All water is not created equal, even in swimming pools. I’d forgotten about this until I returned to the scene of my first consistent swimming experience, an indoor pool in the East Bay that is notorious for giving me flashbacks of the first time I went lap-swimming there and recited the majority of Interview with the Vampire to myself while I paddled along.
I’ve been swimming at the local YMCA for the better part of a year now, and the water there is familiar. The pool water is airy in lightness (is someone playing “light as a feather, stiff as a board” with pool water?), and my legs of all body parts feel remarkably buoyant (I swear I kick better in Y water than anywhere else). Swapping back over to my old swimming grounds was a jolt to my system: literally, the water felt heavy. I felt almost as if I was swimming through liquidy-pudding. There seemed to be more resistance—no swim paddles required.
As I banged out a mile and a half, I was visited with memories of pools past. My first swimming haunt in Orange County was somewhere between smooth and thick water, while the 24 Hour pool literally felt like bathwater—I kind of doubt chemicals were infused at all (and I tried so hard not to think about that or open my mouth).
In true curious-cat fashion, I figured there had to be an explanation for all this water-discrepancy. I turned to the trusty internet (though I wish I had time to make some phone calls on this one). First up, About.com: “In a salt-water pool (one with a chlorine generator) the water feels smooth, your skin feels smooth and many people feel more refreshed.” Basically, there are multiple ways to chlorinate your pool. There are chlorine generators, non-chlorine generators, and a variety of polarity units you can mix and match to keep your pool healthy as a clam.
Next up on the “What the heck is this about?” answer series lead me to a discussion board. Apparently, some pools feel “fast*” while others feel slow, which could be another way to describe that pudding-y feeling. Alex F on answers.yahoo** commented, “What makes a pool ‘fast’ is a combination of many different things…A: the temperature, and B: the chemicals. Mostly it’s how the pool makes the swimmers feel, because in swimming, if you feel faster, you go faster.(usually) For example, a colder pool feels faster than a warmer pool, because the water feels less thick and it’s easier to cut through.” Interesting that temperature is really playing a role here, no? I had zero idea.
Oh, and this is interesting too! The way the gutter system is set up, and the depth of the pool play part as well. Still from answers.yahoo, ” ‘Fast’ pools have profiles that minimize turbulence. If the pool is uniformly 8 or more feet deep, wave reflection off the bottom is minimized. (Any pool that has a “deep end” and “shallow end” will not be as fast.) Spill-over gutter systems absorb the majority of surface waves, rather than reflecting them back onto swimmers. An empty lane on each side (so nobody has to swim next to a wall) also helps.” There’s a lot more to this than I imagined.
So basically, a pool is going to feel heavy or light (my terms) or fast/slow (everyone else’s terms) based upon how deep the pool is, how many other people are splashing around, the temperature, and where excess water goes as it hits the sides of the pool.Which means in theory, I might be able to judge how a pool is going to feel to me simply by dipping my toes in and taking some visual notes about it.
* I’m imagining a promiscuous pool now.
** Kiddies, normally discussion boards are not the best source of information. But we’re not doing rocket science right now. And I’m guessing if I’m off base, Dr. Dad will be on my case any moment now…