Swimming Outdoors During The Cooler Months

So many people think of swimming as a seasonal event and move their exercise indoors during the winter. The fact is, in Houston, we rarely see true winter conditions and mostly experience cooler months.  
The Houstonian pools are open and available for swimming year-round. We strive to keep the pools in exercise/activity appropriate temperature ranges so our Members are comfortable in the water 365 days a year. Year-round swimmers confess the hardest part of swimming during the cooler months is not the pool’s water temperature, nor is it getting out of the pool to go inside. The biggest challenge is getting into the pool.  
You will experience a big chill when you get out of your warm clothes because of the air temperature, wind and humidity. These conditions constantly change, so one day may feel great, and the very next day, the same temperature may feel bone-chilling. Getting into the pool should only take less than a minute, so the discomfort is gone quickly.
Pool temperatures are usually set to align with the most prevalent purpose of a pool. Pools used for strenuous exercise usually have a goal temperature range of 78-82º F while pools used for recreation are maintained at 83-85º F and pools used for therapy and stretching are kept around 88-90º F. 
The Houstonian offers three pools, each with a different temperature range. There is a pool to accommodate most everyone’s needs. Our Sports Pool is kept at 80-81o, the Resort Pool at 83-85° and the Garden Pool is 89-91º.  
Even though a pool’s temperature is kept consistent, it may feel different to someone when they enter the water. That is not just because of the air temperature, wind and humidity, it is also effected by someone’s metabolism and their own body temperature. When you get into a pool to exercise, the water should feel cold while your body adapts. A pool meant for strenuous exercise should not feel warm or even "just right,” it should feel chilly. We suggest swimming 8-10 lengths of the pool before deciding if the pool’s temperature is really too cold for you. On the other hand, a pool meant for therapy should feel very warm when you get in – almost uncomfortably warm. In a warm pool, it is best to exercise and or stretch for ten minutes before deciding whether you like the water’s temperature or not.
After completing your swim, you might think that exiting the pool to get to your towel and clothes will be terribly chilling.  This is usually not the case because you just exercised and you will have a vapor surrounding your body that holds your body heat. If there is wind, however, that vapor is blown away and a chill will quickly set in.
Another thing to think about is to always have some sort of flip flops, slides or pool shoes on to keep something between your feet and the ground, especially cement. The ground is very cold and will pull heat from the bottom of your feet this can make everything seem colder than it really is.

While you swim, the top of your head is exposed to the wind and you may lose body heat, so wearing a latex or silicone swim cap helps retain body heat. Swim caps are available at The Shop at The Houstonian.
One of the best investments swimmers have found is a swim parka. Swim parkas have a moisture wicking lining that quickly reflects someone’s body heat. There is no need to layer lots of clothes underneath it – just wear your swimsuit under it. It is recommended that the coat be turned inside-out after each use to allow the moisture in the lining to evaporate. The Shop at The Houstonian can special order parkas for adults and kids.
The Houstonian has placed a chair and side table at the end of each lane for convenience and quick access to someone’s towels, parkas and shoes.
Our message is to keep on swimming during the cooler months. The only thing stopping you is you!
By Erica Meyer
For more information on our pools, winter swim programs and winter swim lessons, please contact Erica Meyer, Aquatics Director at emeyer@houstonian.com or 713.685.6709. For the winter, reservations for lap lanes are required and reservations for the Resort Pool and the all adult Garden Pool are required on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with the exception of holiday weeks when reservations are required all week. To make a reservation, please click here.