I’ve always enjoyed watching aquatic athletes do their thing. Whether they are competitive swimmers, water polo players, divers, or synchronized swimmers, it’s amazing what these talented young people can achieve in the water. I also deeply admire the culture that surrounds aquatic sports and how these programs vest participants with tremendous physical fitness, discipline, and the confidence that comes with doing something most other people cannot.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch my own kids and other family members’ and friends’ kids take part in these programs, which, here in the Northeast, mostly take place in indoor pools. The only downside is that in almost all cases, the water and air quality in these facilities range from substandard to positively toxic.
As a water-quality professional and a concerned parent, it seems to me that nowhere in the world of aquatic recreation is water and air quality more crucial than when it comes to the well-being of these athletes. I personally and professionally believe that those who run these programs and their facilities have an obligation to do everything they can to ensure the health of their swimmers. And, it is, I believe, self-evident that water quality is a key ingredient in the success of any competitive swimming program, be it at a prep-school, university, or the local YMCA.
Let’s break it down:
You cannot overstate the importance of swimmer health in these programs. Aquatic athletes spend long hours in the water undergoing massively exerting workouts. They constantly inhale water vapor and inevitably swallow water. Their skin, eyes, and respiratory systems are intimately dependent upon water that is free of pathogens and disinfection by–products.
It’s both sad and ironic that the very substance that defines aquatic sports, the water itself, can become a source of illness and discomfort. Quality water reduces absenteeism due to illness and removes the most troubling obstacles to successful training. No one involved in these activities, nor their parents, should ever have to worry about waterborne ailments. Unfortunately, I fear that far too many do.
It’s also true that coaches, facility staff, and spectators can be negatively impacted by airborne contaminants. Bad air commonly found in high-use natatoriums is both potentially extremely unhealthy and it can make the whole experience of simply being there absolutely miserable.
As is true of all aspects of the aquatic lifestyle and swimming pool ownership, it’s ultimately all about the experience. And nothing compromises that experience more than icky water.
I’m proud of the fact that facilities that use our SRK HydroZone 3® approach to water quality management enjoy water that not only avoids problems but also becomes an inviting feature that transforms the athletic experience. Those who make the investment in quality water become proud of their environments, they avoid the cost of downtime, and they never have to explain why their program participants are experiencing water-related health issues.
This is why I believe athletes of all ages and levels of competition, their parents, coaches, and supporters should expect and demand water quality that is not only safe and reliable but also enhances the overall athletic experience.