On the pool deck, one can smell the chlorine in the air, and those who are not used to indoor pools can taste how thick the air is. Many students who come from states like California and Arizona are used to swimming in outdoor pools where ventilation is not a concern. Swimming in an indoor pool is a whole new experience.
With poor ventilation, chloramines fill the air, which can lead to mild cases of coughing or severe symptoms such as wheezing and aggravating asthma.
Chloramines are organic compounds containing a chlorine atom bonded to nitrogen. This adds to the irritants already in the air caused by chlorine, sweat and urine.
Whitworth is taking the necessary steps to improve the ventilation system in the aquatics center.
“In order to improve air quality we have reduced the chlorine level in the pool, set up box fans to blow air across the water, and are dumping some water to waste daily and pumping fresh water into the system,” Swim Coach Steven Schadt said. “Facilities has also cleaned and examined our HVAC system to make sure it is operating optimally.
The ventilation system inside is mainly run by large vent systems. Vents surround the pool deck blowing air upwards to the ceiling where it is taken in by larger vents lining the ceiling.
Although Whitworth is taking steps to improve the air quality some swimmers still have difficulty breathing correctly when on the pool deck and while swimming.
Freshman swimmer Melissa Callaghan is from California and said she is not use to swimming in indoor pools.
“It is a lot harder to breath,” Callaghan said. “The air is a lot thicker and it just hangs over the pool.”
Callaghan has been swimming for seven years without any asthma, but the switch from fresh air outdoor pools, to indoor pools has taken a toll on her.
“I had to go get an inhaler because I could not make it through a practice,” Callaghan said.
That is why Whitworth continues to work to improve the air quality.
“In the next few weeks we will be installing a UV light system in the back pump room,” Schadt said. “This will destroy chloramines, but keep chlorine, to improve air quality and continue to sanitize the pool.”
Freshman MacKenzie Wattenbarger was a competitive swimmer while in high school in Seattle and has been coming to the aquatics center for lap swim. She grew up swimming in indoor pools so she does not have any difficulty with breathing.
“I am used to the humid air in indoor pools and it is hard to believe that it can affect other swimmers who are not use to it,” Wattenbarger said.
Wattenbarger said she thinks it is great that Whitworth is doing what they can to improve the quality of the air to make it easier for everyone to breath.
“It is wonderful that they are trying to make every swimmer comfortable,” Wattenbarger said.
With the air quality in the aquatics center improving, all swimmers will be able to swim to their full potential.
By Haley Williamson
Photo By Megan Hinzdel