PLU pool problems: enter at your own risk

By Rachel Althauser ’15

As I squint to see through the fog and listen to the rash of coughing coming from my swim colleagues, I begin to wonder if I am swimming at the PLU pool or in a sauna with tuberculosis patients?

During the past three months the conditions at the PLU pool have begun to deteriorate.  This summer workmen were hard at work fixing the collapsed roof. However amongst their work they removed and neglected to replace a very important item. The HVAC system, an HVAC system is what filters the air and controls heating and cooling.

With out the air filtration the amount of condensation in the pool greatly increase. Seeing that we just had the roof replaced because it started to cave in, I would imagine more collapsing structures would not be well received.

As a student athlete who spend an upmost of 20 hours a week working out in the pool I would greatly appreciate an HVAC system. At any given practice around a third of the team has experienced the effects of breathing bad air such as coughing and shortness of breath. Coughing creates a constant chorus through out the pool.


PLU Facilities Management put in a plywood to support the new heater. Photo by: Rachel Althauser

The facilities management recently put in a heater, complete with a shady plywood wall. While it increased the pool decks temperature by about 10 degrees it did nothing but make the air quality worst. And has created a new mold problem.

Many studies have been done regarding the effects of swimming in an indoor pool. One study done by the American College of Sports Medicine found that 60 percent of competitive swimmers swimming in pools with normal chlorine levels experience exercise-induced asthma after several minutes of exposure.

 Exercise-induced asthma is when the airways constrict causing shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Swimming in a well kept pool presents this problem, imagine what swimming in a pool with a mold problem and no air-filtration system would do.

Without the HVAC system at the pool the health of the swim team, the swim team coaches, the patrons that visit the pool, employees, and anyone who spends more than an hour on the deck, is put into jeopardy. Not only is the lacking HVAC system threatening the health of patrons it is also driving the cost of running the pool through the roof.

With out the heating qualities of the HVAC system the pool deck, until recently, has been around 58-60 degrees. Now that they have installed a heater the air on deck is around 70 degrees. A nice increase, however this is only causing more problems. Now the humidity is at an all time high and taking a breath feels like breathing smoke. Before the heater was installed the pool required more energy to keep the pool water above ice berg temperature. With a pool that size it is not cheap to keep it heated.

As a swim team member and employee at the PLU pool this problem is something I know well. I have to breath in the air each and everyday. It concerns me that I am being exposed to so many health hazards due to no HVAC system.

I would like to see the conditions at the pool improve drastically not only for me but for the many students, faculty and members of the community that use it as well. Temporary fixes will not work any longer it is time to fix the problem once and for all.

With Christmas break fast approaching it is the perfect time to install a HVAC system. Not only will it help protect the health of the swimmers and patrons it will also bring costs down.

Let’s get an HVAC system and stop the constant coughing.

Categories: Other

2 replies

  1. You explained the problem really well, and your voice really came through. I’m kind of disturbed by this story, they need to fix it!

  2. Seeing as I have a class there, I found this article very interesting. It’s good to know.

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