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.

Good reasons to run the pump when swimming

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.

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

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.

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 in your pool with the pump switched off - pool waterfall

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.

Pool Maintenance Course

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.

It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.

Pool care handbook

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?