I have written about several areas in the aquatic industry, but this may be one of the most “ignored” issues in the business.

There is a phrase that I am betting that everyone reading this has said at least once in their life, most likely at a hotel or an indoor pool. It is the moment you walk into a facility/building and your nostrils flare up and you say Oh, they have a pool. Everyone recognizes that smell, that odor, its like a bon-fire or gasoline. Everyone knows that smell and yet no one realizes the risk or what that smell really means.                       

This blog isn’t about the chemistry behind the smell of chlorine or the even the operations of why it exists. This is not a blog about how to remove the smell of “chlorine” or if a pool should use salt or chlorine (note- salt pools don’t have that smell).  Nor is this a blog about how unhealthy it is to be in and around a pool that has that “pool smell”. This is about how we, the traveling and pool-using population, have become so accustomed to the smell, so much so that we almost are immune to it. When I say immune, I specifically mean that we don’t react or respond. We don’t ask the hotel or facility why it smells, or what that smell is. We know what smell is! It’s pool smell and we have been smelling it all entire lives. Also,  if you did ask an employee of the facility what we were smelling, the chances of getting an educated and trustworthy answer are not likely. So, we go about our vacation or swimming activity believing that this is the norm, because it has become the norm. This not so much a knock on the hotel industry (stereo typically the condo/apt and hospitality industry) as they are unguarded properties with traditionally minimal use, compared to other indoor pools. This is also not a knock on the management companies or even the aquatic industry. This is merely an observation of how 65% (and greater) of hotel users pick their hotels based on if they have a pool but that decision is NOT based on if that hotel does or does not SMELL like a pool!

A hotel focuses on service and quality experience and even safety. Ironically the aquatic/fitness/recreation industry focuses on the exact same experience yet this goes unaddressed more times than not! All of us can smell a bonfire a mile away and be brought back to child hood or family members of camping and equally we can smell a pool and remember a great hotel experience, whether we swam in that pool or not!  All of this to say, like anything else that we become accustomed to it is important to ask questions and get the responses we need. We are taught to look both ways to cross the street. We are taught not to talk to strangers, and many other life protecting skills! However, we are not taught how to make sure that when we smell something to say something!  Well, consider this lesson #1! Next time you’re in and around a pool that has that pool smell ask around get some answers! Are the what chemicals balanced? (HINT: They are not). Who is in charge of the pool that smells? and on and on….Even if you’re not swimming in that pool that smells, make sure it’s safe for others to get into the water!

From Wesley King, FMFA


Wesley King

Wesley King is the owner of Wesley King Consulting providing Aquatic-focused safety and sustainability services. Connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn or join our public Facebook community All things Aquatics - supporting pools and the staff/people who love them!.