Pools are sanitized in many different ways. Some rely on high levels of chlorine and other chemicals; others on ultra-violet systems and still others use saline-based systems. These can cause different reactions in different swimmers’ hair, skin and eyes, as well as affect swimsuits, caps and goggles. Here are some tips to manage hair, skin, eye and swim gear care of swimmers.
Before swimming, all make-up, lotion, oils and sunscreen should be removed and swimmers should always use the showers to rinse off before entering the pool. The Olympium actually requires a “soapy shower” prior to swimming. When people don’t shower these products and body oils and debris can cause the pool chemical levels to rise to address those added impurities. The resulting elevated chemical levels can irritate the skin and eyes, as well as fade suits and wear out swim gear faster.
For the hair, it is suggested to use a conditioner regularly to protect the hair from pool chemicals. Chemically treated (colored or permed) hair is more susceptible to changing color or being damaged from swimming. Synchro swimmers wear swim caps, which can provide a partial barrier from the chemicals in the pool. It is suggested that caps be put on either over dry hair or shower-wet hair prior to entering the pool. There are special shampoos and conditioners for swimmers to help remove pool chemicals and treat damaged hair. These are available through swim shops.
For the skin, besides showering prior to entering the pool, swimmers should also shower after swimming to remove any chemicals. There are special skin lotions for swimmers available through swim shops, or normal lotions can be used, depending on skin sensitivity.
To prevent the development of “swimmers’ ear”, which can develop when excess water is left in the ears after swimming or showering, there are over-the-counter preventatives that can be used that dry out the ears. Some swim shops carry specific ear treatments for swimmers, or special earplugs to keep the water out. It is important to dry the ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.
For most practices, the swimmers will wear goggles; however, for routine competitions and for some practices prior to competitions, synchro swimmers need to swim their routines without goggles. There are over-the-counter eye treatments for red, itchy or burning eyes, but read the labels to see if these are usable for eye irritations caused by swimming. Some swim shops carry specific products for swimmers. Swimmers should be sure to remove make-up before swimming. Some swimmers, who wear contacts, have used a special kind of disposable contact lenses that stay in the eye even when eyes are opened underwater. These may provide a partial barrier from chemicals.
For goggles, caps, noseclips and suits, a good rinsing in cold water will remove most of the chemicals. Suits should always be hung to dry and not left wet in swim bags. Suits can be laundered periodically by hand in a gentle washing solution. Goggles, caps and noseclips should be completely dried after rinsing. Caps can be hung on a hook or doorknob to allow the inside to dry. A little bit of corn starch or baby powder can be used inside caps and on noseclips for longer life of these items.