However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) together with the Water Quality and Health Council and the National Swimming Pool Foundation are warning the public about health risks associated with bodily fluids in pools. Those pools characterized by the heavy smell of chlorine that can be irritating to swimmers are not necessarily extra-clean.
In fact, the coalition’s fact sheet says: “It’s not what you think. What you smell are actually chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with pee, poop, sweat, and dirt from swimmers’ bodies.… Let the chemicals use their power on germs—not on your pee, poop, sweat, and dirt. The job of pool chemicals is to kill germs. But when pee, poop, sweat, and dirt rinse off our bodies and into the pool water, the chemicals break down these other things instead of killing germs. This uses up the chemicals’ power, which means there’s less to kill germs.”
Although most triathletes wear well-fitting goggles, taking them on and off between sets can lead to irritation and red eyes if there’s a lot of urine in the pool. It is the reaction between the chlorine and urine which causes red eyes, the CDC says.
Indoor pools (which is what most Canadians will swim in year-round) are even more of a risk because the irritants can get into the air around the pool.
The fact sheet includes four essential steps to avoid illness:
1. Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
2. Shower before you get in the water.
3. Don’t pee or poop in the water.
4. Don’t swallow the water