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Temperature Requirements for a Competitive Swimming Pool

by
author image Joe Smyser
Writing since 2004, Joe Smyser has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the "European Journal of Public Health" and the "Journal of Biolaw and Business," among other publications and organizations. Smyser is a Ph.D. student in public health at UC San Diego and holds a Master of Public Health from San Diego State University.
Temperature Requirements for a Competitive Swimming Pool
The International Swimming Federation and the Red Cross have guidelines for water temperature. Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

You often don't know what to expect when you dip your toe into a new pool. It can feel like anything from ice water to bath water, and anywhere in between. Competitive pools, on the other hand, have strict rules regarding their temperature. FINA, or the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the international governing body for swimming sports, dictates the precise temperature for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. In addition to FINA, the American Red Cross has recommendations for pool temperature that can be used as a guide for fitness and recreational swimming, and for water therapy.

FINA and Swimming

FINA, or in English, the International Swimming Federation, was established in 1908 and currently represents 202 separate national federations. FINA represents the International Olympic Committee and is the world governing body for aquatic sports. It determines the rules and regulations for swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming. FINA is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

FINA Rules for Water Temperature

For swimming in both standard competition and the Olympics, FINA mandates a water temperature of between 25 to 28 degrees C, or between 77 and 82 degrees F. For water polo in both standard competition and the Olympics, FINA mandates 26 degrees C, or 79 degrees F, plus or minus one degree. For synchronized swimming in both standard competition and the Olympics, the FINA regulation temperature is 27 degrees C, or 81 degrees F, plus or minus one degree. Finally, for diving in both standard competition and the Olympics, the FINA regulation temperature is not less than 26 degrees C, or 79 degrees F.

American Red Cross and Swimming

The American Red Cross, also known as ARC and the Red Cross, is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 and is a humanitarian organization. It provides a range of services in the U.S., including guidelines and recommendations regarding safety. These include recommended water temperatures for fitness and recreational swimming, and for water therapy. The American Red Cross is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

American Red Cross Rules for Water Temperature

For fitness swimming -- for example, swimming laps -- the Red Cross recommends 78 degrees F. For recreational swimming, in other words, simply being in a pool for fun, the Red Cross recommends 81 degrees F. Finally, for water therapy, or exercises designed to be performed in the water, the Red Cross recommends 86 degrees F. The Red Cross notes that water temperatures in home pools are largely determined by your individual needs and preferences.

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