I Swim Like A Girl… Try And Keep Up!

I Swim Like A Girl Logo

Girls have it tough and society is to blame.  Just watch the above advert for Always and the difference in attitudes from a girl under the age of puberty to those of both sexes who have gone through puberty is startling.  Young children hold the belief that they can achieve anything and be anyone that they want to be, your gender doesn’t 

matter.  That’s the way it should stay.  As you get older, people are under more and more pressure to confirm to society’s stereotypes.  Boys have to be tough, manly and provide for their families.  Girls are pressurised into worrying about what they look like, expected to act feminine and are generally perceived as the weaker sex.  This makes my daughter and me angry.  Luckily for India, I’ve learnt from the mistakes of my relatives and she has been brought up in a fairly gender neutral home, but she does get upset when people talk about being a girl in a stereotypical way. 

The number of women participating in swimming is falling because they feel uncomfortable with their bodies.  Swimming costumes, bikinis in particular, do not help as they are perceived by the media as a way of enhancing your sexuality and really don’t leave anything to the imagination.  On the other hand, in sport, you are supposed to get your hair messed up, get hot and sweaty and generally not look your best.  So no wonder the number of female swimmers is falling.  A frequent question asked by ladies who want to learn is about the swimming pool being a private one rather than one used by the public, as they are uncomfortable in their bodies.  One of the answers to this problem is to purchase a swimming costume with longer legs.  However, if you are over a size twelve, choice starts to become limited and can take ages to find a costume to fit perfectly and then you have to pay a large amount and shopping becomes a chore and not a pleasure.  Another problem is that swimming costumes are designed to be tight by nature, if the size of costume is smaller than expected, this can also dent a woman’s confidence and put her off the idea of swimming.

Even confident swimmers can have a crisis of confidence.  Any sport will make you muscular and female athletes (unless you are a gymnast) will not be particularly dainty.  I swam club from the ages of nine to fourteen and because of this, I have broad shoulders and it means that I can’t wear anything fitted on the top half of my body.  It doesn’t particularly bother me, as I prefer jeans and t-shirts anyway, but other women and girls would not be so accepting of these sport induced changes, especially with media commentators adding fuel to the fire.  Take Frankie Boyle, the so-called comedian, for instance, he had the audacity to criticise Rebecca Adlington say that she "looks like someone who's looking at themselves in 

the back of a spoon".  Now because of these callous comments, Rebecca has undergone a nose job.  Would she have been so open to criticism if she had been a man and also if she weren’t so high profile, would she have been considered fair game?  These comments might have been made in jest, but they filter down into society and form opinions on how women and girls should look like, it’s a vicious circle.  Splash 'n' Swim have introduced a brilliant t-shirt to the online shop that says “So what if I swim like a girl… try and keep up”,that’s how it should be, turning a negative comment into a positive one and telling the world that girls are just as good and even better in some situations.

To Chlorinate Or Not To Chlorinate? Part 2

In the last blog, we started to explore the use of chlorine and the alternatives for sanitising in the swimming pool.  We continue looking at the alternatives in this blog covering silver and copper, hydrogen peroxide, iodine and bromine.

Silver and Copper:

Who would have thought that silver and copper had cleaning properties?  Just think of the plasters that you can buy that contain silver as a bacterial killer and silver was used extensively by the medical profession before the introduction of antibiotics.  Copper is seen to be one of the best 

Silver Bars

algaecide killers known to mankind.  NASA scientists designed an ionisation system for the Apollo flights, using copper silver electrodes to purify the water.  The same technique is used to kill bacteria and algae found in swimming pools.

A safe controllable low voltage DC current is transmitted from the control unit to special anodes fitted in the water chamber where electrolysis takes place, causing solutions of copper, silver and other minerals to form in the water.  The name “Ionic Purifiers” comes from the fact that these minerals are called ions (atoms), which are positively charged (+) and are created in billions each second.  All fungi spores, viruses, algae and bacteria are negatively charged (-), so therefore, the ions are attracted to the cells of the contaminants.  The copper ion damages the cell wall of the contaminants, allowing the silver ion to then penetrate and destroy the cell.

Copper Ore

Treating a swimming pool with copper and silver, means that even though a small amount of chlorine has to be added to burn off body fats, hair and other organic matter (as ions are not oxidising agents like chlorine), the swimming pool water will be far kinder to the swimmer as copper and silver ions are pH neutral and non-corrosive and purify the water naturally.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

Hydrogen peroxide when combined with ultraviolet light is a powerful oxidiser that can be

used to disinfect swimming pools.  You are probably more familiar with hydrogen peroxide being used at the hairdressers for bleaching hair or for disinfecting a graze when you hurt yourself.  The mix of hydrogen peroxide and UV allows pools owners to eliminate all use of chlorine from the swimming pool.  This method of sanitising is commonly used in hydrotherapy pools and spas and with swimmers who are allergic to common pool chemicals such as chlorine. Hydrogen peroxide is actually 30 % more powerful than chlorine when it comes to oxidising.  However, in terms of disinfecting, hydrogen peroxide is less powerful than chlorine.  So how does a swimming pool get round the use of chlorine?  When using hydrogen peroxide, ultraviolet light is used as the primary disinfectant.  A swimming pool using hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant will require a high dosage.  The typical concentration of hydrogen peroxide is 30 to 40 parts per million (ppm), however, this can vary depending on the bather load.  High use spas or swimming pools may require a dosage of up to 100 ppm. Hydrogen peroxide can be treated similar to that of chlorine, in terms of it can be used to shock a swimming pool to improve water quality and a stabiliser can be added to the hydrogen peroxide to delay decomposition.  Even though it is possible to use hydrogen peroxide in these ways, it is still recommended to monitor the quality of the water daily and to dose the water constantly as hydrogen peroxide reacts very fast and disintegrates into hydrogen and water, increasing the amount of oxygen in the water.

So the use of hydrogen peroxide and UV seems to be an ideal way of treating a swimming pool.  However, the biggest (possible) disadvantage is that the water will require a relatively high dosage and the short life of hydrogen peroxide.  Hydrogen peroxide is also not compatible with diatomaceous earth (DE) filters, which represents about one quarter of the residential swimming pool market, as it will dissolve the DE.  Hydrogen peroxide is high maintenance too, as the levels must be carefully monitored adjusted, as levels greater than 100 ppm are dangerous and can be harmful to the eyes.

Iodine:

Iodine was first discovered as a suitable disinfectant for water treatment during World War I.  Studies at Harvard University after the war led to the development of globaline (iodine based tablets) by the U.S. military for disinfection of the water in canteens for use in the field.

So what exactly is iodine?  Elemental iodine (I) belongs to the halogen group on the periodic table next to bromine (Br) and chlorine (Cl).  Iodine is the only halogen that is a solid at room temperature and has the heaviest atomic weight of the halogens.  Compared to chlorine and bromine, iodine is less soluble in water and reacts at a slower pace with organic compounds.  The iodine comes in the form of potassium iodide salt (KI) and unlike chlorine residual that is used up during disinfection, iodine residual can be regenerated.  It is estimated that iodine atoms can be reused ten to thirteen times each and since iodine residual is also more stable than chlorine, the addition of iodine into the swimming pool for disinfection is significantly less.

A major benefit of an iodine treated swimming pool is that there are no harmful disinfection byproducts such as chloramines and THMs, which occur when using chlorine.  Iodine does not react with organics such as ammonia and urea, which are introduced into the swimming pool by bathers, and therefore is a more stable residual in pools even with a heavy bather load.  The downside of iodine not burning off the organics is that more organics are introduced into the swimming pool and compounds are not treated and accumulate.  Shocking the swimming pool with super chlorination, depending on the bather load, from time to time will burn up the organics occurring in the pool.  Iodine is ineffective against algae formation, which feed on the ammonia compounds, introduced by the swimmers.  A supplementary algaecide can be combined with the iodine to combat the issue, however, pools treated with algaecides can cause complaints of skin irritation and eye redness.  If algaecides are not used, shocking the pool with super chlorination will be required.

Bromine:

Bromine, as a disinfectant for indoor swimming pools, is actually kinder to the swimmer than chlorine.  Bromamines, a major by-product of bromine in swimming pools, are odourless and do not irritate the skin like chloramines do.  Bromamines are also easier to handle than their counterpart, chloramines, especially in commercial pools with large bather loads.  As mentioned before, chloramines are a problem in the water and build up over time and the way to get rid of them is to shock the pool by super chlorination.  Once chlorine has combined with another molecule and has become a chloramine, it looses its potency as a sanitiser, whilst bromamines retain their sanitising efficiency.  Bromamines do not gas off like chloramines and remain in a liquid state within the volume of

Liquid Bromine

pool water, so are much less likely to become airborne.  Bromamines do not attack the swimming pool and building itself, like chloramines do and thus, reducing maintenance costs due to corrosion.

Even though bromine has distinct advantages over chlorine in an indoor pool, chlorine is cheaper to buy and the technology behind it is more advanced.  So unfortunately, there is also an educational barrier when it comes to using bromine as a swimming pool sanitiser, as the majority of pool managers and pool caretakers are trained in chlorine use rather than alternatives.  The negatives for using bromine increase when you factor in an outdoor pool, as bromine is highly susceptible to degradation by UV from the sun.  Unlike chlorine, which can be made stable, bromine cannot be made stable, so would have to be topped up frequently.  It is possible to put bromine into tablet form like chlorine, but it’s much slower to dissolve and you need to have special equipment to apply bromine in swimming pools, which means initial expense.  When it comes to bather waste, bromine is less of a powerful oxidiser than chlorine.  Which ultimately, means the swimming pool has to be shocked with either monopersulfate (non chlorine shock treatment) or chlorine to eliminate the waste build-up.

All in all, every swimming pool is different and the needs will be different.  What might be right for one isn’t necessarily right for another.  Hopefully, even if you haven’t got the option of changing the type of swimming pool that you swim in, the way that chlorine and its alternatives function along with their pros and cons are clearer.