Best Pool Temperature for Swimming Laps

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What is the Ideal Pool Temperature for Competitive, Masters, and Fitness Lap Swimmers?

The best pool temperature for swimming laps is 78°F (25.5°C).

This temperature may feel chilly when you start, but you’ll warm up to it after a few laps. At 78°F, your pool is set for optimal athletic performance and comfort.

We have decided on this water temperature as swimmers with decades of experience, coaches who train swimmers at various levels, and aquatic professionals that listen to countless feedback from pool patrons.

Whether you’re a competitive swimmer training for a big meet or a fitness lap swimmer looking to stay in shape, it is important to keep your pool at this temperature to maximize your swim workout.

This post not only covers the best pool temperature for swimming laps, it also includes topics on:

More Pool Temperatures to Know

Every pool has different needs. There are lap pools, competition pools, rec pools, teaching pools, and more. On top of that they may be indoor or outdoor.

Too cold and it is uncomfortable, too warm and it can be a safety issue. But what’s the ideal temperature for all activities? Unfortunately, there is not one catch-all answer.

Here are some facts and our Athlete Approved opinions on the matter:

Here are the facts on pool temperature:

  • FINA has a strict regulation that pool temperatures during Olympic competitions must be 79°F, plus or minus one degree
  • USA Swimming requires pool temperatures to be 77°F – 82.4°F
  • USMS (United States Masters Swimming) requires pool temperatures to be 77°F – 82°F

Here are our Athlete Approved opinions for best pool temperatures (listed cold-to-warm):

  • Lap swimming in with a hot climate: 77°F
  • Lap swimming indoor or outdoor in a comfortable climate: 78°F
  • Lap swimming in a cold climate: 80°F
  • Adult swim lessons: 83°F
  • Rec swimming: 86°F
  • Kids swimming lessons: 86°F
  • Aqua therapy or aqua fitness class: 88°F
  • Hot Tub: 102°F

It is normal for pool temperatures to fluctuate 1-2 degrees, even in the most state of the art pools.

Why Is Pool Temperature Such a Hot Topic?

The perfect pool temperature question is constantly debated by swimmers. Some prefer a cold pool, while others like it a bit warmer.

If you ask ten swimmers: What is the perfect pool temp? You may get ten different answers. And many swimmers get real hot on this topic (pun intended).

Why do people have such different opinions on this topic?

The reason for that is because swimmers are more sensitive to changes in pool temperature, compared to air temperature.

When you enter a room that is a few degrees chilly, you will not be bothered by the few degrees in air temperature as compared to water.

Additionally, there is a shock to a swimmer’s system when they jump in the water. Few swimmers love the shock, while most dread it.

Let’s dive further into this topic from a scientific standpoint…

Why Does Cold Water Feel Worse Than Cold Air?

Most people would agree that 75°F is a comfortable air temperature, but uncomfortably cold water temperature.

One simple explanation could be that you are not wearing layers of clothing in the pool.

The scientific explanation is that water has a very high volumetric heat capacity. Raising the temperature of a cubic centimeter of water takes more than 5000 times more energy than it would to heat the same volume of air.

Air is easier to trap inside a layer and warm up. Water is denser and more fluid, making it harder to warm up.

In simpler terms, the rate of heat lost is higher in water.

Things You Can Do To Get Comfortable In Cold Water

Swimming in cold water can be a shock to your system, but there are a few things you can do to stay comfortable.

Sure you can ease yourself in slowly. However, we recommend just going for it. Jump right in and start swimming.

You will experience an initial shock, but will get over it quickly as your body warms up and acclimates to the cold water.

When you’re in cold water, remember to fully exhale. Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose (opposite of running).

If you tense up and start hyperventilating, it’s because this is a natural reaction that happens when someone becomes panic-stricken or afraid.

To combat this reaction take control of your breath and make sure you are exhaling fully.

Another popular technique is wearing two swim caps or a thermal cap. A lot of heat escapes through your head, so swimmers can retain that heat through wearing a cap.

The Best Caps for Swimming

How to Measure Pool Temperature

Measure the temperature of your pool to make sure it is on point.

If the water is too cold, it can be uncomfortable. If the water is too hot, it can make the pool less energy efficient and may even pose a health risk.

There are a few different ways to measure pool temperatures.

If you are fortunate to have one, pool heaters will have a display with the set point and current temperature. You can easily read the temperature directly from there.

If you do not have a pool heater or want to double check, use a pool thermometer.

Simply place the thermometer in the water and wait to get an accurate reading. We recommend using either an analog or digital thermometer.

Whatever method you choose, remember to check the temperature regularly to ensure that your pool is safe and comfortable for all swimmers.

Conclusion on the Best Pool Temperature for Swimming Laps

We hope that this article has been helpful in informing you that 78°F is the best pool temperature for lap swimming.

Pool temperature can be a hot topic for cold swimmer bodies, so use this guide to have the best overall experience.

Let us know your favorite pool temperature to swim laps or other pool activities in the comments section.

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