Healthy Swimming - Indoor or Outdoor

child swimmer

Part of safe swimming is protecting yourself from illnesses that can be spread in the water.

Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) are spread by coming in contact with water from swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans (recreational water) that is contaminated with germs. 

Germs such as E. coli, Shigella, Giardia, Norovirus, and Cryptosporidium can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.

How Do These Illnesses Spread

Swimmers who are ill and have diarrhea may contaminate the swimming pool, hot tub, or other water that you are swimming in. Chlorine does kill these germs but it takes time. Some germs may take up to a few days before the chlorine will kill it.

Keep Germs Out of the Pool 

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick. This is especially important for kids in diapers.
  • Try not to swallow the pool water. In fact, avoid getting water in your mouth if you can.
  • Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water. 
  • Parents take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. 
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool and cause illness.
  • Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming, especially their bottom.


More Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention