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.

I will go through some of the reasons why you might want to consider running the pool pump when you swim so you can make up your own mind about what is best for your situation.

Do you run the pool pump while swimming. Bugs in the poo.
Do you want to swim with these?
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Good reasons to run the pool pump while swimming

Floating debris

If you do not run the pool pump while swimming, and you haven’t run pool pump for a few hours before, then the skimmers will not be working.

Without the skimmers working floating debris will not be removed from the pool surface which means any bugs, leaves or other debris will still be floating around while you are swimming.

For that reason alone I would suggest that you run the pool pump, ideally switching it on 10 minutes before you go in to give the skimmers a chance to work.

Dust filtration

As well as floating debris being removed by the skimmers when you run the pool pump, also when people are swimming and splashing about, any other debris on the bottom such as dust would probably be disturbed.

With the pump running this will (eventually) be picked up and filtered.

Swimmer’s debris

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

If you do not run the pool pump so that the water filtration and circulation system is not functioning then these are likely to float on the surface and perhaps settle on other swimmers. When you run the pump the skimmers will probably remove much of this.

Water features

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.

What a pain

Most people run a pool pump for at least eight hours during the day. so that the filter system can do its work.

During the summer, particularly if you have lots of children who are constantly in and out of the pool, can you imagine how inconvenient it would be to have to switch off the pool pump every time someone wanted to go in.

Public pools

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 without the pool filter running – 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.

Should a Pool Main Drain Be Open or Closed
Pool main drain

Beware of main drains

The one potential danger of swimming when the pool pump is still running is the slight possibility of someone being held by the main drain if swimming underwater 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 pumps for an Intex pool 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.

Pool waterfall - pool water undergo filtration

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 on the surface, 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 as the pool filtration system will not have been used so the pool water will not have been cleaned. 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 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.

Pool Maintenance Course

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool, I knew nothing about cleaning and maintaining 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