Pool Temperature - Health Question

ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
edited May 14 in General Discussion
I had an interesting experience last week while training, when a mid-50’s lifeguard at the local pool was turning 60-70 aged swimmers away by telling them how cold the pool was at 75F, when it was normally 83F. This was aggravating because discussions were brought up on the deck that these people could suffer heart attacks at that temperature, and to not risk training in such cold temperatures. Now, I understand I am a polar bear, but I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Question: Is there more of a risk of injury doing moderate training, all factors equal, in water that is 83F, or water that is 75F? Let's keep this conversation to the risk of heart attack for 'older' swimmers - at which temperature are they more susceptible to injury?

I am intrigued by this, and would love to present any factual findings to the board.
www.darren-miller.com
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
Tagged:

Comments

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited January 27
    As I've previously read or recall in some papers, cold water (undefined I'll have to find the actual figures but I think 68F/20C is the high end) immersion in an unhabituated person carries a maximum 5% chance of cardiac arrest, regardless of age, ie. someone with no experience at all. 5% would be too high for a pool but I honestly think that is for a figure in the 40s range. I can try and find some of the studies later, but Tipton & Golden are the experts in this area.

    Edit 1: I wrote a related blog post last night, about the different process in action when you enter cold water. Here's http://www.port.ac.uk/uopnews/2012/05/30/scientists-warn-swimmers-of-heart-attack-risk/, Uni of Portsmouth where he and Frank Golden are based, on the risks. As is often the case, I think we'll find that the definition of cold, as your starting point, is absent or implied.

    Edit 2: I have a few papers on cold I refer to regularly inc Tina Maakinen's Human Cold Exposure Adatation, Tipton et Al Human Physiological Responses to Cold Exposure, . But in the latter there is this sentence:

    When muscle glycogen is depleted prior to cold exposure (resting in 18°C water), thermo-
    regulatory function is unimpaired, and a greater reliance on lipid oxidation may permit continued shivering thermogenesis.


    This implies to me that Tipton (a global expext) and the other authors are saying 18C is NOT cold water as it's possible to maintain thermogenesis in such temperatures. So you could hypthesise 18C/64F as your lower limit.

    A NASA paper; Acclimatization to Cold in Humans, 1989:

    Thus, a man immersed in relatively cold water (22"C), loses very little heat from the hands and feet, a result of the greatly reduced tissue conductance in the extremities; much more heat is lost from the trunk because of high tissue conductance to this body area.

    That's 71F, within a margin of your 75F.

    Edit 3: However... in Immersion deaths and deterioration in swimming performance in cold water by Tipton & Golden, 1999, who literally wrote the book on sea survival, they tested swimmers at three temperatures, 25C, 18C, & 10C, where 10C is considered cold water, and more in line with what we all consider cold.

    The Interpretation states: Impaired performance and initial cardiorespiratory responses to immersion probably represent the major dangers to immersion victims. Consequently, treatment should be aimed at symptoms resulting from near-drowning rather than severe hypothermia.

    All ten swimmers completed 90 min swims at 25°C, eight completed swims at 18°C, and five at 10°C. In 10°C water, one swimmer reached swim failure after 61 min and four were withdrawn before 90 min with rectal temperatures of 35°C when they were close to swim failure. Swimming efficiency and length of stroke and swim angle increased more in 10°C water than in warmer water. These variables seemed to characterise impending swim failure.

    Edit 4: In a paper by the same authors, in 1989, Human Adaptations to Repeated Cold Exposures, the figure for cold water testing was 15C/59C.

    So I think given these papers, 3 out of 4 define cold as 18 or lower. So that's our starting point and your point of reference for cold.

    Edit 5: I'm doing this as much for my own fun as @SwimForever, looking for a definition of cold water outside the OW swimming community is something I've been meaning to do for a while.

    Edit 6: In Temperature dependence of habituation on the initial responses to cold water immersion Tipton & Golden, 1998. (those two names again) defined cold water for testing as 10C, with a reduction in the measured responses (specifically respiratory rate and heart rate) at 15C.

    In NONE of these studies is any mention made of cardiac risk during testing, nor of the selection method of the various groups, which I imagine would have been pre-screened to remove anyone with a known risk factor.

    Here's an important line from that study: Coldshock response is probably responsible for the majority of the 400-1000 UK civilian annual open water deaths. And that's in the context of having defined cold water as 10C (40F). Given that 15C saw a measured reduction, it's feasible to conclude that 25C/77F is far outside the range of being considered cold. In fact thermo-neutral water is 30 to 34F, but human thermal neutrality is achieved in water 4C colder than that. That's somewhere in another study, but that puts thermally neutral water for a swimmer at 26C/79F.
  • I know the risk of me being annoyed, redfaced and slower than usual is MUCH higher when the water temp goes above 80F.
    It's insane for someone,presumably with no medical training besides that which is required for being a lifeguard, could say that 75 F is "cold" and unsafe.
    I love swimming
    www.suziedodsswimcoaching.com
  • edited January 27
    There is an outdoor 50 meter pool out my way (Martin’s Dam) that is creek fed and without a heater. It is only open during the summer season, but still often goes into the 60’s. Most of the people I have seen there are even older than I am… never seen a heart attack.

    And out your way, North Park pool isn't heated. The couple of times I have been there it was full of people over 60. I didn't see a flush of heart attacks there either.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    My last pool, the only one I really had access to, had a time where they kept it at the upper 80's. I complained, but they kept saying, "for the kids!" They wouldn't return it to the mid-70's until I forwarded them some articles about what happened to Fran Crippen (RIP). Then they turned the heat back down.
  • DavidDavid Member
    When it comes to the water temperature, how hot is too hot?
    IronMike said:

    My last pool, the only one I really had access to, had a time where they kept it at the upper 80's. I complained, but they kept saying, "for the kids!" They wouldn't return it to the mid-70's until I forwarded them some articles about what happened to Fran Crippen (RIP). Then they turned the heat back down.

    For those who don't know the sad story about Fran Crippen here is an excellent article
    that asks questions regarding high water temperatures.

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/sports/other-sports/2012-10-27/two-years-later-swimmer-fran-crippens-death-appears-be-vain
  • They did the same thing at my pool... closing because it was 75. But if it was 88 in the summer, they won't even turn the cooling sprinklers on. I know this is an outdoor pool, but my college pool was kept at 74 constantly. I think for times to count in Olympic competition, it has to be 72-74. ( I know it's a specific temp, it's not in the. 80s).
    I was still warm getting out in the 75 degree pool... I don't get it .
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited January 28
    http://www.fina.org/H2O/docs/rules/FINAfacilitiesrules_20132017.pdf
    FR 2.11 Water Temperature shall be 25° - 28°C (77° -82.4° F). During competition the water in the pool must be kept at a constant level, with no appreciable movement. In order to observe health regulations in force in most countries, inflow and outflow is permissible as long as no appreciable current or turbulence is created.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • swimchica623swimchica623 Member
    edited January 28
    Thanks... knew it was in the 70s. Thought it was below 75 though! My thermometer might be a bit screwed, but still....my point is...if pools HAVE to be at 77-82 for FINA approved competition and so many are kept much warmer...they shouldn't be sending people away because of 2 degrees.
Sign In or Register to comment.