How cold is too cold for a pool swim?

How cold is too cold for a pool swim?

Swimming in cold water is a refreshing experience during summers, but the tables quickly turn around in the winter. 

The perfect water temperature for a swimming pool has been standardized many times over, but the question remains intact. What pool temperature is too cold, and how should you decide?

What water temperature is too cold for swimming? 

According to the consensus among experts, water temperatures between 72°F and 86°F (22°C to 30°C) are ideal for a swimming pool. 

However, it also depends upon other factors, such as the physical endurance levels of an individual and the duration of exposure to cold water. 

Cold water pulls out the heat from your body 32 times faster when compared to cold air. Exposure to chilly water under 50°F for more than an hour can result in severe hypothermia or even death. 

To give you an idea, a person swimming in water at 40°F will not survive for more than twenty minutes. 

Jumping into freezing water can cause your body to go into a state of shock resulting in problems like hyperventilation, hypothermia, and instant fatigue. 

Excessively cold water (below 40°F) can lead to a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure, thus causing fatal issues like cardiac arrest.  

What pool temperature is too cold for a baby?

Babies need special care when taken into a pool because of their sensitive physique. Most physicians wouldn’t recommend taking a baby to a pool unless they are at least six months old. 

Temperatures lower than 85°F are considered too cold for a baby, and just like adults, different toddlers will have their endurance levels. Some may enjoy a minimum temperature of 80°F, whereas others may shiver even at 85 °F

Additionally, the ideal water temperature for a toddler should be equal to their body temperature which is about 95 degrees Fahrenheit on average. 

Can a pool be too cold for a healthy person? 

The simple answer to this question is - it depends! There’s this famous Dutch athlete and speaker Wim Hof who is famous for enduring extremely cold temperatures. He set the record for staying in ice water for 1 hour and 44 minutes in January, 2010. His record was later broken by Valerjan Romanovski who spent a staggering 3 hours and 28 seconds in full-body contact with ice in October, 2021. 

The Marines and Navy SEALS undergo cold-water immersion training and swim in icy water to improve their physical endurance. Similarly, in many Nordic and Eastern European countries, winter swimming is a traditional cultural element. 

Athletes and soldiers are among the physically fittest on this planet. If these guys wanted to come to your freezing pool water and take a swim, there’s no pool too cold for a healthy person by their definition. 

However, as far as average Joe and Jane are concerned, a pool with a water temperature of fewer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be considered too cold to swim. 

What are the benefits of having a cold pool? 

While icy water can pose serious health risks, swimming in the cold of appropriate temperatures can have some incredible health benefits. Here’s what to expect when you dip into a cold pool:

  1. Swimming in cold water boosts your immune system and physical endurance. The body's reaction to quickly changing temperatures induces the release of white blood cells. It keeps your body at peak performance as shocking the system increases metabolism.

  2. It improves blood circulation through vasoconstriction and relieves soreness in the muscles.

  3. Cold water burns more calories in comparison to regular temperature water because the body has to put in extra effort to keep itself warm.

  4. Swimming is also a great exercise which releases endorphins, reducing stress and improving your mood. 

So, what's the optimal water temp?

Temperatures between 72 to 86 °F are considered optimal for swimming pool water when used by adults. Toddlers need higher temperatures, and values less than 85°F are deemed too cold.


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