HAMMOCK: Team finds way to cool the pool in summer heat

Before modern plumbing, bath water was warmed by sitting it out in the sun, and the sweltering Georgia heat still has that effect on bodies of water, chlorinated or not.

Swimming pools around the county are cool enough to provide relief from sunshine, though not as much as we'd like given the current weather pattern. Pool temperatures in the mid to upper 80s or higher can make dips feel like stepping into, well, bath water.

Those conditions feel great to recreational swimmers, but they're not conducive to fast summer league swimming. Competitive swimmers prefer cooler water, typically in the 78- to 82-degree range, in pursuit of faster times. Achieving those ideal temperatures in a Georgia outdoor pool, in June and July, is nearly impossible.

One Gwinnett Swim League team, Chateau Elan, found a way to chill things out in its last regular season meet on Tuesday. The club's swimmers and parents brought in bags of ice prior to a matchup with Morning View, setting up their "Lowering the temp so swimmers can raise the bar" theme night.

Swimmers and volunteers then added the frozen clusters, which melted away like they were sitting in warm iced tea, in a unified attempt to take the pool temperature down a few notches.

So did it work?

"I can't say the kids just swam out of their minds and that we'll start doing this every meet," said Chateau Elan coach Rick Creed, also the head coach at Mill Creek High School. "But with all the heat we've had in June, it's been miserable. The water was really hot and very uncomfortable. So it made the practice and the meet much more enjoyable for the kids."

Nearly 100 bags of ice were added to the pool at the Tuesday morning practice session, which eventually dropped three to four degrees of temperature off pool water that had hovered in the mid-80s for the past month.

Some swimmers posted performances that rank among the county's best this season, like Chateau Elan's Hank Rimbert, Emily Donnelly, Christopher Powell, Nicholas Kalenik and Corinne Dalley, and Morning View's Jay Cathcart. Maybe they were assisted physically or mentally by the icing of the pool. Maybe it didn't help much at all, the improved times simply would have happened no matter the temperature.

Either way, the ice routine was a pretty unique gimmick to beat the bath-water heat.

"The kids swam really well and they had a wonderful attitude about the whole thing," Creed said. "The parents really got behind it. I was amazed at how much ice the kids and parents brought. I think it was a lot of fun for them."

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.