When is the pool temp just right?


Don’t ask members of the Polar Bear Club how warm it has to be to swim. These winter swimmers plunge into the Atlantic Ocean every Sunday from November until April and revel in the chill. Swimming temperatures are a matter of preference — some people can tolerate much colder temperatures than others.

According to The United States Water Fitness Association, water temperatures for younger children and the elderly will generally need warmer temperatures ranging from 84 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit, while a comfortable pool temperature for adults is 85 to 89 degrees. If you are swimming for fitness, cooler temperatures of 78 to 84 degrees are recommended.

Furthermore, according to USA swimming the following are some general water temperature guidelines:

82 degree water (and lower)

  • Competitive swim team training
  • Adult aerobic lap swimming
  • High intensity vertical water exercise

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 78-80 degrees; never higher than 82 degrees. The more aerobic the activity, the lower the air temperature needs to be.

86 – 88 degree water

  • Learn-to-swim
  • Moderate vertical water exercise and water walking
  • Younger age (10-under) swim training
  • Low intensity lap swimming
  • Synchronized swimming
  • Recreational swimming

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 82-84 degrees; never higher than 84 degrees and slightly lower is OK.

90 – 92 degree water

  • Aquatic therapy
  • AiChi
  • Learn-to-swim for children

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 84 degrees; never higher than 84 degrees and slightly lower is OK.

While there seems to be a very small range of optimal temperatures for swimming, aquatic exercise and aquatic therapy, the good news is that our bodies can adapt to temperatures quickly.

As far as warm water goes, the preparation for handling it isn’t as well researched, but it’s best to keep warm water for lounging around in.

If you’re looking for a perfect pool temperature, not too hot, not too cold, 77 – 82 degrees (25 – 28°C) may be the way to go according to most recreational swimmers.

Keep it cool for competitions

In most cases, pools should be comfortable, and the average swimmer will agree with this. However, there are times where swimmers aren’t interested in how the water feels. Instead, they’re interested in going as fast as humanly possible.

Competitive swimmers require different conditions than the average participant. According to USA Swimming, competitive swimmers are one of the few categories where lower water temps are preferred for best results. Lower water temperatures equal to or lesser than 82 degrees are generally cold enough for athletes competing or training. Any warmer, and swimmers may overheat in the water and their performance may suffer. Temperatures in the low 80s and high 70s are also recommended for adult aerobic lap swimming and any other high intensity water exercises.

What is the best water temp for beginners?

According to the United States Water Fitness Association, most pools across the country rest between 86 and 88 degrees. This is the temperature that most people find comfortable when first learning how to swim. Some age groups may benefit from slightly more targeted temperature ranges, such as 3- to 5-year-olds at 86 to 90 degrees and 6- to 13-year-olds at 84 to 86 degrees, but no serious injuries will result from a pool that hovers around the high 80s.

This temperature is also perfect for recreational swimming activities, synchronized swimming, diving, water walking and low-intensity lap swimming. You should also note that water and air temperature are two sides of the patron safety coin. Activities that cause swimmers to breathe harder require cooler air, and a pool between 86 and 88 degrees should never have air higher than 84 degrees around it. Slightly lower air temperatures don’t cause immediate problems either.

Higher temperatures are beneficial for Aquatic therapy

If cooler pools are better suited for high-intensity activities such as competitive swimming and athletic training, While pools should be never above 95 degrees, anywhere in the 90-92 degree range creates a comfortable, yet therapeutically warm environment for older swimmers or infants and toddlers learning how to swim or preforming aquatic therapy and exercise. Higher temperatures stimulate blood flow to the muscles and can reduce joint pain.

Find the sweet spot

Odds are that your pool will host more than just one of the above types of swimming activities. Is there a single temperature that you can set your pool at to keep every type of swimmer happy?

According to the Washington Post, that answer is yes – 85 degrees. Donny Wensinger, manager of Virginia’s Great Waves Waterpark, told the news source that 2014’s mild summer caused him to experiment with his temperatures. Above 85 degrees, Wensigner had packed parking lots, long lines and crowded pools. Below that number, the people disappeared.

We can help!

For help regulating your pool’s water temperature, contact or visit Secard Pools at one of our 7 locations for information on our heating options.

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