How to keep children warm in the swimming pool

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Most swimming pools have lower temperatures than that of the human body – this is 25 to 28 degrees for the pools and 37 for the body. Some pools can be considerably colder and others warmer, but generally a swimming pool will always feel cold.

Through heat transference and heat conduction, the warmer bodies heat transfers to the cool surroundings (water) which does mean you get colder but the water won’t get any warmer unless the pool was heaving with people. Water feels cold because it steals heat from you body, and then spreads throughout the whole body of water. Because the area of water is so big, you will never feel the effects of it warming up.

For adults who can swim well this isn’t a problem but for children this can make them chilly if they don’t stay on top of it. Here’s some quick tips to help keep your children warm in a swimming pool.

Don’t dive in

It may sound counter intuitive but jumping straight in to ‘get it over with quickly’ isn’t the best way to go about it. This can give them cold shock and lose a lot of body heat quickly and it can take longer to acclimatise, ruining the initial experience. Wading in slowly, splashing some water on their upper body will help get the body and water closer together without a total shock.

Children’s bodies are poor are holding on to and generating heat, so diving in is worse for them than it is for adult. This is especially true for babies who are terrible at internal temperature management.

Go in slow and easy.

Stay active

kid swimming in a pool

Swimming and generally moving in the pool is the best way to stay warm. The key is to keep the heart rate high so that blood runs faster in the veins. Slow moving blood makes the body get colder. Unless your child is swimming in a icy pool then constantly moving around and swimming will make them not even notice the low temperature until they get out. Over time, your child will acclimatise to the water and the temperature won’t bother them.

For babies, this isn’t as easy. Parents should try and get their heart rate going by helping them wade in, encouraging them to kick and splash their arms or by holding them with both hands and skimming them through the water, as if they are swimming.

For children who are unable to swim, make sure they have decent floaties to help them get the best out of the pool and be able to stay active (and therefore warm).

Wet suit

A wet suit (not a specialist diving suit!) for children can cover more surface area and add a layer which can slow down the process of conduction and keep them warmer, for longer. But, it’s not a cure all as even a wet suit still leaves some exposed surface area such as the head (more on this later), hands, legs and feet. Wet suits are recommended for younger children who aren’t as good at keeping themselves active or holding on to their heat in their muscles yet.

However, in terms of keeping children warm in the swimming pool this is certainly once of the best things you can buy along with all of our other tips which are free!

Swimming cap

A swimming cap is another way to reduce exposed skin for the water to steal out of. However, on its own it will do very little as the head only covers 10% of your whole body’s surface area. It is a myth that most people lose heat through their head. However, working on conjunction with a long sleeved wet suit it can definitely add another layer and keep them warm for longer. With a wet suit, cap and swimming constantly your child may even end up feeling rather warm!

Summary

Unless they’re swimming in very cold pools or an outdoor swimming pools, children should be just fine keeping themselves warm by simply being active and splashing about. For those less active kids or ones who just seem to feel the cold more than others, we recommend a wet suit and a swimming cap to add an extra layer to keep the heat in. The magical thing about bodies is that there is always heat inside – the trick is how to create more of it (moving) and how to keep it in (suitable clothing).