One of the first things I notice about a pool is its taste. Now, I don’t intentionally slurp pool water with a straw, but when I swim, water sometimes gets in my mouth as I breathe.
If you have ever been to Lake Tahoe, you probably know the lake water tastes amazing (Drink Tahoe Tap!). It’s essentially the same as regular water, which is surprising considering some of the things in the lake. Its chill factor is one key aspect. Perhaps it is the temperature of the water that gives it a better taste (in which case every pool should be 75 degrees, like Lake Tahoe in August).
I recently competed in a meet in Gresham, Oregon, that had an outdoor pool rivaling Lake Tahoe in taste and temperature. As soon as I jumped in, my skin felt tingly, and my mind felt as if it was forced awake.
Once I began swimming, I also noticed how good the water tasted, and I wasn’t the only one. A boy from my team was so astounded by how amazing the water was that he wouldn’t stop talking about it for the hour of warmup! I caught him guzzling pool water a few times on the wall.
Pools that are warmer generally draw more children, which means more sunscreen, bacteria and who knows what else. At the meet in Oregon, while the competition pool stayed fairly clean, the warmer indoor warmup pool became a murky cesspool of gunk. Keep in mind that when I arrived on Wednesday, I could see the other side of this 25-yard pool underwater. After four days, I could barely see my hand in front of my face. Disgusting, right? It seems to happen at most large meets. Swimmers are unable to take their tech-suits off and … stuff gets in the water. Nature calls!
The worst-tasting pools I’ve swum in are at Arden Hills (long course) and Vista del Lago High School. Regarding Arden Hills, I didn’t think it was possible for a pool to taste dry, but the combination of sunscreen and chlorine leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. The Vista del Lago pool, on the other hand, is simply salty, possibly more than the ocean. Combined with sunscreen, it leaves me gagging.
If a pool tastes bad, I can’t focus on anything else.
—By Rebecca Waterson