Friday, October 05, 2007

Swim Team Works on Chemistry

Have you smelled chlorine in your classes lately? It is probably emanating from the swimmer sitting in front of you. The swim season officially started with the team hopping in the pool on September 17. That chlorine smell will be the official perfume of the swimmers for the next six months (the longest of the sports seasons). But is the concentration of chlorine in the athletes' skin actually harmful to them?

With the recent breakout of cryptosporidium bacteria in local swimming pools, the amount of chlorine in pools has been increased and children under the age of five have been banned from most public pools. Granite High School pool, however, hosts only the Judge swim team-none of whom are under five or carrying the harmful crypto; therefore the concentration of chlorine should be less than that of public pools in the area. Following the direction of the State Board of Health, the chlorine level has been raised from the usual 1.5% to 5% in order to kill the crypto. This level, though somewhat uncomfortable, is safe.

Recently, the members of the swim team have noticed some unusual symptoms due to the chlorine. While the swimmers are used to and even pride themselves on ailments such as dry skin, bleached hair and that chlorine smell that seems to follow them everywhere, they were not expecting to experience the loss of arm hair, reduction of eyebrows and minor chemical burns and rashes. The health department was called in to test the level of chlorine. To no surprise, the level was too high: about 7-10% which is approaching the danger zone. Sodium was added to dilute the chlorine and it is now down to a comfortable level. Despite this discomfort, the swimmers are still working hard towards getting in shape for the season. The first meet is on October 25 in Kearns.

- by Maria Schwarz

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