While we at College Magazine set out in hopes of presenting a shocking exposé about public pools, (fortunately for you) we’ve found the dangers are nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, urine aside, the grossest thing you might find hanging out in the pool is a ball of hair or an orphaned Band-Aid (should we mention the “floating baby poop” cited by one pool-goer? …yeah, so maybe that isn’t exactly in the everyday hair ball/Band-Aid category). But the point is, don’t stress too much about the cleanliness of a pool. If nothing appears to be visibly amiss, chances are you’ll make it out alive and well.
With temperatures rising above 100 degrees in much of the United States this summer, it’s not hard to imagine that pools are more packed than ever. In this day and age, pools seem to have become more of an excuse for socializing than for cooling off. And while many will spend a good deal of time submerged, still many others choose to sweat their scantily clad bums off mere inches from relief, occasionally only dipping a toe in (as if that’s going to do anything!).
Here’s the ugly truth, though: the toe-dippers are probably the smart ones. What’s so smart about dying of a heat stroke when you could simply dive in, you ask? For starters, think about pools more in the realm of a giant, communal bathtub as opposed to an outlet for fun summer shenanigans. Okay, erring on the side of gross; but now imagine a majority of those in the bath tub have no problem using their own pee as soap.
First, let’s tackle the public bathtub blunder. In order for a pool to be less like a “I-haven’t-showered-and-would-love-to-get-rid-of-this-B.O. experience” and more like an “it’s-100-degrees-and-I-want-to-cool-off experience,” all participants would have to be clean prior to making a splash. According to a study done by The Water Quality and Health Council, 93% of adults in America say they would never reuse someone else’s bath water, yet more than 40 percent skip the shower before entering the swimming pool; and did you know the strong smell of chlorine actually has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a pool? Contrary to popular belief, that characteristic “pool smell” is not produced by chlorine, but rather the reaction between impurities in the water and chlorine. So the next time you fill your nostrils with the nostalgic scent of a glistening blue pool, remember that a well-maintained one actually smells like… well, nothing.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. If everyone just showered before taking the plunge, we could block that whole savage watering hole image out of our minds. According to Zach Sallade, lifeguard and student at Marshall University, showering before the pool plays a huge part in keeping it clean. “The dirt, deodorant and sweat that the day has piled up comes off and ends up on the side of the pool,” he says. “It really does make a huge difference.”
Secondly, do people really pee in the pool? They absolutely do. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you; what you may be surprised to find out is that 1 in 5 adults admitted to peeing in the pool (in a survey also done by The Water Quality and Health Council). It’s questionable how many additional adults refused to admit it in a national survey. But if 1/5th of adults guiltlessly admit releasing the golden shower, how many kids are also unleashing the beast? The odds don’t look too promising. Also, aside from urine just being gross, it depletes the effectiveness of chlorine’s ability to destroy waterborne germs.