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Swimming in Winter

Learn to swim Muscat Oman BritSwim swimming lessons

We get asked this a lot - is it OK to swim during winter? Isn't it too cold? Wouldn't doctors advise against it? What are the health risks, if any? And what can we do to minimise them?

For our part, BritSwim makes sure the pools we hold lessons in are safe and comfortable. We regularly carry out independent checks on the chemical levels and temperature of each BritSwim pool - and if we find that the pool is not up to standards that day, we will not hold classes. The health and comfort of our students is our priority.

And for an expert opinion on kids' health, we've asked Dr Ola Adeponle, of the fantastic MediDent Clinic (and mother of lovely long-time BritSwim student Morayo), to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about swimming during the colder season. Here's what she had to say:

Should my child be in the pool while sick?

If your child has simple cold, that is if symptoms are only in the throat and head, moderate physical activity such as swimming is fine. But if your child has a cold which is accompanied by fever, muscle aches, tiredness and so on, then it is best they stay out of the swimming pool till they feel better.

If your child has a diarrheal illness, they should not be in the swimming pool, as people with diarrhea who swim can contaminate water with millions of germs. Most germs are killed within minutes by common pool disinfectants like chlorine, but this is less effective with diarrheal germs. This contamination can make other swimmers sick if they swallow a mouthful of contaminated pool water. It is also important to educate your children not to swallow pool water.

Do swimming pools get people sick in winter? 

Germs make people sick, not the cold weather itself, however prolonged exposure to cold can make you sick. Also common cold or even flu tends to occur more in colder weather, so if your child is sick it is better you keep them away from the swimming pools to avoid spreading the germs that cause these infections.  The air temperature during the winter months is lower so even though the pools are heated, when you come out of the pool you may feel very cold.

What are the measures to prevent cold if my child swims in winter?

You can take the following measures to prevent prolonged exposure to cold during the winter months:

1. Cover up with a warm towel as soon as you come out of the pool to allow your body warm up
2. Change out of wet swimming clothes immediately
3. Take a warm shower
4. Dry your hair thoroughly with a towel or hair dryer if available, or better still use a water proof swimming cap to prevent your hair from getting wet.
5. Dress up in warm, dry clothes

Should we swim when it’s cloudy or windy?

Yes, you can swim as long as you take measures to prevent prolonged exposure to cold as soon as you come out of the swimming pool.

Is swimming in winter dangerous to health?

The coldest temperature in winter month is about 19 degrees in the morning, the afternoons are still a bit warm, so you can still swim in the winter in heated pools or warm pools. Remember, swimming is a moderate physical activity which has health benefits, no matter the age. If you swim, you must protect yourself from prolonged exposure to cold.

So to summarise: swim in heated pools, and get yourself warm and dry as soon as you climb out. Don't swim when you're feeling too poorly. Otherwise, you can keep on swimming throughout the winter months - especially here in sunny Oman!
Muscat, Oman