Factors of a Fast Competition Pool

June 27, 2016 | Categories: Blog

It may sound like a strange topic to those of us who like to enjoy our pool time on a floaty, but there are “fast” and “slow” pools in the world of competitive swimming. If you ask any swimmer you know, they will come up with multiple reasons for swimming faster or slower than usual… some being very creative.

Let’s stick to the more conventional reasons for now:


This is the big one when it comes to speed. In short, this refers to the waves that are bouncing around the pool. Would you rather swim competitively in a calm lake or rocky ocean waters? Now you get it.

There are two types of turbulence:

Direct – refers to the waves that bounce swimmer to swimmer
Reflected – refers to the waves that bounce off the side and end walls

A few ways to eliminate turbulence:

  • High-quality lane ropes
  • Natare pool gutters
  • Natare bulkheads

Pool Depth

Pool depth and turbulence pretty much go hand-in-hand when it comes to speed. As a swimmer moves through the water, they produce waves in almost every direction, which makes the pool more “turbulent” or “wavy”. In a shallow pool, these waves will reflect off the pool floor and hit the swimmer, which can substantially slow them down.

A couple ways to fix the problem:

Increase pool depth – the further the waves have to travel, the weaker they become
Make the pool bottom a gentle slope – this minimizes swimmers being hit directly with the waves

Water Circulation

Time to stir things up a bit. (See what I did there?)

You know those cool jet things you love so much? Well, they aren’t just back massagers. They are meant to circulate the water and chemicals you put into the pool. The jets combined with a high-quality pump and filter, create the clean, speedy, well-circulated water you need for an optimal swimming performance.

The Natare MicroFlo® filter provides endless benefits:

  • Ideal water clarity for competition
  • Save water: a MicroFlo filter can reduce water consumption up to 80%
  • Save time & money: A MicroFlo filter reduces maintenance costs and the need for hair and lint strainers

Other factors:

  • Starting blocks: They need to be slanted, the correct height and made from a material that isn’t slippery
  • Water temperature: A widely known rule is that cold pools are faster. If a pool is too hot, the swimmer will lose energy faster and could overheat
  • Air quality: This may sound like a strange one, but a venue with a lot of chemicals in the air can affect breathing, induce coughing and leave you with headaches
  • Gutter design: Commonly known as the fastest pool in the world, the IU Natatorium has a gutter depth of nearly 2 ft., which is great for absorbing waves
  • Lane width: If the lane is too wide, especially for backstroke, distance could be increased by swimming towards the outside of the lane

Some swimmers claim that wall brightness, pool familiarity, elevation above sea level, water treatment, number of screaming fans and a multitude of other factors can affect swimming speed.


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