Danger! polluted swimming pools

A boy in a children’s swimming pool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in the seventy’s swimmers were chased out of rivers across the country as water pollution posed an increasing health risk. Children were scared out of their wits by a a sinister public safety film, with swimming pools promoted as the only safe place to swim. Now as bathers refuse to wash properly before entering the water, swimming pools have become polluted.

Dr Chalmers (Public Health Wales)  said “cryptosporidium (a disease that causes severe diarrhea) could survive chlorine in pools, and stressed the need to shower with soap before use.”

This advice follows a steep rise in infections caught at public swimming pools. Public Health Wales (PHW) says it had 283 confirmed cases by the end of September, compared to 248 for the whole of 2011. Swimmers should now shower before using the pool and not swim for 48 hours after having diarrhea.

Last month, 20 people were infected after swimming at a pool in Newport and the pool was closed for six weeks costing thousands of pounds to clean.

The British at one time used swimming pools as a public baths. Cheaper than a private tub, the swimming pool became the place to wash away bodily filth during the industrial revolution. Throughout Europe showering before entering a communal pool is obligatory but the British find the prospect of having a proper wash distasteful, preferring to swim in murky, polluted bath water instead.

We are now so ‘body image’ conscious that more and more clothing is being used in the pool. For men and boys dirty underwear is often worn under swimming shorts adding the remnants of washing powder and other deposits to the mix of pollutants in pool water.

Whether swimming indoors or out you are well advised to look at the quality of the water. If the water looks murky or you detect a strong smell of chlorine ask for your money back and find a safer place to swim. Wild swimmers are often chided for bucking the indoors only swimming mantra. Yet swimming in the clean bathing waters that stream through our countryside, the peace and quiet, stunning scenery and the wonders of nature continue to attract swimmers to the wild as a clean alternative to the murky smelly waters at many indoor pools.

Read the history of British swimming: Hung Out to Dry

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