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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73-74

Urination in the pools: A common practice of swimmers

Office of Physical Education, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh

Date of Submission30-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance05-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication02-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
Muhammad Shahidul Islam
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet
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DOI: 10.4103/sjsm.sjsm_12_21

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How to cite this article:
Islam MS. Urination in the pools: A common practice of swimmers. Saudi J Sports Med 2021;21:73-4

How to cite this URL:
Islam MS. Urination in the pools: A common practice of swimmers. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 22];21:73-4. Available from: https://www.sjosm.org/text.asp?2021/21/2/73/327482

Dear Editor,

Swimming is a water-based workout that decreases joint pain, strengthens muscles, and promotes weight loss.[1] Millions of people swim in pools around the world every day, and this exercise provides tremendous physical activity (whole-body movement) along with maintaining the body healthy. In recent years, athletes in competitive swimming spend more time and effort to enhance their performance.[2] As swimmers dislike being disrupted during training, they do not want to interrupt their workouts by peeing in the middle of it. However, according to Carly Geehr, a former member of the USA Swimming National Team, nearly all elite professional swimmers pee in the pool.[3] As said in the previous study, about one in every five American adults admitted to peeing in the pool. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps of the United States acknowledged in 2012 that peeing in the pool is a common practice.[4] On the other hand, children are serial offenders for peeing in the pools.[5] It is sometimes more common than professional swimmers. Devlin stated that swimmers released 75 L of urine that is enough to fill a medium-sized dustbin into a large pool (about 830,000 L, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 L into a smaller pool after monitoring the amounts of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over 3 weeks (roughly half the size of the first).[6]

Because of this poor behavior, researchers advise that all swimmers stop urinating in pools to avoid the formation of chemicals. The research discovered that uric acid, a chemical contained in urine and sweat, reacts with chlorine to create two substances: cyanogen chloride and trichloramine that swimmers inhale during the workout.[7] Although chlorine is widely believed to be the cause of the odor, it is a volatile compound produced by unintended reactions between disinfectants (such as chlorine) and organic matter in the water.[7],[8],[9] The organic matter that contributes to the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) is found in body fluids such as sweat and urine (DBPs). Swimmers carry the majority of the precursors of such by-products into the pool.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13] This results in red and itchy eyes, a problem for swimmers in pools. According to the health scientists and aquatic safety experts, it's the pee, not the chlorine, which causes swimmers' eyes to become red and itchy.[14] For this reason, peeing in the pool is a bad habit that causes swimmers to engage in harmful health-related issues.

For all of these reasons, and based on scientific evidence, it is no surprise that swimmers urinate in the pool regularly and intentionally. To stop these awful behaviors, the present investigator has suggested a few concerns that could help to minimize urination in the pool. These are:

  • Install underwater cameras that can be used to track down the suspect swimmers
  • Before entering the pool, each swimmer should shower and empty their urine into the toilet
  • A social awareness program can help reduce pool urination
  • Frequent discussions with swimmers about this issue can help reduce pool peeing
  • Elite swimmers have been known to swim for more than an hour at a time. Coaches can make sure that there are breaks for urinating in the toilets
  • Place a banner, festoon, or plaque in the pool requesting that swimmers stop from peeing
  • Children can be motivated to abandon this practice by offering chocolates in the condition they have to urinate outside the pool. Later, this would be a habit when they become elite swimmers.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Lee BA, Oh DJ. Effect of regular swimming exercise on the physical composition, strength, and blood lipid of middle-aged women. J Exerc Rehabil 2015;11:266-71.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mejias J, Bragada J, Costa M, Reis V, Garrido N, Barbosa TM. “Young” masters vs. elite swimmers: Comparison of performance, energetics, kinematics and efficiency. Int Sport Med J 2014;15:165-77.  Back to cited text no. 2
Carlson N. Nearly 100% of Olympic Swimmers Pee in the Pool. Business Insider; 2012. Available from: https://www.businessinsider.com/nearly-100-of-olympic-swimmers-pee-in-the-pool-2012-7. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 3
Taylor Hayes K. Science Confirms People Pee in the Pool and it Can Be More Than Just Gross. FOX29 Philadelphia. FOX29 News Philadelphia; 2019. Available from: https://www.fox29.com/news/science-confirms-people-pee-in-the-pool-and-it-can-be-more-than-just-gross. [Last accessed on 2021Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 4
Patterson R. Pee in Swimming Pools: 7 Things You Didn't Want To Know (Jan 2019); 2018. Available from: https://poolonomics.com/pee-in-swimming-pools/. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 09].  Back to cited text no. 5
Devlin H. How Much Pee is in Our Swimming Pools? New Urine Test Reveals the Truth. The Guardian; 2017. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/01/how-much-pee-is-in-our-swimming-pools-new-urine-test-reveals-the-truth. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 6
Bernard A, Nickmilder M, Voisin C, Sardella A. Impact of chlorinated swimming pool attendance on the respiratory health of adolescents. Pediatrics 2009;124:1110-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Li J, Blatchley ER 3rd. Volatile disinfection byproduct formation resulting from chlorination of organic-nitrogen precursors in swimming pools. Environ Sci Technol 2007;41:6732-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
Schmalz C, Frimmel FH, Zwiener C. Trichloramine in swimming pools--Formation and mass transfer. Water Res 2011;45:2681-90.  Back to cited text no. 9
Zheng Q, Jmaiff Blackstock LK, Deng W, Wang H, Le XC, Li XF. Keep swimming but stop peeing in the pools. J Environ Sci (China) 2017;53:322-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
Arnaud CH. The Chemical Reactions Taking Place in Your Swimming Pool. Chemical and Engineering News; 2016. Available from: https://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i31/chemical-reactions-taking-place-swimming.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 11
Tang Y, Xu Y, Li F, Jmaiff L, Hrudey SE, Li XF. Nontargeted identification of peptides and disinfection byproducts in water. J Environ Sci (China) 2016;42:259-66.  Back to cited text no. 12
Richardson SD, Plewa MJ, Wagner ED, Schoeny R, Demarini DM. Occurrence, genotoxicity, and carcinogenicity of regulated and emerging disinfection by-products in drinking water: A review and roadmap for research. Mutat Res 2007;636:178-242.  Back to cited text no. 13
Blakemore E. Urine (Not Chlorine) Causes Red Eyes in Pools. Smithsonian Magazine; 2015. Available from: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/urine-not-chlorine-causes-red-eyes-pools-180955712/. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 09].  Back to cited text no. 14


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