Water Safety: How To Protect Your Competitive Swimmer from Chlorine

swimming_swimmer_femaleSummer is fast approaching and thousands of kids and their parents will become regulars at the local pool. But did you know chronic exposure to chlorine can harm lungs and cause or exacerbate asthma? Children absorb chlorine more readily than adults, and competitive swimmers, because of their increase level of activity, absorb chlorine at an ever higher rate. Elite athletes often swim multiple times a day, which creates a vicious cycle of eliminating and accumulating chlorine in the body.

 

Why is Chlorine Dangerous?

We are very concerned and go through great lengths to eliminate chlorine form our drinking water and even shower water, so obviously we understand it may be dangerous to our health. The main problem with chlorine is the by-product known as chloramine, which is a gas produced when chlorine combines with sweat, sunscreen, and even germs and urine.

What are the Main Health Concerns of Chlorine?

There are many studies on the subject (see links below), and the main clinical concerns are asthma (“swimmer’s asthma”) and other respiratory or sinus illnesses, eczema and skin dryness, and even some types of bladder cancer. The highest risk occurs for people who swim in over-chlorinated indoor pools with poor ventilation. If you can smell the chlorine, stay away! Over-chlorinated pools can even cause dental enamel erosion!

How can I Help My Young Athlete?

According to an article by The Wellness Mama, there are few things that kids and competitive swimmers can do to minimize chlorine exposure and its effects.

  1. Avoid chlorinated pools whenever possible – Looking for pools with alternative water treatement methods is an obvious way to reduce risk. But even with chlorinated pools, make sure your athlete swims in a well ventilated pool and if you can smell the chlorine, make sure to speak to the pool  manager so adjustments can be made.
  2. Shower BEFORE and after swimming! This will minimize chlorine exposure while swimming.
  3. Use Vitamin C- Vitamin C has been known to help neutralize chlorine and help undo some of the damage caused by it. Vitamin C can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
  4. Protect the Skin- Using a lotion as a physical barrier can help reduce chlorine absorption. Read the details HERE on how to make your own “DeChlorinating Lotion.” This one contains almond or olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, warm water, vitamin C powder and Shea Butter and/or Essential oils.

Go out there and enjoy summer, and for those of you who are competitive swimmers, strive for gold! But make sure you protect yourself!

 

Further Reading:

Chlorinated Swimming Pools and Adolescent Respiratory Health

Health Effects of Chlorine

How to Reduce the Risk of Swimming of Chlorinated Pools

 

 

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