No one likes a party pooper … especially at the pool.

Summer has arrived, which means it’s time to head to the swimming pool! For moms, it also means it’s time to remind children to not go potty in the pool … even a little.

The Stinky Truth About Swimmer Hygiene

A survey conducted on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Swimming Pool Foundation® found that 1 in 4 swimmers would go in the pool within one hour of having diarrhea. In addition, half seldom or never shower before swimming in a pool, while 3 in 5 admit to swallowing pool water while swimming. Unfortunately, these actions contribute to the spread of Cryptosporidium (or “Crypto”).

What is Crypto?

Crypto is a parasite that can spread when someone swallows water contaminated with poop from an infected swimmer. Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds.

In addition to diarrhea, Crypto may cause:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Fever

Be a Swimming Pool Superhero

Crypto is not easily killed by chlorine and can live up to 10 days even in well-treated pools. Swimmers can do their part to help prevent the spread of Crypto by exercising good swimming pool hygiene.

Parents of young swimmers can take a few simple steps to help prevent Crypto outbreaks at the pool:

  • Keep your child out of the pool if they have diarrhea and for two weeks after diarrhea has ended. Crypto can spread when someone who has had diarrhea within the last two weeks goes swimming.
  • Teach your child to shower with soap and water before going for a swim, paying special attention to their “bottoms.” Just one minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on the child’s body.
  • Take young children on frequent bathroom breaks (every hour). When they’re done using the bathroom, make sure they wash their hands with soap for the whole time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Check diapers frequently (every 30-60 minutes) and change them in designated facilities, NOT poolside. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
  • Teach your child to not drink or swallow pool water.
  • Report any fecal incidents that occur in the pool to aquatics staff immediately.

“Showering before swimming, refraining from peeing in the pool, and not swimming for two weeks after experiencing diarrhea can help keep swimming fun and healthy for everyone.”

– Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality and Health Council

The Water Quality and Health Council is offering free pool test kits this summer through its Healthy Pools campaign. You can test your backyard or community pool to ensure that it has an appropriate pH and chlorine level. To order a free test kit, visit