Have you ever felt a little uncomfortable while swimming in a pool that’s really warm? Well, in this episode of Whiteboard Wednesday, we’re explaining how this impacts your swim training and sharing tips for getting a great workout in – even if the water is hot!

Whether it’s for leisure, pleasure or competition, swimming is a great way to improve your health and wellbeing.

Read More: The Amazing Health Benefits of Swimming

Sometimes we feel better than other times in the water. A lot of this has to do with the temperature of the water we swim in. Whether it’s in a pool or in the open water, swimming in HOT water can feel pretty draining and make you want to quit all together. 

To cool down a 10,000 gallon pool (which is just one 25 meter lane) by 5 degrees requires 2,187.5 pounds of ice!

Health Risks of Training In Warm Water

Swimming in warm water can trigger nausea, vomiting and light-headedness. In extreme cases you can get a heart arrhythmia because the organ can’t pump efficiently. There is also a possibility of lung failure as your muscles are unable to function properly because your body is trying to cool itself down but can’t because the medium it’s submerged in is too hot. 

In endurance competitions, even competitive swimmers sweat profusely and risk dehydration, placing greater strain on the body and heart as it attempts to pump oxygen into the tissues. Another risk is an imbalance of electrolytes, the minerals that contain electric charges to help maintain blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes.

Here’s how to avoid these health risks and still enjoy a workout in HOT water:

1 – Add Rest

You need to give yourself more rest on intervals and more rest between sets. Aerobic swim workouts are much harder in warmer water as your heart rate rises faster because your body is working harder to cool your body. If you’re used to taking 30 seconds rest between sets, make it 50 seconds. If you’re used to doing 100s @ 1:30, instead give yourself another 10 seconds and do them on the 1:40.

It’s important to understand that you’re not cheating yourself out of a good workout. If anything you’re still going to work just as hard if not harder in warmer water even if you give yourself more rest. Keep that in mind when you structure your workouts and rest time.

Related: How To Personalize Your Intervals in the MySwimPro App

2 – Shorter Workout Distances

Similar to adding rest between sets and on intervals, it’s important to decrease the total swimming distance per rep. This is different than shortening the entire workout distance. Instead shorten the individual rep distance. For example, instead of doing 5 x 200s Freestyle, you could do 10 x 100s, or 20 x 50s, or a mix of 100s and 50s to still reach the same overall distance of 1,000 meters, but you took more frequent breaks along the way.

3 – Focus on Technique

If the pool you’re used to swimming at all of a sudden feels like a hot tub, that’s a sign it’s time to work on technique. Warm water is actually perfect for doing drills because you can focus on just your stroke technique and not worry about being too cold or shivering like you would doing drills in a cold pool. Drills are best when done in shorter distances with more rest. For example 4 x 25s drill is a perfect set in a hot pool.

Related: How To Swim Perfect Freestyle

4 – Stay Hydrated!

Keep your self hydrated before, during, and after the workout. You need to be well nourished leading up to any physical activity, but swimming in particular needs additional preparation because you’re in a pool with limited resources around you. Pack ahead and bring a water bottle or sports drink that will keep you hydrated for the duration of your activity. Even a workout that’s as short as 20-30 minutes requires hydration. Checkout more nutritional guidelines for swimmers here.

5 – Dryland

If you really don’t feel like swimming in a hot environment, mix up your workout with dryland training (try these workouts). You can incorporate strength training exercises with no equipment on the side of the pool within the workout structure. This will allow you to hop out of the water, perform an exercise and hop back in the water. The sets you do in the pool will be shorter with more rest which is perfect for warmer water. Here’s an example set:

  • 10 x Pushups
  • 2 x 25s Freestyle @ 1:00
  • 10 x Jump Squats
  • 2 x 25s Freestyle @ 1:00

It’s OK to cut your workouts short, and give yourself more rest. Doing drills, kicking, or even to taking a week off altogether is not a problem as well. Just know you have options!

What is The Perfect Pool Temperature?

For swimming in both standard competition and the Olympics, FINA mandates a water temperature of between 25 to 28 degrees Celsius, or between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. For water polo in both standard competition and the Olympics, FINA mandates 26 degrees C, or 79 degrees F, plus or minus one degree. For synchronized swimming in both standard competition and the Olympics, the FINA regulation temperature is 27 degrees C, or 81 degrees F, plus or minus one degree. Finally, for diving in both standard competition and the Olympics, the FINA regulation temperature is not less than 26 degrees C, or 79 degrees F

Most swimming pool water temperatures typically range from 78ºF to 82ºF. The American Red Cross recommends a temperature of 78ºF for competitive swimming. That’s a bit chilly unless you’re swimming laps with intensity. For young children and the elderly, it’s best that the water temperature be 80ºF or higher. The Red Cross recommends a pool temperature of at least 84°F (29°C) to conduct swim lessons for children. 

This is to keep their bodies comfortable in a new environment, to keep their muscles warm and loose, and to prevent any breathing difficulties that can arise from too-cold water. Pools designed specifically for leisure are somewhere between 86°F and 88°F (30°C and 31°C).

I hope this Whiteboard Wednesday was helpful in educating you about different pool temperatures! Have questions? Leave us a comment below! For more tips like this, follow our series on the MySwimPro YouTube Channel

If you’re looking for a training plan to get to the next level with structured workouts. Checkout the MySwimPro app and all the training plans that are available. Training plans range from 4 weeks to 12 weeks and most offer 2-4 workouts per week to keep you on track to achieving your goals. Check them out below:



  1. Hey Guys,
    Have you really swum in a pool that is too hot?
    I have the misfortune to swim in various pools that are too hot. They are so hot that I have to jump out to cool off, getting under a cold shower, or if the pool is without cold showers, get in front of a fan or draught.

    • Taylor Holmes on

      Swimming in cold water can certainly be beneficial! It’s important to ensure you have the right equipment and protocols in place to avoid hypothermia if the water is very cold!

  2. This is fantastic information! Thank you so much I had done 3 sets of 400 meters in a 87 deg F pool (5 min rest between) and had trouble getting my heart rate down. I also had trouble sleeping that night because my pulse was over 100 (it is usually 65). After that, I changed my sets to 300 m, 400 m, and 300 m. After 400 m, I took a 10 min break that included running my head and body under a cold shower. This was not enough! I will not do a 400 m set anymore in this very warm spa water. I might even reduce my sets to 250 m and do 4 sets. I thought I was developing AF, but I realize now that this is what the body does to compensate.

  3. Our masters (and age group) swim in a warm pool all the time. It’s always at 84 die to swim lessons. I have a really hard time. I try to drink lots of water and I put ice cubes in my cap. Afterwards take a cold shower. I still go home with a horrible headache… every. time. Any other tips for maybe before or afterwards to help ward off heat headaches? …Sometimes I eat sardines before I swim. I’ve tried pickle juice before/after. And I put an ice pack on my head a lot once I get home. 🤦🏻‍♀️🥵

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