SUMMER TIP: Swim Smarter

As we make our way through another hot summer, it is almost inevitable that some time or another you’ll be fortunate enough to cool off in a refreshing pool.  Don’t worry,  I’m not going to ruin the swimming pool experience for you.  But, being someone who frequently swims laps, I began thinking more and more of the chemical-rich liquid I was submerging myself in. When I coupled that with the fact that during a workout, your pores expand, I realized I was opening the door wide to let all that pool water in my system.

Throughout the journey deeper and deeper into living a health conscious life, the subject of clean water no doubt deserves a position at the top of the list.  In a recent post we addressed the subject of safer drinking water ( and the same rules can be applied to the water we shower and bathe in.

All of the nastiness we mentioned in the previous post has a second portal of entry into our systems by way of absorption through the skin.  This post could easily now go the direction of the importance of filtering your home’s bathing water as well, but we’ll stick to the pool situation.

Fortunately, in a pool, most of the aforementioned nastiness that we see in regular tap water is destroyed by a chemical concoction.  Unfortunately, most of the nastiness in the pool is destroyed by a chemical concoction.  The leader of this chemical gang is the infamous chlorine which is added to pool water for the same reason it is added to our drinking water, as a disinfectant.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges chlorine as a pesticide whose purpose is to kill living organisms.  Exposure to chlorine does just this to our bodies, destroying cells and tissues.  Most of us recall how irritated our eyes would get when we would foolishly swim for hours with our eyes open.  That irritation is a blatant sign of damage being done.

In addition to being recognized as a carcinogen, increased exposure to chlorine has also been linked to respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as to the destruction of beneficial bacteria in our gut.  The bacterial homicide should come as no surprise as we just stated that chlorine indiscriminately kills living organisms, good and bad.  If you’ve read any previous posts you already know the importance of these bacteria (aka gut flora) to ensuring proper digestion and as the gateway and bulk of our immune systems.

(This is the bacteria that are supplied by taking the increasingly popular “probiotics.”)


Never swim in a pool again. PERIOD.

You still there?

Of course I am kidding.  As with everything in this world, we can take the information, formulate a healthy plan, and try to limit our exposure.  However, we also need to keep on living and if you’re like me, swimming in a pool is something that I will choose to continually partake in.

Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have access to afford a chlorine free pool, yet.  So when it’s time hop into that invitingly blue oasis, keep these thoughts in mind:


The logic behind this is to rinse off any sweat that has accumulated on your body.  One of the main components of our sweat is ammonia.  When this ammonia combines with the chlorine from the pool water, it forms a dangerous byproduct of chlorination called a chloramine. These carcinogenic byproducts can trigger the production of free radicals in our bodies, causing cell damage.


Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about here.  Just as with our sweat, our urine also contains a large amount of ammonia.  Politely relieving yourself in the community pool creates a concentrated cloud of the above mentioned chloramines for you and your neighbors.  How considerate.


A study conducted by the USDA’s Technology and Development Program concluded that vitamin C effectively neutralizes chlorine.  This technology is now being utilized in vitamin C filters to lessen the chlorine and chloramine levels in shower water.  For purposes of the pool, vitamin C can be purchased as a topical cream which can be applied pre and post swim in an attempt to lower the chlorine exposure.

It should be noted that the above suggestions will not eliminate exposure to chlorine and its by- products.  What we are trying to do here is provide suggestions that can lessen the exposure, allowing you to continually enjoy a summer tradition with a little peace of mind.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.


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