Is It Safe to Swim While the Pool Pump Is Running?


Pool safety is of course very important and new pool owners will naturally have many questions initially, not least of which is whether it is safe to swim when the pool pump is running (or without).

It is safe to swim while the pool pump is running and, in fact, having the filter working while swimming is actually the best option. If you don’t then any bugs or debris on the surface of the pool will not be removed by the skimmers and you will be swimming with them.

As well as floating debris being removed by the skimmers when the pump is running, also when people are swimming and splashing about, any other debris on the bottom would probably be disturbed. With the pump running this will (eventually) be picked up and filtered.

Swimmers will also bring things into the pool with them such as:

  • dirt, dust and sand on their feet
  • suntan lotion
  • deodorant on their bodies
  • hair of course
Is it safe to swim in your pool with the pump switched off - pool waterfall

Remember, if you have any features built into your pool such as waterfalls, deck jets, built in spa or bubblers then the pump needs to be running for these to function.

The same would be true if you have a resistance swimming system fitted in your pool of course.

There would be no point in having any of these if you had to switch them off to go in the pool.

If you think of public swimming pools, their filtration systems run all of the time members of the public use them. Can you imagine what the water might be like after perhaps 12 hours of constant use – with school classes in and out, swimming clubs, water-aerobics and others swimming? It may resemble some kind of soup at the end of the day.

Is it safe to swim with the pool pump off
Do you want to swim with these?

Beware of main drains

The one potential danger of swimming when the pool pump is running is the slight possibility of someone being held by the main drain if swimming under water over it. In modern pools this is not an issue as they should have anti-vortex drain covers fitted (also known as anti-entrapment covers). In many states this is now a requirement under health and safety codes and also Federal law..

If your pool does not have one they can be bought cheaply and most people who are competent swimmers can dive to the bottom, unscrew the old one and screw on the new one – with a few breaths in between.

They can be purchased on Amazon but of course you will need to choose the right one for your main drain – pool main drain anti-votex covers.

Is this true for all pumps?

Oddly, it seems Intex recommends that for some of it’s older models of above ground pool pump that you do not swim while the pool is running. I can’t find any confirmation of this, or why it might be, but it is something to bear in mind if you have one.

Is it safe to swim when the pool pump is not running?

Provided the pool pump is functioning and has been running recently then you can swim with the pump off. As stated above, you may be swimming with the odd bug or other debris, but that may not be a problem for you.

My pump is set to go off at 6pm and we often swim around that time. If it is a time of year when we get lots of leaves etc in the pool then I will sometimes manually switch the pump on so the skimmers continue to run. If I don’t have the pump on I tend to spend half of the time while in the pool hunting for leaves and things to get them out.

If your pool pump is broken then I wouldn’t recommend swimming in the pool for more than a day or two after it last ran. We did that when ours broke a few years ago and I was waiting for delivery of a new one. I just checked the pool chemistry before swimming.

Should I run my pool pump on high or low when swimming?

If you have a variable speed pool pump then this is a good question.

Personally I would decide whether to or not based on how much debris you may be getting in your pool at the moment.

  • If very little, then run it on low
  • if it is fall, or there are many bugs around, then put it on high.

My top 3 pool cleaning tools

These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.

Step and corner vacuum brush

This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush

Leaf rake net

If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom on your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.

Robotic Pool Cleaner

These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended on all of the pool forums.

If you found this article useful then you may want to read:

Why is my skimmer not skimming?

Why are there two holes at the bottom of a pool skimmer?

Can I put chlorine tablets in my skimmer basket?

JP in Fuerteventura

I have had hot tubs for many years and a pool for the last 7 years. I had to learn how to clean it, maintain it and fix it the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you.

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