What’s the Best Swimming Pool Temperature?

pool temperature

Ever jump in a cold pool? It’s not fun, that’s for sure! But a pool that’s too hot isn’t refreshing either. It can even put your health at risk, whether from stressing your body or the chemicals not keeping the pool safe.

So, what’s the right temperature? It depends on a variety of factors, many of which you can control, but some that you can’t.

Check out how to get your pool at the right temperature below.

Why is Pool Temperature Important?

Think about jumping in a pool. You want it refreshing, not too hot or not too cold, right? That’s why pool temperature is important.

Comfort aside, though, the right temperature ensures everyone is safe (certain at-risk people need specific temperatures), and it protects your pool from contaminants as too cold or too hot pools will affect your pool chemistry. They aren’t able to regulate themselves even with the right chemicals in the water.

Factors that Impact Pool Temperature

There isn’t a specific pool temp that is ‘just right’ because of the many factors affecting a pool’s temperature, including:

  • Location – Outdoor pools are affected by the sun, trees, and other obstacles. Pools with direct sun most of the day have higher temperatures than pools in areas without direct sunlight and/or trees or other large obstacles blocking the sun. If your pool doesn’t have direct sunlight, it will feel colder and may require more heat.
  • Number of swimmers – The more bodies you have in the pool at one time, the higher the temperature gets. Body heat increases the pool temperature naturally, decreasing the need for excessive heater use.
  • Pool size – The larger the pool, the longer it takes to heat up, even if it sits in the direct sun. Large pools usually need a lot of help from a heater.
  • Type of pool – Above ground and in-ground pools may differ slightly in temperature even in the same location, and it depends on the sun exposure and other obstacles in the way.

What’s the Ideal Pool Temperature?

The ideal pool temperature depends on who is using it, but overall, 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. But again, it depends on who’s using it.

If young children occupy the pool, keep the temperature around 84 degrees. Their muscles won’t go into shock at that temperature, and they’ll have an easier time relaxing, whether they know how to swim or are just learning. Bodies that are fighting to stay regulated because the pool’s water temperature is too hot or too cold have a harder time focusing on what’s important (swimming and staying safe).

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If seniors or adults with arthritis use the pool, they’ll want the temperature even higher – usually between 84 degrees and 88 degrees. As the body ages, it becomes less tolerant of extreme cold and hot temperatures, and warmer temperatures help muscles relax, which is important when you have stiff or painful muscles and want to reduce joint pain.

Is there a Minimum Swimming Pool Temperature?

Recreational swimming pools shouldn’t be any colder than 78 degrees. However, Olympic swimmers swim in pools as cold as 77 degrees. Swimming in water that’s any colder puts you at risk of going into cardiac arrest.

Pool chemicals also can’t do their job when the water is too cold, putting the water at risk of being unhealthy. Contaminated water can damage your health, especially if there is bacteria growth.

What Pool Temperature is Too Warm?

Just like water can be too cold, water that’s too hot puts swimmers at risk of dehydration, muscle cramps, and overheating. Warmer temperatures also create a breeding ground for bacteria, algae, and organisms. Water that’s too warm isn’t refreshing – it’s almost harmful to the body.

Are Certain Pool Temperatures Unsafe?

Temperatures above 88 and below 77 are unsafe for pool water. Not only can the pool chemicals not work correctly, but it also puts swimmers at risk of serious health issues.

Pool temperatures that are too high or too low make it hard for swimmers to swim effectively and could increase their risk of drowning if they suffer heart issues, muscle cramps, or begin overheating. Paying close attention to a pool’s temperature is important.

Pool Temperature Cheat Sheet

Regardless of whether you are doing pool maintenance on an above ground pool, inground pool, or indoor pools the desired temp really depends on what the pool is being used for.

See the below table to understand if you’re freezing your swimmers or making them feel like they’re in a hot tub.

Activity & Temperature Ranges

  • Fitness/Competitive swimming (78 – 80 degrees)
  • Recreational swimming activities (80 – 83 degrees)
  • Children & Babies (84 – 88 degrees)
  • Hydrotherapy (94 – 98 degrees)

How to Measure Pool Temperature

Your pool heater (assuming you have one) will likely have a pool thermometer, but it may not be as accurate as you think. If you have a large pool, the heater measures the temperature of the water right near it, but that doesn’t mean the water across the pool isn’t colder.

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If you want an accurate reading, purchase a separate pool thermometer and check all areas of the pool. You don’t have to invest a lot of money – a simple analog pool thermometer will do the trick unless you prefer fancy pool tools, like a digital floating thermometer or an infrared thermometer.

How to Control Pool Temperature

Unless you live in an area where the pool has direct sunlight for most of the day, you’ll need a pool heater. Always check the temperature of the pool if you don’t have an automatic timer on the heater, and shut it off when the pool reaches the ideal temperature.

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But, you don’t want your heater running 24-hours a day, right? To prevent any heat loss, you can also invest in a solar cover, use your thermometer regularly, and keep up with repairs and maintenance. Depending on the surface area of your solar pool cover and the outdoor air temperature, this may be all you need year-round.

When You Want a Warmer Temperature

Warmer pool water typically isn’t ideal except for seniors or people with arthritis. Warmer water helps the blood flow and muscles loosen. It also helps seniors with thinner skin and tolerance to feel more comfortable. So, they may find that temperatures between 90-92 degrees help with this.

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Many water aerobics instructors prefer warm water (84 – 90 degrees) for high intensity water exercises to avoid strained muscles, according to United States Water Fitness Association.

When You Want a Cooler Temperature

Cooler temperatures can have their benefits, but temperatures lower than 77 degrees can start to affect breathing and even cause you to go into shock. Olympic athletics lap swimming in a lap pool, is one example of when it’s acceptable for your swimming pool water to be cooler for your swimmer.

Cooler water may only be good for competitive swimmers who are being monitored by a professional or doctor. Typically fitness classes use warmer temperatures to keep the muscles loose and pliable throughout the workout.

6 Efficiency Tips to Keep Costs Down

It’s no secret that maintaining a pool is expensive, especially when you need to keep the temperatures high. Energy Saver says that “each degree rise in temperature will cost 10%-30% more in energy costs.” But, there are always ways to keep the costs down.

  • Keep up with the pool’s maintenance and repairs. When the pool isn’t running optimally, especially the heater, the temperature doesn’t stay consistent, and everything has to work longer and harder, increasing the costs.
  • Invest in a pool solar cover. Use energy from the sun to warm the pool and give your heater a break. Use the solar cover to keep the pool warm at night, and you’ll put less wear and tear on the heater.
  • Give the pool a darker finish. Just like black clothing attracts the sun, a darker finish absorbs more of the sun’s rays. This increases the pool temperature, reducing the amount you need to use the heater.
  • Stop the wind. While you can’t actually stop the wind, you can create a barrier that prevents it from cooling the pool off, making the heater work harder. Create a barrier with trees, hedges, or even a manmade structure.
  • Ensure optimal plumbing. If the water has a hard time getting through the pipes, the pump has to work harder, which increases the cost of running the pool.
  • Automate the pool operations. Automate as much as you can so you can run the heater and pump when electric costs are lower (usually at night).

Bottom Line

There isn’t a universally perfect pool temperature – it depends on who is using the pool and what they prefer. However, keeping the temperature between 77 and 88 degrees is ideal for the safety and wellbeing of all swimmers. Many believe that 85 degrees is the sweet spot. Very young and very old people may need temperatures near the higher end, while average teens and adults prefer it on the lower end.

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