depending on their intended use, swimming pool temperature requirements may vary considerably.
The right swimming pool temperature control system allows pool operators to guarantee a pleasant user experience, as well as adequate safety and hygiene. In competition pools, water temperature also plays an important role in supporting the athletes’ performance. Here, we present a complete digest of the different pool purposes, models and their optimal temperature conditions.
The right temperature values for Olympic pools
The first type of installation we’ll discuss is Olympic pools. Olympic pools are aquatic installations that fulfill the following four requirements, as prescribed by the official World Aquatics regulations (former FINA):
- The pool must be 50 metres long and 25 metres wide.
- It must be divided into eight lanes that measure 2.5 metres each.
- The pool must leave 2.5 metres of space on each side of the outer lanes.
- It must be 2 metres deep.
The International Swimming Federation has established that water temperature for standard competitions must be between 25ºC and 28ºC. For synchronized swimming competitions, 27ºC is considered an optimal water temperature. These temperature ranges are considered ideal for maintaining the athletes’ health and performance. Water that is warmer than 28ºC can help increase swimmers’ speed, but it also carries higher metabolic and cardiovascular loads and causes significant dehydration levels. On the other hand, cooler water may cause health and performance issues, including hypothermia.
Regarding these other atmospheric parameters, ambient air should be between 2ºC and 3ºC above the pool’s water temperature, 29ºC being the highest optimal temperature. The relative humidity should be between 55% and 70%.
Swimming pool temperature for semi-Olympic installations
Semi-Olympic pools, also known as short course, are half the size of standard Olympic installations: 25 metres long and 12.5 metres wide. More precisely, length in a swimming installation is defined as the minimum distance between interior faces of the pool’s front parameters. In this case, the length must be such that when electronic timing touch panels are used (on the walls’ exit ends or in turns) a distance of 25 metres is guaranteed between the two closest faces of the opposite panels.
Typically used for swimming training sessions and competitions, these pools present the minimum size required for Olympic competitions and other professional championships. Other specific requirements for semi-Olympic pools include:
- They must present a minimum depth of 1.35 metres, extending from 1,0 metre to at least 6,0 metres from the end wall in the case of pools with starting blocks.
- The distance from the limit of the wall must be between less than 6 metres.
- Each lane must be at least 2.5 metres wide.
- 25-metre semi-Olympic pools must have 8 or 10 lanes.
- The space between the wall and the floating line on the first and last lanes must be 0.20 metres, so that swell effects are minimized.
These requirements are established so that the ebb and flow of water complies with public health laws and the best practices for competitions, so water turbulence is minimized. Water temperature for semi-Olympic pools must be between 25ºC and 28ºC, while 27ºC is generally considered as the most adequate water temperature for these installations.
The right temperature values for Diving pools
A diving pool is a water installation designed for the practice and competition of jumping, trampoline and platform dives. According to international competition standards, these installations must be at least 25 metres long and 20 metres wide. A diving pool must have a minimum depth of 4.5 metres, although a depth of 5 metres is recommended for competitions.
Apart from these sizing requirements, diving pools must also meet the following requirements:
- The diving platform, together with the swimming pool, has to form a single enclosure that must be isolated, as they must be protected from the reach of prevailing winds that disturb the divers.
- The trampoline must present a minimum length of 4.8 metres and a width of half a meter. A non-slippery surface must be incorporated.
- When platforms are used, the minimum length for such structures is 6 metres and they must be half a metre wide. The front part of the platform, where the competitors stand before their jumps, must project at least 1.5 metres from the edge of the pool. It must also present a non-slippery surface.
According to the International Swimming Federation, water temperature values in diving pools should be the same as temperature in other standard competition pools: between 25ºC and 28ºC, 26ºC being considered the optimal temperature value.
These specific temperature conditions are based on these pools’ particular use: before a dive, athletes warm up their muscles to perform. However, as they fall, their bodies lose heat. Temperature changes as they collide with the water surface can be potentially damaging to their muscles. A temperature of 26ºC guarantees pool water remains safe and doesn’t cause an unmanageable impact on athletes’ bodies.
Water polo pool temperature
Water polo pools are designed for the practice of this particular sport activity, where swimmers mustn’t be in contact with the pool’s bottom and must stay afloat at all times. However, it’s common for water polo competitions to take place in Olympic pools which have been adapted using ropes to delimitate the standards of a water polo field and the required competition accessories.
Dimensions for a water polo pool vary whether the installation holds men’s or women’s competitions, as established by World Aquatics regulations. For men’s water polo, the length must be 33 metres, measuring from one goal line to another, and 20 metres in width. In the case of women’s water polo, pools must be 25 metres long and 17 metres wide. In both cases, the pool’s depth must be 1.8 metres, in order to guarantee players can’t touch the bottom.
Following World Aquatics requirements, water temperature in water polo pools must be 26ºC, although a variation of 1ºC up or down is allowed, both for competitions and training sessions. This temperature allows for an improvement in cardiopulmonary resilience, the stimulation of blood circulation, maintenance of a stable blood pressure and the decrease in blood pressure.
Lap pool temperature
Lap pools, training pools or sport pools are designed for the development of sport activities, including training, swimming lessons and physical activity. Some of the most common activities carried out in a lap pool are:
- Individual free swimming
- Collective swimming lessons
- Recovery or physical rehabilitation sessions
- Muscle toning training
Although each training pool may have its own characteristics and particularities, there are a few common features of lap pools:
- A rectangular shape is the most recommended when designing a lap pool, since it facilitates its use and optimizes available space.
- Although different sizes are available for lap pools, some common dimensions are 25 metres x 12.5 metres and 25 metres x 16.5 metres.
- Regarding depth, a lap pool for occasional or amateur swimmers should be around 1.4 metres deep, while 1.8 metres are recommended for professional users.
As recommended by World Aquatics, water temperature for a lap, warm-up or training pool should be between 25 and 28 ºC, the latter being the most adequate. This value helps swimmers perform their training and rehabilitation sessions, facilitating improved circulation and preventing heart disease.
The right temperature for leisure pools
Leisure pools are aquatic installations designed for recreation and intended for users to participate in leisure experiences with their family or friends. These pools are typically included in hospitality and real estate complexes such as hotels and resorts, public pools and aquatic centres, where aquatic facilities are oriented towards recreation and education.
Although they’re aren’t homogeneous requirements for leisure pools, they commonly share the following features:
- Their shape can be varied, as long as the pool has no bends, angles or obstacles that hinder water circulation.
- Water surface will not be less than 200 m2. This figure must be based, nonetheless, on the calculation of the needs of the area served by the pool.
- Independent swimming areas can be designed in the same vessel in order to facilitate different activities such as recreation or swimming practice. In these cases, changes of use and depth must be properly indicated for users.
- Common minimum depth values for this type of vessel is 1 metre, while the maximum depth is 1.4 metres in recreational areas for non-swimmers and 2.2 metres in swimming areas.
The NIDE swimming pool regulatory standards have established that water temperature of all covered recreational areas should be between 25ºC and 28ºC, 28ºC being the optimum. Leisure pools in hotels and resorts usually maintain temperatures between 28ºC to 30ºC. However, these temperatures may vary depending on the pool’s geographical location and weather conditions, as some users might prefer a lower temperature (between 27ºC and 28ºC) to avoid overheating. These values aim to provide users with a satisfying and enjoyable experience that boosts their physical and mental well-being.
Splash or paddling pool temperature
Splash or paddling pools are specially designed to be used for water games for children up to 5 years of age. These pools are usually part of wider aquatic centres and pool complexes that include other installations dedicated to recreation and physical education. Splash pools can be designed in various ways, as long as there are no bends, angles and obstacles that hinder water circulation.
Considering target users for this type of pools are children, maximum depth for this type of pool should be 0.4 metres and the surface slope of the bottom should be between 2% and 6% in any of the straight lines that can be supported by it. Water temperature for all covered splash pools should be 30ºC, as indicated by the NIDE swimming pool regulatory standard.
Children are not as capable as adults of regulating their body temperature: on the one hand, they can quickly lose heat if they are not properly covered (about four times faster than an adult) and are extremely sensitive to cold. On the other hand, it takes a lot more work to regenerate lost heat. As a result, a pool that may seem warm to adults may be cold to a child. Colder water could affect a child’s enjoyment in the pool, which might lead to other issues that could affect their ability to swim, including a fear of water.
Pool installations looking to guarantee a satisfactory user experience must make sure temperature in their aquatic installations remains stable and adequate for the pool’s intended use. Swimming pool temperature is a more delicate matter than many pool operators may realise, affecting the athletic performance or well-being of the user.
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Swimming pool temperature control thus becomes an essential issue to monitor as part of the rest of operational necessities, including chlorination and water disinfection. These values should be regularly monitored, ensuring that the pool is fit for its intended use.