Is your pool too cold, or too warm?
Let’s face it, whatever temperature your pool is, there’s always someone who will complain about the water.
You know what they say, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please most of the people most of the time. Wait… that doesn’t sound right.
Anyway, in this article, I’ll give you the lowdown on the “perfect” pool temperature.
Spoiler: There’s No Perfect Pool Water Temperature
I wish I could just give you a number, close my laptop and head to the beach for the day. If only it were that easy.
The truth is, while everyone and their Grandma seems to have an opinion about this topic, there’s no universally accepted temperature among experts.
When you think about it, there are just too many variables for a single temperature to make sense, including:
- Pool Size: Are we talking about an iddy-biddy paddling pool, or an olympic-sized swimming pool?
- Pool Type: Is it an inground or above-ground pool?
- Pool Location: Is the pool located indoors or outdoors?
- People: Who’s most likely to use the pool? You have to consider adults, the elderly, children, and perhaps even pregnant women.
- Occupancy: How many people will be using the pool at once? Body heat alone can raise the temperature.
- Activity: What is the pool being used for? This could be anything from a leisurely swim, improving fitness or even a swimming competition.
You see my point. There’s no answer that can accurately account for all of these variables, especially when some of them can change from one hour to the next.
So where does that leave us?
Let’s Talk About “Ideal” Pool Water Temperature
What I can do, however, is give you a general recommendation based on the most widely accepted temperatures, based on activity alone.
Let’s jump in! (Pun totally intended.)
The Ideal Water Temperature for Recreational Swimming Is Around 83°F
If you’re anything like me, the toe test is always required before jumping into any pool, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, for leisure or fitness.
Most people would agree that a warmer pool is preferred for recreational swimming, but I speak from experience when I say there is a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Pool water that creeps up too high in the temps can be cause dehydration, muscle cramps and overheating of the body — as well as just becoming very uncomfortable, very quickly.
If that wasn’t bad enough, you also need to consider that pool chemicals struggle to remain effective because bacteria, algae and other organisms thrive in those warmer conditions.
But what’s to be said about your pool water being too cold?
Some (crazy) people love cold pools as much as they love a cold shower in the morning, and that’s fine. As with anything, however, there is a point where temps can fall too low, leading to potential health risks.
(Plenty of people have been known to go into cardiac arrest as a result of colder pool water temperatures. Just something to keep in mind.)
I should also mention that, as is the case with warm water, the chemicals in your pool will struggle to do their job when the temperatures are too low, which can lead to over chlorination.
The Ideal Water Temperature for Fitness and Competitive Swimming Is Around 80°F
Fitness and competitive swimmers have a completely different set of requirements to recreational swimmers when it comes to pool water temps.
Well, the first is that they will generate more body heat from being constantly in motion, which means the water temperature should be lower to balance that.
At the same time, they need to move through the water with the least amount of friction possible — and water temperature absolutely plays a role in reducing friction.
Without getting all sciency on you, warmer water is lighter (or less dense) than colder water, so it’s beneficial to refrain from lowering it too much in a competitive setting.
Essentially, the pool water needs to be cooler enough to maintain a healthy body temperature, but not so much that the added friction slows you down.
While things like chemical inefficiencies and health risks are still a factor, in reality, the difference can be as little as 1 degree celsius in some cases.
The Ideal Water Temperature for Children and Babies Is Around 85°F
Kids pools are always warmer than their adult counterparts because children retain less body heat due to their size.
In fact, even if the water temperature seems perfectly fine to you, it could be felt and experienced very differently for children. Especially young children.
You’ll know if the pool is too cold if it causes a child’s lips to turn blue, as well as causing them to shiver while still in the water. (Pretty obvious stuff, really.)
Of course, trying to do any real swimming or fitness training in a children’s pool isn’t wise regardless of your age, for all the same reasons mentioned above.
85 degrees farenheit, and maybe even a notch above, would also be ideal for babies as well as pregnant women.
The Ideal Water Temperature for Hydrotherapy Pools Is Around 95°F
If we’re talking about a hydrotherapy pool, in that it’s primary use is to facilitate treatment through movement and exercise… well, that changes things.
Unlike a conventional pool, which typically sits at around 80 degrees fahrenheit, hydrotherapies pools operate at a much higher temperature, in the region of around 95 degrees fahrenheit.
This increase is necessary because the water is tasked with relieving soreness in muscle tissues in your body, as well as alleviating pain. (No, it soothe a broken heart. I’ve tried :(.
At the same time, it’s still plagued by the same issues mentioned above, with algae and other micro-organisms being particularly high-risk in hydrotherapy pools.
A Temperature Cheat Sheet
Like I said at the start, there really is no universally accepted temperature — only recommendations (or guidelines) from various sources.
If you just want a quick cheat sheet to reference for all the different pool types and scenarios I’ve covered, check this bad boy out:
Recreational, leisure, adult teaching, conventional main pools
Competitive swimming and diving, fitness swimming and training
Babies, young children, children’s swimming lessons
Babies, young children, children’s swimming lessons
That bit at the end
Getting your pool water into that “sweet spot” zone can take a bit of figuring out and experimentation, but it’s absolutely worth the trouble to get the most of your pool.
Good luck and happy swimming!