Why Do Divers Shower When They Get Out of the Pool?
If you have ever gone to a public swimming pool, you will know that showers are required before entering the pool. This is to remove dirt and debris that would be shared with everyone who uses the same water. But why do you have to shower after leaving the pool? And do divers, who are trained athletes, prefer to shower each time after they get out of the pool even if they have spent little time actually in the water?
Showers between dives help to keep all of the muscles of the divers warm. Because they are constantly in and out of the pool, they need a way to keep their core temperature stable. If they were to avoid the shower, it is possible the cool air would cause the core temperature to drop, which can cause dangerous muscle cramps.
When the question of showering after each dive was asked at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, several incorrect answers were given. One of the experts from NBC said the divers showered "because they want to have fun." Another common guess was that the divers showered to remove chlorine. While chlorine can cause some discomfort and has negative effects on hair and skin, its removal in the shower is only a positive side effect.
Warming up using a shower has one main benefit, and that is to keep muscles from cramping because of temperature change. Cold can constrict blood vessels, preventing oxygen to be delivered to the muscle. This can cause cramps, but generally through lactic-acid buildup. This is an uncommon cause of cramps in divers. Cold also constricts the muscle itself, which can cause cramps and hinder diver performance.
During competitions, many divers prefer to stay warm in a hot tub rather than take a shower. This is because full immersion in the hot tub does a much better job of keeping the muscles warm and the diver's core temperature up than a shower does. It is also a good place to relax for a short period if the diver has had an experience with "balking" or freezing up before a dive.
Performing warm-ups and moving during breaks from activity are also a great way to deter muscle cramps if you are a diver. Since staying too long in the hot tub or shower can raise your core temperature to levels not conducive to diving performance, splitting your time between the hot tub or shower and doing warm-ups might be the best option for you, but be sure to ask your coach first.
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