Healthy Swimming Tips for Your Family

Healthy Swimming Tips for Your Family

A recreational water illness or RWI is an illness caused by germs in the water. The germs are spread by swallowing water, or coming in contact with pool water that has germs in it.

One of the best ways to prevent RWI is to avoid swallowing pool or spa water.

Other precautions to prevent yourself or family members from getting sick are as follows:

  • Always shower and wash before entering the pool or spa

  • Always make sure young children wear a swim diaper

  • Never enter a pool if suffering from diarrhea

  • Always test pool and spa water for ph and chlorine before swimming

Below are a list of RWI’s that can be contracted via pools or spas.

Shigellosis - Also called bacillary dysentery, this is an acute bacterial disease characterized by fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea caused by Shigella species..

E. coli - Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a serious disease causing organism that causes diarrhea

Giardiasis - Also known as Giardia enteritis, is a protozoan infection primarily of the small intestine, may bring on acute diarrhea Cryptosporidiosis - Cryptosporidim parvum causes a parasitic infection the major symptom in humans is diarrhea, and also severe abdominal cramping.

Norwalk virus or Epidemic Viral Gastroenteropathy - Acute infectious nonbacterial gastroenteritis, Viral diarrhea, Epidemic diarrhea and vomiting, is caused by a virus and not a bacteria. transmission via hot tubs and spas has been implicated in several outbreaks of Norwalk virus.

Pseudomonas - Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes a variety of illnesses when associated with recreational swimming, but the most common manifestation is "swimmer's ear and a variety of skin infections. The bacteria is commonly present in the environment, but grows well in warm water environments such as hot tubs and spas.


Swim diapers and swim pants do hold a certain amount of residue, but are not leak proof and do not 100% keep germs from entering the water. The pants should be checked regularly and always in a bathroom area, or designated area taking care to wash hands after.

All swimmers unwell with diarrhea should wait at least 2 weeks before swimming in a pool or recreational facility, after becoming ill.

It only takes one person with diarrhea to spread germs in a pool or water park.

The chlorine used in swimming pools kills most, but not all germs that cause RWIs. Some RWI’s can breed in the most well maintained swimming pools. Some conditions such as cryptosporidium require high levels of chlorine to kill off the parasite. Often super chlorination is required to bring the pool water back to a healthy state.

There are a number of quite disconcerting illnesses that can be transmitted via the swimming pool or spa, especially at public swimming centers.

As swimming is one of the best forms of activity to enjoy with your family and to help keep fit and healthy, possibly one of the safer methods of swimming, where possible, is via your own backyard pool. Ultimately there is more control over who is swimming at your own premises. It’s equally very important to maintain your backyard pools or spas correctly. Engaging a professional such as Poolwerx who can come to your home and take care of all the maintenance issues is one of the easiest and best ways to ensure pool water quality. If you prefer to take care of things yourself, always take your pool water to a professional pool retail store, such as Poolwerx, for a full spectrum test on a regular basis and at least once a month.

Some of the illnesses listed above sound quite off putting and make you think twice about going for a swim it isn’t meant to be! Swimming is a fantastic exercise and so enjoyable for the whole family. By taking a few simple steps, particularly around your own backyard pool where you have more control over who is swimming, your sport can be very safe and fun. Lets face it may sports in life can be much more dangerous such as - skydiving, rock climbing, mountain biking, whitewater river rafting and skiing.


  • Always test your pool for ph and chlorine before swimming

  • Discourage children from putting their head under water, particularly in hot tubs or spas

  • Manage children swimming in proper swim diapers

  • Engage a professional pool service technician to maintain your pools on a regular basis, or take your pool water to a pool store at least once a month