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Children and Hypothermia In Swimming Pools

Is your child at risks?
Hypothermia, children and swimming pools

Are you a bit too blissful in your ignorance about your child them getting cold?

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

 I don't get it!

Why do we let commercial swimming pools advertise and promote baby and toddler swimming lessons but we don't require that those pools MUST maintain the recommended temperature for babies and toddler?

But since it is not require the first question any parent that is considering enrolling their child into such a class is: "what is the temperature of your pool?

If they say it's 28°C (82°F) like most lap pools are, then tell them they are nuts and look for a good swimming school.

Seriously I recently went to visit family up in Sydney and I wanted to take my granddaughter swimming. I was just blown away to discover that three of the main pools in Sydney taught all their classes in 28°C.

Honestly most parents are sensible when it comes to letting children swim in any form of swimming pool regardless of whether it is heated or not. It's fairly obvious when children are getting cold and you would get them out even if they don't want to.

Having said that I really think that some pools are just a little blase about the temperatures in the water particularly when it comes to babies.

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F).

Ok so if your babies normal body temperature is 37°C (about 99°F)and if the pool water you are putting them in is around 27°C to 30°C then do you think that your child is going to get cold relatively quickly?

And just in case you missed the rhetorical nature of the question the answer is an emphatic "Yes"!

All authority bodies around the world recommend that baby swimming lessons are preformed in 32°C - 34°C (90°F - 93°F) and that children's lessons are no more than 30 min.

 It has to be obvious to a blind man that even at the recommended temperature your child is still going to get cold.

So if you want your child to have swimming lessons what can you do?

Children and Hypothermia In Swimming Pools
Happy Babies In Water Are Warm Babies
Know the temperature of the pool, watch them and get them out as soon as they show signs of getting cold.

If a list of symptoms can be considered good this list of symptoms of Hypothermia is one of the most succinct.

Your swim teacher should know these symptoms and you should be comfortable that they will assist you in keeping an eye on your children.

But if your child is getting blue lips or they are starting to shiver, Get Them Out of the water and into something warmer. Forget about the teacher. This would never happen with a good teacher.

Lastly if Hypothermia is such an issue why aren't more cares getting their children to wear Childrens Wetsuit. Can you live without them? Defiantly! But should you? That is a question only you can answer.

I know what my granddaughter will be wareing next time I take her swimming. My question is why aren't more parents putting their children into wetsuits for their swimming lessons?



  1. Dear Richard, I am searching for scientific resources on the topic. When you say "All authority bodies around the world recommend that baby swimming lessons are preformed in 32°C - 34°C" would you happen to have supporting links for that?

    1. Yep, that has become a problem. Not that I think the recommendation has changed. there are a lot of pools, many of which are on the net, that uses this temperature as a selling point. I personally still think it is the best option. Though I have to say when I started swimming teaching 28 Deg C was the best you could hope for in a pool and all my babies seem to do ok. If a little blueish at the end of the lesson.
      When I wrote this article I didn't feel the need to link to it as the recommendation was everywhere on the net. Over time, however, all those reports have been put behind logins and you can't get them without being a member or paying for it. It seems everybody wants you to join their site and even pay for this type of information. As a marketer, I understand the need to do this but it does seem to me that this is the sort of information that should be readily available from a reputable organization, freely.
      Or maybe they just think that it is so standard now that documentation is unnecessary
      As I recall the American Academy of Pediatrics used to have something and Royal Life Saving Australia also. My suggestion would be to write to them and see if they will direct you to the appropriate documentation.
      Sorry I could not be of more help

  2. Hi Richard. I work as an instructor at a locally operated pool in the States. We share a similar frustration here as we currently have no cold water policy, despite being an outdoor pool and operating through the colder months—we're in Florida, so it doesnt get too cold, but there should definitely be a parameter for when we stop operating. Since no policy exists, management and parents still expect us to hold lessons even when conditions are not ideal for little ones—we've even been criticised (by either) for attempting to reschedule for warmer days or holding water safety lessons out of the pool. Today it'll be 49°F during our afternoon lessons with the preschoolers and all signs point to us having to hold them without accommodations... and I'm really anxious.

    We're heated, and cut lessons early if we can, but it's so frustrating to be in a position like this. It feels like there's only so much we can do.

    Anyways, I'm happy I came across your post. At least I know some people share the same concerns!

    1. G'day, I understand your frustration. Don't get over anxious though. Just keep an eye on your students and get them out and warm as soon as they show any unhealthy signs. Keep up the good work. You sound like a teacher that cares an the parents will notice that and respond to your advice. Who knows your influence may even result in good policy one day.