Pool Survey Find Americans Anxious to Swim

June 16, 2014

Frigid winter, late spring and delayed opportunity to swim in the pool cause cabin fever in the U.S.

Ipsos Swimming Survey Cabin Fever June 2014

One in three Americans — and more half of Americans in the Northeast and Midwest regions — said the long, brutal winter of 2014 caused their worst cabin fever in at least a decade, and the “cure” many are looking forward to is jumping in a swimming pool, according to a national Ipsos survey.

Months of heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures and gray skies may be causing more pronounced feelings of cabin fever. That first dip in the pool may be delayed by a cooler-than-usual spring.

In the recent Healthy Pools public opinion survey, 37% of Americans ages 18 to 54 selected swimming as their favorite way to put the long, frigid winter behind them. Gardening was second at 24%, with biking, hiking and camping each receiving 12% to 15%. Swimming was an especially popular choice among Americans ages 18 to 34, who selected it nearly three times as much as any other option.

The survey also found that many Americans were unaware of the many health benefits associated with swimming — and to a greater degree, held mistaken beliefs to the contrary. For example, one in five Americans incorrectly believes that swimming in properly chlorinated pools is bad for those with asthma.

“As long as the pool is properly maintained, swimming is a great activity for people with asthma. Swimming can also improve cardiovascular health, increase strength and flexibility, enhance motor skills, and help manage weight,” said Dr. Ralph Morris of the Water Quality & Health Council.  “It’s fun and it opens up a whole world of safe, water-based recreation.”

The new Healthy Pools survey also found that most Americans mistakenly think chlorine in the pool damages hair and makes eyes red:

  • Seventy-three percent of Americans incorrectly believe chlorine causes red eyes while swimming. The reality is that red, irritated eyes are actually caused by chloramines, a group of chemicals that forms when chlorine combines with substances brought into the pool by swimmers. These include body oils, sweat and urine.
  • Two in five Americans believe that chlorine turns hair green. This is a common misconception. When swimmers’ hair takes on a greenish tint, copper is the real culprit. Copper is added to pool water when old brass fittings or gas-heater coils dissolve over time, and chemicals to treat algae are used.

“Proper pool chemistry is key to healthy swimming. Swimmers can do their part to stop chloramines from forming in the first place by showering before swimming and not peeing in the pool,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Healthy Swimming Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “We also encourage swimmers to check chlorine levels and pH with pool test strips before getting in the pool.”

In order to experience the many health benefits of swimming, people first need to know how to swim. But the Healthy Pools survey found that one in five Americans admit that they lack that skill. 

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