Swimming pools v wild swimming – a germs expert on which is worse

Wild swimming has grown massively in popularity in recent times. Not only is swimming outdoors a pleasant way to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and green leafy surroundings, it can also help to relieve stress and elevate our endorphins. This creates a sense of wellbeing as well as burning calories and exercising muscles.

But along with the joys of outdoor swimming come some dangers. Not only are wild swimmers more at risk from tides, currents and swells, there can also be nasty bugs and bacteria lurking in the water. And with untreated sewage regularly flowing into seas, rivers and lakes across the country, it can be hard to find a safe spot for a paddle.

Of course, swimming in a pool comes with its own set of risks. Urinary tract infections, ear infections and tummy bugs are the most common illnesses caught here. Dirty pools can also cause your eyes to sting and harbour all sorts of bacteria and germs – including urine, faeces and sweat. In many ways, swimming pools are like a big bath filled with lots of strangers.

But while it’s clear that swimming in outdoor waters carries different risks from swimming in a pool, the question of where’s safest to swim may not seem immediately obvious. So where’s cleanest for a dip: swimming pools, or rivers, lakes, canals and the sea?

  • Original Article: The Conversation
  • Date: February 2023