Category Archives: Regulation

Chemical Treatment Options For Commercial Pools

All public swimming pools require sanitizing systems to eliminate microbes in the water to provide a healthy swimming environment.  There are many options available today and there are some common misconceptions regarding what systems are available and their relative merits.  The purpose of this overview is to provide some basic information about these systems and their effectiveness, safety, and practical application.

There are three basic categories of water treatment systems commonly used in swimming pools: Sanitizers, Supplemental Sanitizers, and pH Buffers.


All public swimming pools must have a chemical sanitizer, as mandated by the local public health code. The function of the sanitizer is to kill micro-organisms.  This is generally done by adding a chemical sanitizer to the water as it passes through the treatment system in the pool equipment room.  This effectively treats the water at the point of injection, but also leaves residual sanitizer in the pool water itself to handle contamination sources in the pool.  The following options are available:imagesCAH3FQ1H

  1. Sodium Hypochlorite
    1. 12% free available chlorine
    2. Liquid
    3. Dilutes over time
    4. Classified as an irritant
  2. Calcium Hypochlorite
    1. 65% free available chlorine
    2. Tablet
    3. Longer shelf life than sodium hypochlorite
    4. Classified as a Class 3 oxidizer and is corrosive
  3. Gas Chlorine
    1. 100% free available chlorine
    2. Gas
    3. Chlorine gas is extremely corrosive and has been known to corrode all metal within an equipment room.
    4. Not allowed by most health codes due to hazardous nature.
  4. Bromine
    1. Commonly used on smaller bodies of water (hot tubs) with low bather loads.
    2. Twice the bromine is required to reach the same oxidation potential of chlorine.
    3. Bromine is a much less aggressive oxidizer compared to chlorine.
    4. Bromine BCDMH is classified as a corrosive – either class one or class two oxidizer. It is not flammable in and of itself, but it may ignite combustible materials in which it comes into contact, and as such is identified as a hazard.
  5. Chlorine Generation (Salt System)
    1. Non-ionized, coarse, sun-dried or pelletized salt (normally in 40 lb. bags) is initially added to the pool water to develop a concentration of 0.5% (5,000 ppm).
    2. A small amount of electricity is used by the chlorine generator during the electrolytic process.
    3. Salt systems generate pure sodium hypochlorite at a near neutral pH and therefore have less effect on pH than most other pool chlorines.
    4. 4 ppm of free chlorine is reported to be ten times more corrosive than 4,000 ppm in salinity.


A common misconception is that salt systems provide a chlorine-free pool.  This is incorrect.  Chlorine serves as the primary chemical sanitizer in all of the above systems except Bromine.


In addition to the above chemical sanitizers, secondary water treatment systems are available to further improve the water quality.  It should be noted that none of these systems are permitted by health codes to serve as a primary source of water treatment.  They are only permitted as supplementary systems.  This is because they do not result in providing any residual chlorine in the pool itself, where contamination is most likely to occur.  Water is only treated in the equipment room.

However, the advantage of these supplemental systems is in their effectiveness at reducing Chloramines (combined chlorine).  Chloramines  are compounds formed when chlorine combines with other chemicals from human perspiration, body oils, and other byproducts.  These chloramines have been shown to affect the air quality in the natatorium, particularly just above the surface of the water.  It is the “chloramines’ in the air which produce the common “chlorine smell” often experienced at indoor aquatic facilities if not treated effectively.  They have been shown to cause health problems, particularly in people with respiratory problems such as asthma.  These supplemental sanitizers are also effective as sanitizers, even though not permitted as a primary means.  These systems include:

  1. Ultraviolet Light (UV)
    1. Reduces combined chlorine (chloramines). Indoor air quality will improve.
    2. The frequency of super-chlorination of the pool is reduced with UV installed.
    3. UV is highly effective against chlorine resistant pathogens like Cryptosporidium and Giardia; as well as the vast majority of bacteria, viruses, yeast, and mold.

i.      Chloramines reduction: < 0.2ppm

ii.      Disinfection: > 99.99% for Cryptosporidium and E. coli.

  1. Medium pressure.
  2. Need to budget $1,000 per year for bulb replacement.
  3. Ozone
    1. Reduces combined chlorine (chloramines). Indoor air quality will improve.
    2. The frequency of super-chlorination of the pool is reduced.
    3. Full DIN system treats 100% of flow – very expensive
    4. Sidestream Ozone system treats approximately 25% of flow – still very expensive.
    5. Ozone systems are very complicated to operate – need pool operator that has experience with Ozone.


The sanitizers discussed in this overview have a high pH and thus raise the pH of the pool water therefore it is necessary to add pH buffers to lower the pH levels of the pool.  The options available are:

  1. CO2
    1. CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is a pH balancing chemical that is effective with “soft” source water.
    2. Used when the total alkalinity is less than 70 ppm. CO2 raises the TA in the water.
    3. CO2 is injected into water to release oxygen and carbonic acid.
    4. No fire rating is required.
  2. Muriatic Acid
    1. 31.5% solution of hydrochloric acid.
    2. Muriatic acid reacts with the sanitizer, thus counteracting the pH, raising effects of the sanitizer. It has a pH of approximately 3. In the pool, it will lower the pH and total alkalinity. Typically delivered in 15-gallon carboys.
    3. Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) is classified as a corrosive and is highly reactive.
    4. Muriatic acid is used where the total alkalinity in the source water is above 70 ppm.
All Stories

Bather Loads

Understanding bather load requirements in a swimming pool environment is all too often overlooked when designing an aquatic facility.  While design considerations for an aquatic facility are commonly related to architectural and engineering aspects, allowable bather loads can also have long term impacts to your facility operations.

Bather load requirements generally vary amongst state swimming pool facility codes.  Traditional approaches have focused on the premise that 468-crowdedpoolmore swimmers will commonly be gathered within shallow water areas, as compared to deeper water areas.  As a result, these customary design requirements use water surface area as the primary factor when determining bather load.  Allowable load factors will vary based upon the water depths, with shallow water areas (less than 5’-0”) and deep water areas (greater than 5’-0”) separated into different categories.  Many standards use 15 square feet per bather for water areas less than 5’-0” and 25 square feet per bather for deep water areas.  Additional considerations are also given to the inclusion of water activities such as diving boards and water slides, where dedicated water area for each of these activities is subtracted from the overall water surface area.  For example, many codes require 300 square feet of water surface area for each diving board, which will be deducted from the overall deep water area when calculating bather loads.  In addition to the bather load allowances for shallow and deep water areas, some state swimming pool codes will include additional bathers in the facility based upon the amount of deck area that is provided.  The reasoning with this additional bather allowance is there will likely be people who spend a portion of their time not in the water.  An allowance for additional bathers as a result of pool deck might be 1 bather for every 50 square feet of excess pool deck.  Excess pool deck is typically defined as all deck areas that are beyond the minimum requirements, which is commonly established at 4’-0” to 5’-0” from the pool edge.  Additionally, the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) also stipulates that deck areas beyond twice the amount of water surface area is treated differently than deck equal to or less than the water surface area.

While the aforementioned approach has been widely accepted in the swimming pool industry for many decades, the MAHC has considered a more scientific methodology to bather load calculations.  The MAHC utilizes a Theoretical Peak Occupancy (TPO) as a means approach when assigning the maximum number of allowable occupants or users at an aquatic facility.  The significant difference in the MAHC approach is the TPO calculations are based around the type of water in lieu of the water depths.  The following water areas definitions can be found within the MAHC:

  • Flat Water means an aquatic venue in which the water line is static except for movement made by users usually as a horizontal use as in swimming. Diving spargers do not void the flat water definition.
  • Agitated Water means an aquatic venue with mechanical means (aquatic features) to discharge, spray, or move the water’s surface above and/or below the static water line of the aquatic venue so people are standing or playing vertically. Where there is no static water line, movement shall be considered above the deck plane.
  • Hot Water means an aquatic venue with a water temperature over 90oF (32oC).
  • Stadium Seating means an area of high-occupancy seating provided above the pool level for observation.
  • Specific Use Area mean water areas that are dedicated for a very specific use such as waterslide landing pool areas and interactive water play areas.

For each of the aforementioned areas the TPO is calculated by dividing the water surface area in square feet by the density factor (D).  Density factors for water areas range from 20 SF per bather for flat water, 15 SF for agitated water, 10 SF for hot water and interactive play areas.  For non-water related spaces density factors area considered such as 50 SF per bather for pool deck and 6.6 SF per bather for stadium seating.  The overall TPO is then determined by adding the calculations for each aquatic venue within the aquatic facility.  The scientific theory behind using the TPO approach is that the number of users should be based upon the impact from various water spaces and the anticipated users within these spaces.  In addition to bather load, design parameters such as natatorium air handling systems are impacted by the TPO.

Ultimately, the determination of bather loads or theoretical pool occupancy will impact not only how many patrons will be allowed to use an aquatic facility, but significant design considerations must be given to locker room and restroom hygiene fixtures.  Quantifying toilets, urinals and other hygiene fixtures, excluding showers, shall be based upon the greater of current applicable jurisdictional codes, or the MAHC calculated maximum theoretical peak occupancy. Lastly, consideration should always be given to what meets code requirements and what actually seems and feels reasonable.  Whether bather load determinations are based upon water areas as segregated by depth or type of water, one must consider the reality of the bather load numbers, and use practical and common sense when assigning final loads.  While exceeding code allotments may not be possible and certainly not recommended, a reduction in the allowable bather loads may be considered.  This reduction in allowable theoretical peak occupancy may provide not only a relief from excessive hygiene fixture requirements, but may result in a better user experience.

Accessibility/ADA Pool Requirements

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  The ADA requires that newly constructed and altered state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities are readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.  The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is the standard applied to buildings and facilities.  Recreational facilities, including swimming pools, wading pools, and spas, are among the facilities required to comply with the ADA.

The revision to the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 2010, published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010, and went into effect on March 15, 2011. All newly designed, constructed and altered recreation facilities covered by ADA are required to comply.  Full compliance with the regulations was originally slated for March 15, 2012.  In January, 2012, the Department of Justice released a Technical Assistance Bulletin in an attempt to clarify several areas of confusion regarding swimming pool accessibility, specifically, the use of swimming pool lifts.

The law regulates (1) accessibility routes, (2) types of facilities & required means of entry into the water, and (3) types of accessible means of entry into the water.  To help clarify each of three topics, let’s discus each in detail.


1.   Accessible Routes

Accessible routes are continuous, unobstructed paths connecting all accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility.  Accessible route requirements in ADAAG address width (minimum of 36 inches), passing space, head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless modified by specific provisions outlines in this guide.

 An accessible route is required to provide access to the swimming areas and all of the supporting amenities.  An accessible route is not required to serve raised diving boards, platforms, or waterslides.  But there must be an accessible route to the pool used with these features.

2.   Types of Facilities & Required Means of Entry into the Water

Swimming Pools

A swimming pool with over 300 linear feet of pool wall must have a minimum of two accessible means of entry.  Pool walls at diving areas and in areas where swimmers cannot enter because of landscaping or adjacent structures are still counted as part of the pool’s total linear feet.

The primary means of entry must be either a sloped entry into the water or a pool lift that is capable of being independently operated by a person with a disability.  The secondary means of entry could be a pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.  It is recommended that where two means of entry are provided, they be different types and be situated on different pool walls.

Pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall are only required to provide one accessible means of entry, which must be either a pool lift or sloped entry.

Aquatic Recreation Facilities 

Wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where access to the water is limited to one area and where everyone gets in and out of the same place, must provide at least one accessible means of entry, no matter how many linear feet of pool wall is provided.  The accessible means of entry can be either a pool lift, sloped entry, or transfer system.

Catch Pools

A catch pool is a body of water where waterslide flumes drop users into the water.  An accessible means of entry or exit is not required into the catch pool.  However, an accessible route must connect to the edge of the catch pool.

Wading Pools

A wading pool is a pool designed for shallow depth and is used for wading.  Each wading pool must provide at least one sloped entry into the deepest part.  Other forms of entry may be provided as long as a sloped entry is provided.  The sloped entries for wading pools are not required to have handrails.

Existing wading pools constructed prior to the enactment of the ADA law that do not already have a sloped entry do not have to provide access as if is often not “readily achievable” and cost prohibitive to most of these pools.


Spas must provide at least one accessible means of entry, which can be a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system.  If spas are provided in a cluster, 5% of the total – or at least one spa – must be accessible.  If there is more than one cluster, one spa, or 5% per cluster must be accessible.

Footrests are not required on pool lifts provided at spas.  However, footrests or retractable leg supports are encouraged, especially on lifts used in larger spas, where the water depth is 34 inches or more and there is sufficient space.

Water Play Components 

If water play components are provided, they must comply with the Access Board’s Play Area Guidelines and accessible route provisions.

If the surface of the accessible route, clear floor or ground spaces, and turning spaces that connect play components are submerged, the accessible route does not have to comply with the requirements for cross slope, running slope, and surface conditions.

Transfer systems may be used instead of ramps to connect elevated water play components.

Water slides are exempt from ADA requirements.

Other Accessible Elements 

If swimming pools are part of a multi-use facility, designers and operators must also comply with ADAAG and all applicable requirements for recreation facilities.  These include, but are not limited to: dressing, fitting, and locker rooms.

To assist with all these definitions, below is a chart to clarify.

Permitted Means of Pool Access

Pool Type

Sloped Entry


Transfer Walls

Transfer Systems


Swimming (Less than 300 linear feet of pool wall)



Swimming (300 or more linear feet of pool wall) – two means of entry required






Wave action, leisure river, and other pools where user entry is limited to one area




Wading Pools






* Primary means must be by sloped entry or lift, secondary means can be any of the permitted types.



3.   Types of Accessible Means of Entry into the Water

Pool Lifts 



Pool lifts must be located where the water level is not deeper than 48 inches.  This provides the opportunity for someone to provide assistance from a standing position in the water if desired.  If multiple pool lift locations are provided, only one must be where the water is less than 48 inches.  If the entire pool is deeper than 48 inches, an exception allows operators to use a pool lift in any location as an accessible means of entry.


There are a variety of seats available on pool lifts and these guidelines do not specify the type of material or the type of seat required.  However, lift seats must be a minimum of 16 inches wide.  In the raised (load) position, the centerline of the seat must be located over the deck, a minimum of 16 inches from the edge of the pool.  The deck surface between the centerline of the seat and the pool edge cannot have a slope greater than 1:48.

Although not required, seats with backs will enable a larger number of persons with disabilities to use the lift independently.  Pool lift seats made of materials that resist corrosion, that provide a firm base, and that are padded are more usable.  Headrests, seat belts, and additional leg support may also enhance accessibility and accommodate a wider variety of people with disabilities.

Clear Deck Space

Clear deck space must be provided to enable a person to get close enough to the pool lift seat to easily transfer from a wheelchair or mobility device.  This clear deck space will ensure an unobstructed area for transfers between a mobility device and the seat.  The clear deck space must be a minimum of 36 inches wide and extend forward a minimum of 48 inches from a line located 12 inches behind the rear edge of the seat.  This space must be located on the side of the seat opposite the water.  The slope of the clear deck space must not be greater than 1:48 (2%).  This virtually flat area will make the transfer area easier and safer, while still allowing water to drain away from the deck.

Seat Height

The lift must be designed so that the seat will make a stop between a minimum of 16 inches and maximum of 19 inches (measured from the deck to the top of the seat surface, when the seat is in the raised position).  Lifts can provide additional stops at various heights to accommodate users of all ages and abilities.

Footrests and Armrests

Footrests and armrests provide stability for the person using the lift.  Footrests must be provided on pool lifts, and must move together with the seat.  Padding on footrests – large enough to support the whole foot – reduces the chance of injury.

Armrests are not required, however if provided, the armrest opposite the water must be removable or be able to fold clear of the seat when the seat is in the raised (load) position.  This clearance is needed for people transferring between the lift and a mobility device.


Lifts must be designed and placed so that people can use them without assistance, although assistance can be provided if needed.  A person must be able to call the lift when it is in either the deck or water position.  It is especially important for someone who is swimming alone to be able to call the lift so he or she won’t be stranded in the water for an extended period of time.

The controls and operating mechanisms must be unobstructed when a lift is in use.  A person must be able to use the lift with one hand, and the operating controls must not require tight, grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.  Controls may not require more than five pounds of pressure to operate.

Submerged Depth

Lifts must be designed so that the seat will submerge to a minimum of 18 inches below the stationary water level.  This will ensure buoyancy for the person on the lift and make it easier to enter and exit.

Lifting Capacity

Lifts must have the capability of supporting a minimum weight of 300 pounds and be capable of sustaining a static load that is at least 1.5 times the rated load.  Where possible, lifts that can support a greater weight capacity are encouraged.

Sloped Entries Summit - Grand Prairie (18)

Sloped entries must comply with ADAAG accessible route provisions (36 inch minimum width, maximum 1:12 or 8.33% slope), except that the surface does not need to be slip resistant.  The slope may be designed as zero grade beach or ramp access.  With either design, the maximum slope permitted is 1:12.

In most cases, it is not appropriate to submerge personal wheelchairs and mobility devices in water.  Some have batteries, motors, and electrical systems that can be damaged or contaminate the pool.  Facilities that use sloped entries are encouraged to provide an aquatic wheelchair designed for access into the water.  Persons transfer to the aquatic wheelchair and access the water using it, leaving their personal mobility device on the deck.  Operators and facility managers may need to consider storage options for personal mobility devices if deck space is limited.

The coefficient of friction for slip-resistance on ramped surfaces should be 0.8.

C701 tile exceeds maximum slopes for ADA accessible ramps.  If a ramp is designed to be fully ADA compliant, it should not be installed or designed with C701 tile at the leading edge of the ramp.

Curved ramps are not compliant as primary means of ADA access, unless the inner radius is curvature is greater than 30 feet.

Submerged Depth

Sloped entries must extend to a depth between 24 inches minimum and 30 inches maximum below static water level.  This depth is necessary for individuals using the sloped entry to become buoyant.  Where the sloped entry has a running slope greater than 1:20 (5%), a landing at both the top and bottom of the ramp is required.  At least one landing must be located between 24 inches and 30 inches below the static water level.  Landings must be a minimum of 36 inches in width and 60 inches in length.  The sloped entry may be a maximum of 30 feet at 1:12 (8.33%) slope before an intermediate landing is required.  Adding a solid wall on the side closest to the water can enhance safety.


Sloped entries must have handrails on both sides regardless of the slope.  Handrail extensions are required at the top landing but not at the bottom.  The clear width between handrails must be between 33 and 38 inches.  The handrail height must be between 34 and 38 inches to the top of the gripping surface.  This provision does not require the handrails to be below the static water level, which could be considered an underwater obstruction.  No minimum width is required between handrails provided on sloped entries that serve wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where people can enter only in one place.  Handrails are required to comply with ADAAG provisions (diameter, non-rotating, and height).  For pools with a coping that protrudes beyond the face of the pool wall (bullnose, etc.), the dimension from the pool wall to the handrail must be adjusted to allow a minimum of 1.5 inches of clearance between the handrail and the coping at the point where the handrail slopes down across the pool coping.

Transfer Walls alabama-locker-room-waterfall-570x391-1

A transfer wall is a wall along an accessible route that allows a person to leave a mobility device and transfer onto the wall and then into a pool or spa.

Grab Bars

Transfer walls must have at least one grab bar.  Grab bars must be perpendicular to the pool wall and extend the full width of the wall so a person can use them for support into the water.  The top of the gripping surface must be 4 to 6 inches above the wall to provide leverage to the person using the bars.  If only one bar is provided, the clearance must be a minimum of 24 inches between the bars.  The diameter of the grab bars must comply with ADAAG (diameter between 1.25 and 1.9 inches, non abrasive, and non-rotating).

Clear Deck Space

Clear deck space of 60 by 60 inches minimum, with a slope of not more than 1:48, must be provided at the base of a transfer wall.  This will allow persons using a wheelchair to turnaround and access the wall, depending on the side they can best use to transfer.  If there is one grab bar on a transfer wall, the clear deck space must be centered on the one grab bar.  That allows enough space for a transfer on either side of the bar.  If two bras are provided, the clear deck space must be centered on the 24-inch clearance between the two bars.


The transfer wall height must be 16 inches minimum to 19 inches maximum, measured from the deck.

Width and Length

Transfer walls must be a minimum of 12 inches wide to a maximum of 16 inches wide.  This provides enough space for a person to sit comfortably on the surface of the wall and pivot to access the water.  The wall must be a minimum of 60 inches long and must be centered on the clear deck space.  Additional length will provide increased space and options for transferring.


Since people using transfer walls are in bathing suits, their skin may be in contact with the wall.  To prevent injuries, the wall surface must have rounded edges and not be sharp.

Transfer Systems 

A transfer system consists of a transfer platform and a series of transfer steps that descend into the water.  Users need to transfer from their wheelchair or mobility device to the transfer platform and continue transferring into the pool water, step by step, bumping their way in or out of the pool.

Transfer Platform

Each transfer system must have a platform on the deck surface so users can maneuver on and off the system from their mobility device or wheelchair.  Platforms must be a minimum of 19 inches deep by 24 inches wide.  That provides enough room for a person transferring to maintain balance and provides enough space to maneuver on top of it.

Platform Height

Transfer platforms must be between 16 and 19 inches high, measured from the deck.

Clear Deck Space

The base of the transfer platform must have a clear deck space adjacent to it that is 60 by 60 inches minimum with a slope no steeper than 1:48 so a person using a wheelchair can turn and maneuver into transfer position.  The space must be centered along the 24-inch minimum unobstructed side of the transfer platform.  A level, unobstructed space will help a person transferring from a mobility device.

Transfer Steps

The maximum height of transfer steps is 8 inches, although shorter heights are recommended.  Each transfer step must have a tread depth of 14 inches minimum to 17 inches maximum and a minimum tread width of 24 inches.  The steps must extend into the water a minimum of 18 inches below the static water level.


The surface of the transfer platform and steps must not be sharp and must have rounded edges to prevent injuries.

Grab Bars

A grab bar must be provided on at least one side of each step and on the transfer platform, or as a continuous grab bar serving each step and the platform.  The bar must not obstruct transfer onto the platform.  If a grab bar is provided on each step, the top of the gripping surface must be 4 inches minimum to 6 inches maximum above each step.  If a continuous bar is provided, the top of the gripping surface must be 4 inches minimum to 6 inches maximum above each step nosing.  Grab bars on transfer systems must comply with ADAAG (diameter between 1.25 and 1.9 inches, non abrasive, and non-rotating).

Accessible Pool Stairs Santa Clara Senior Center 030107 018

Accessible pool stairs are designed to provide assistance with balance and support from a standing position when moving from the pool deck into the water and out.  ADAAG provisions for stairs include the requirement that all steps have uniform riser heights and uniform tread widths of not less than 11 inches, measured from riser to riser.  Additionally, open risers are not permitted.  Other stairs or steps provided in the pool are not required to meet these guidelines.


Pool stairs must have handrails with a minimum width between the rails of 20 inches and a maximum of 24 inches.  The 20- to 24-inch width for the accessible pool stairs is intended to provide support for individuals with disabilities who are ambulatory.  Handrail extensions are required on the top landing of the stairs but are not required at the bottom landing.  Handrails on pool stairs must comply with ADAAG provisions.  The top of the handrail gripping surface must be a minimum of 34 inches and a maximum of 38 inches above the stair nosing.  If handrails are mounted on walls, the clear space between the handrail and wall must be 1.5 inches.  For pools with a coping that protrudes beyond the face of the pool wall (bullnose, etc.), the dimension from the pool wall to the handrail must be adjusted to allow a minimum of 1.5 inches of clearance between the handrail and the coping at the point where the handrail slopes down across the pool coping.

Weird Swimming Rules

Starting From the Water

The National Federation of State High School Association Rule Book states (Rule 2-7, Art. 2. Penalties: 3.) “When one or more starting platforms are not securely attached to the deck or end wall, all swimmers shall start in the water, or on the deck, provided the water depth rule is not violated.”

Competitors swim during the women's 200m freestyle heats at the London 2012 Olympic GamesIn today’s sporting world, we have seen coaches go to tremendous lengths to gain an edge in competition. Famously, University of Iowa Football coach Hayden Fry, had the University paint the visiting team’s locker room pink in order to gain a competitive advantage. In 2005, at great expense the University added pink urinals, showers, and lockers to the visiting team’s locker room.

We have all been to our fair share of meets where there is a loose block, but I have never witnessed a coach requesting that everyone start in the water for a fair swim meet. During my senior year of high school, I myself might have won another state championship if this had been the case. In hindsight, I should have gone and looked for a block that was loose.

Why is it that coaches don’t pull this rule out more? I think our sport has a high moral character that is deeply ingrained into our coaches and participants. Every swimmer in every race has a chance to win as they all have a chance to get a best time! A coach isn’t going to sacrifice a best time for a chance to win a race… Well maybe a better way of phrasing it is that a coach wants his athletes to win a race while going a best time!

No Guns at the Pool

News flash… “NCAA Swimming Officials get held up going through a metal detector at TSA in a local airport. They are forced to leave starting pistol at security.”

The NCAA Rule Book states (Rule 2, Section 1. The Official Start) “When the starter sees that the swimmers are stationary, the starter shall start the race with an electronic-sound device. The use of a pistol shot is not permitted.”

The NFSHSA Rule Book Stats (Rule 2-7, Art. 3) “The starting signal shall be loud enough to insure a fair start…. NOTE: A pistol capable of discharging live ammunition shall not be used for the starting signal.”

I am all for safety at a swim meet. No running on a pool deck. Making sure there is adequate water depth for diving. These are all great rules that help keep our sport safe. Some might think that the NCAA rule book takes it to the next level when it states “the use of a pistol shot is not permitted” as a starting device at a swim meet.

Call me a helpless romantic, but when the timing system starter went out at a swim meet and I saw the Meet Referee/Starter get the pistol out of that little black plastic case, part of me got excited. The pop of the gun is one of those timeless aspects of our sport (and track & field) that brings back some nostalgia.  It is like playing football on a Friday night under the lights, the “pistol shot” got your heart racing and which definitely made you swim a little faster.

You just can’t imagine Jesse Owens or Mark Spitz starting with the electronic sound of the horn. Actually, Mark Spitz started with an electronic-sound device. We have to take it back another generation to Johnny Weissmuller. You just can’t imagine Tarzan starting with a beep!

Pool Dye Test

When you jump in a pool you assume the water is clean, chemically treated, filters, and safe…everywhere.  I’m not just talking about the water near the inlets or around the main drains, I’m talking clean and safe water everywhere in the pool.  Have you every stopped to wonder if there’s a test to ensure adequate distribution of water circulation in the pool?  Well some jurisdictions require a visual test to prove each pool is without a “dead spot” of water, even the Model Aquatic Health Code references (section dye tests as a means to “…evaluate the mixing characteristics of the recirculation system.”  But what does this look like and how does it work?

After a pool is constructed, and prior to receiving operational permit, a non-permanent, non-staining colored dye is added to the pool’s surge tank or skimmer systems.  Almost immediately, dye will be seen returning through the pool’s inlets.  The pool will quickly turn a purple hue and you can easily see how all the water distributes within the pool.  After approximately ten (10) minutes, the entirety of the pool should be colored and the test is complete.  A short while thereafter, the dye will disappear when chlorine is added back into the pool.

For those who would like to test your own facility, this is an easy visual test to ensure you’re providing a safe and chemically treated aquatic experience for your patrons and staff.

Enjoy this time lapse video of a facility in Europe testing their facility.