We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Brrr…. that’s too cold.

Ah – no, now it’s too hot.

Who hasn’t experienced that?

Let’s face it. No matter how warm the water is, there is always someone who complains. Temperature perception differs from person to person.

You can’t please everyone anyway, but what is the optimal pool temperature?

SplashTech Pocket Reservoir Pool
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

There is no such thing as a perfect pool temperature

Infinitely we would love to tell you that 25.59124°C is the scientifically proven optimal pool temperature. Unfortunately, this perfect temperature does not exist.

In science and also among pool experts there are numerous different opinions. However, they all agree on one aspect: it depends on the circumstances.

The ideal pool temperature depends on many factors:

  • Pool size: whether we’re talking about a small backyard pool or an Olympic-sized pool makes a difference.
  • Bathers: The ideal temperature is different for children, adults, seniors or pregnant women.
    Indoor / Outdoor: whether the pool is indoors or outdoors is also important.
  • Amount of use: If there are many swimmers in the pool, this will affect the water temperature.
  • Type of use: depending on the type of use (pure splashing, relaxed bathing, swim training or competitions) the perfect water temperature differs.

There is no specific temperature specification that takes all of these influences into account.

Based on typical pool sizes and uses, we will give you temperature ranges and tips for fine-tuning the water temperature to match your exact preferences.

When is the pool too warm?

Sure, there are plenty of people who take really hot showers every morning or love to soak in hot springs. However, swimming in warm water is not necessarily good for the body.

The debate flared up especially at the 2012 London Olympics, when the temperature of the Olympic pool reached 32°C. World-class short-distance swimmers like Micheal Phelps quickly stifled the controversy, saying warmer water temperatures are ideal for speed swimming.

Water temperatures between 25 and 28°C are actually prescribed for Olympic competitions. The relatively warm water in the pool is good for the athletes’ bodies because it allows you to train at maximum endurance. Shocks to the muscles (like when jumping into cold water) that inhibit efficiency do not exist in warm water.

However, too high a water temperature can be very dangerous. When the water is too warm, the body has a harder time releasing heat, which can lead to muscle cramps. This can lead to injuries and really dangerous situations, because swimmers (especially in competitions) do not feel that you are overexerted.

In at least one case, this has already ended fatally. In 2010, 26-year-old U.S. national team swimmer Fran Crippen died, presumably because the water was too hot. On the day of the open-water race, the water was 30°C hot, at least 2 degrees Celsius too warm. During the same race, numerous other participants complained of disorientation and swollen limbs. Three of them also ended up in the hospital.

What does this mean for your pool? The strain on a professional swimmer’s body is, of course, much greater than when swimming comfortably in pool water. However, you are not prepared for temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius either. So even if you just got a new pool heater, you should take it easy if you swim in the pool a lot. If the air temperature is extremely high, you can add additional cooling to your pool.

When is the pool too cold?

Fans of ice bathing swear by their practice, which is said to burn fat. However, research is inconclusive about burning fat. It’s true that the lower temperature requires the body to work harder to maintain optimal body temperature.

In theory, this is true, but it’s not clear if these calories burned equate to fat cells burned.

Our tip: Don’t torture yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable in cold water, you don’t have to change your habits. The effect – if any – is small. A few more laps in warm water should have the same effect.

In addition, cold water can be life-threatening. People who bathe in ice-cold water always talk about a boost of energy. They perceive this feeling as good and consider bathing in cold water to be healthy. Professor Mike Tipton of the University of Portsmouth sees it differently. The shock of cold triggers a “fight or flight response” in the body that releases energy, he tells CNN.

The shock from the cold water can cause cardiac arrest in people with heart problems, and can cause an irregular heart rhythm in healthy people.

Even pool temperatures below 20°C cause blood vessels to become extremely constricted. When bathing in such cold water, the body quickly starts to shiver and breathing speeds up. These are reactions of the body to maintain body temperature.

What is the optimal swimming pool water temperature?

Friends of hot spring bathing don’t mind water temperatures of 40°C, and participants in ice bathing events bathe in water at temperatures around freezing or even below. We have already found that swimming pool water temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius are better for your health.

The temperature range is still very wide. With a few typical scenarios. For different uses of the pool, there are more specific recommendations in terms of water temperature.

The ideal temperature for recreational pools is 27°C.

From what we observe in public pools, we are not the only ones who always do the “toe test”. Many people find a warmer pool more comfortable for splashing around or relaxed swimming.

However, a certain limit should not be exceeded, because too high temperatures, can lead to dehydration, overheating and muscle cramps. With a pool thermometer you can always play it safe.

SplashTech Pocket Reservoir Pool
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The ideal pool temperature for training and fitness is 26°C.

Fitness and competition swimmers have different requirements when it comes to water temperature.

On one hand, in a competition, warm water is slightly better because it is less dense and therefore reduces friction during swimming. On the other hand, the intense work of the muscles generates more body heat, which is less easily dissipated in warm water.

For recreational swimmers, small differences in temperatures hardly matter. In the professional sector (and even already for aqua fitness), on the other hand, a few degrees Celsius can already make a considerable difference.

The ideal pool temperature for children is 29°C

The reason why the water in children’s pools is always warmed up more than in deep pools for adults is that children store less body heat due to their small size.

Many parents have already made the observation that children shiver faster or even their lips turn blue, even though the water does not seem to be too cold at all.

The ideal pool temperature for babies is 32°C

Babies’ bodies are not able to regulate their own body temperature on their own. For the smallest ones, in the first months of life, the water temperature must be correspondingly closer to the normal body temperature.

A cheat sheet

There is no fixed temperature for the pool. Depending on various factors, we recommend appropriate water temperatures.

In conclusion, we’ve put together a cheat sheet here that covers different ways to use your pool.

Type of useRecommended pool temperature
Training and fitness26°C

These recommended temperatures are all close to each other. Experiment with different water temperatures in this “sweet spot” of 25 to 28°C to find out which temperature suits you best.

We hope you enjoy your swim in advance!

Larry has been a true water rat since childhood. Pure pleasure turned into a passion. That's why he is the first point of contact for friends and acquaintances when it comes to pool-related problems. He is an integral part of the PoolHandbook editorial team.