If you are lucky enough to choose where you can swim, here’s a quick guide that will help you decide if it’s worth the extra 15-minute-drive for a “better” swim.
1- Ozone vs. Chlorine vs. Saltwater
Ozone Pools: They use between 60% and 90% less chlorine than conventional chlorinated pools. You wont smell like chlorine afterwards and won’t have to worry about longer showers. The problem is, can you find one?
Chlorine Pools: It will take forever to get that smell washed away. If faced with a choice, pick a pool that uses an ozonator.
Saltwater: Saltwater is clean, but can and will cause rashes around friction areas (neck, shoulders, armpits).
2- 25 meters vs. 50 meters vs. open water
25-meter-pool: It always feels like you’re getting more done! Statistically, you are also faster. It’s nice to train your flip turns, drills, and technique here…
50-meter-pool: It’s good for both sprints and long distance swims, but it’s definitely more tiring than a 25-meter-pool. Better simulates open water than a 25-meter pool, and the pool’s length also gives you time to focus on technique.
Open water: If you compete in open water swims it is essential to swim in the sea every now and then, in all conditions. You need to regularly train your open water stroke technique, since your stroke differs in the pool. It’s a good place to learn how to use a landmark for directions and to pace yourself in various water conditions. Training in the sea every once in a while is absolutely essential for the mind, even if you do not regularly compete in open water races. Swimming in the sea won’t help much with technical workouts, sprints, or drills. Currents can also deceive you into thinking you swam slower/faster than usual.
3- Overflow vs. skimmer
Simple choice: if you want a smoother workout, pick overflow. If you want a rough workout that’s a bit of a challenge, go for a classic skimmer pool. This is because waves you create while swimming will be absorbed by the overflow structure of the pool, while bouncing off the walls and right back at you in a skimmer pool. The difference is not that big, but will be noticeable if many people are swimming at once.
4- Settings/pools not covered
25 yard pool (official NCAA size): too similar to 25 meter pool.
Lakes, ponds, rivers: similar, but less intense, than swimming in the sea.
Odd/irregular pool shapes: if you are not serious about your swim, go for it.
Who is Fares?
Fares graduated from the University of Southern California and began his career at a community empowerment organization in Amman as a social researcher. He then moved to Beirut to work at an independent record label focusing on alternative Arabic music. After that, Fares co-founded Passos Alegeres – teaching and performing Capoeira and Samba. Fares now works with Wamda as Operations Manager and will one day snowboard down the north face of the Eiger. In his free time, Fares is a dedicated open water swimmer.