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Coaching / Health and Nutrition

Beat the Heat

Suggestions for surviving hot pools and the sun

Bob Jennings | July 15, 2014

There have been numerous articles on the dangers of dehydration and overheating while swimming in the summer months, especially in pools that lack cooling systems. As coaches, we stress hydrating before, during, and after practice; using longer intervals and rest between sets; doing more stroke work drills; and encouraging the use of water-permeable caps to help beat the heat.

Swimmers on our team already knew to bring something to drink to practice. Looking for other ways to solve the problem of potentially overheating during a workout, I implemented ideas from my swimming and nonswimming background in coaching youth soccer and long-distance running.

A simple way to beat the heat is to erect tents at the end of the pool. This shaded area offers some needed sun relief for swimmers and coaches alike. And, in a recent session with water temperatures in the mid- to high-80s, I brought water bottles filled with ice and water. I also brought small coolers filled with ice, water, and small towels, as well as additional containers holding ice, which we placed at the end of the lanes.

During a set of 50s and 100s, I instructed the swimmers to pour cold water from their water bottle on their heads or wring a cold towel from the cooler over their faces and heads. They did this after each 50 or 100; every body is different so not everyone chose to be involved in the experiment.

At the end of practice the feedback was very positive. Most of the swimmers felt these cooling techniques helped beat the heat and many said they were going to continue to use them. Give them a try and see if this helps you get through your practices when the water or air temperature is on the hot side.

And for coaches working in the hot sun, you can always try these ideas to keep yourself cool, too. 

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Bob Jennings

Bob Jennings has been coaching high school swimming for 35 years and coached summer league for 25 years. He was sports director for swimming and diving for Montgomery County Public High Schools for 15 years. He serves on the USMS Coaches Committee and swims for the Florida Aquatic Combined Team.

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