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Pools | Getting Suntanned at a Pool | Swimming in Pools

When we think of swimming pools today we usually think of suntans, tanning oils, pool toys and kids splashing and playing in the cool, refreshing water. Not too long ago, most sun tanning or sunbathing was done at area beaches, local swimming holes or public swimming pools, far from the privacy of your own backyard oasis. Long before that, there is evidence of ancient bathing or swimming pools, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC such as the "great bath" at the site of Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh, Pakistan. This prehistoric pool measures 23 feet x 40 feet, is lined with bricks and was covered with a tar-like sealant.

Swimming as a leisure activity goes back as far as 2500 BC and originated mostly in ancient Egypt and later in ancient Greece, Rome, and Assyria. In ancient Rome and Greece, swimming became part of the standardized education of elementary age boys in society. The Romans were said to have built the first actual swimming pools separate from baths. The first heated swimming pool was constructed in the first century BC by a rich Roman aristocrat who was engrossed in sponsoring local artists and writers.

For the public, pools became popular in Great Britain by the mid-19th century. By 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards were built in London. The Modern Olympic Games in 1896 included swimming races which hugely boosted the popularity of swimming pools. The athletes needed places to train and practice. In 1907, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia unveiled one of the world's first modern above-ground swimming pools in the clubhouse. Another neat fact about these early pools is that the first swimming pool on an ocean liner was on the White Star Line's Adriatic, also in 1907. Backyard swimming pools became all the rage in the United States shortly after World War II. One cause for this was all the publicity and media hype given to swimming-type sports by well-known Hollywood films like Esther Williams’ “Million Dollar Mermaid”. These helped create the home pool into a highly desirable status symbol. Suddenly, it became an extremely sought-after luxury for the rich and famous.  

Pools can be above ground or in-ground and are utilized for many activities, not just leisurely fun in the sun. These unique uses range from scuba diving and other water sports to lifeguard and astronaut training at the largest indoor pool --- the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in the Sonny Carter Training Facility at NASA JSC in Houston, Texas. Another is the recreational diving center (called Nemo 33) near Brussels, Belgium --- home to the world's deepest swimming pool. This pool has 2 large flat-bottomed shelves at depths of 16 ft and 33 ft as well as a large circular pit going down to a total depth of 108 ft. They are used by people from all parts of the globe to teach specialized operations such as water survival techniques for submarine and aircraft crews.

The water used in pools can differ as well, with the most common being traditional chlorinated water by most pool owners. If you detest swimming in harsh chemicals and chlorine like some do, the newest trend is salt water: completed pools filled with saltwater are easier on your skin and can still self-clean themselves. In the 1980’s over in Europe, natural pools became a hit and are still widely popular. These are pools that use water motion and plant life to naturally filter the water. The notion behind these is that your swimming pool should be as organic as a mountain pond. The cutting-edge pools these days are ocean pools. These pools use water directly from the ocean, whether pumped in and allowed to drain back into the sea or using the tides to fill the pool and then slowly drain naturally (or manually controlled draining). Nothing like paradise in paradise! Here you get to suntan at the beach and swim in the crystal-clear ocean water but without the harshness of the waves. Depending on the size of the ocean pool, you can have perfect conditions for all your favorite water sports in a saltwater pool; almost like owning your own private part of the ocean! The largest pool in the world is one of these unique saltwater paradises. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest swimming pool in the world is San Alfonso del Mar, the enormous seawater pool in Algarrobo, Chile. It was completed in December 2006 and is 3,323 ft long! 

Sunny southern California and other warm areas of the world almost demand a pool to be part of your backyard living. The necessity to extend precious square feet outdoors into living area comes into play when the weather is nice 300+ days of the year. Relaxing outdoors, grilling, swimming and hanging outside with the family creates a strong desire for a pool. Sun tanning is more convenient and private in the backyard than at the community pool, beach or lakefront. Nothing is more relaxing than swimming up to your poolside bar with underwater bar stools! Pools have come a long way since the traditional rectangular shaped concrete pit with a plastic liner to having your own tropical oasis, complete with rock waterfalls, unbelievable waterslides and even tree swings. Close your eyes and imagine a fire pit, sandy beach and grottos hidden under waterfalls only feet from your back door. Brian Cullingworth Custom Pools and Spas & California Pools, two dream pool companies well-known in southern California, have hundreds of mind-blowing photos in their online photo galleries which are useful for gathering ideas for your own personal backyard getaway.

So now you want a pool? There are many types, shapes and even needs for pools. Some types are in-ground pools, some are above ground. Perhaps an ocean pool is out of the question, but there are infinity pools, natural pools, zero or beach entry pools, wave pools and endless pools. Even standard pools come in many sizes, the largest being the Olympic-sized pool. The recent trend has been a rise in interest for small pools/spas sometimes called “spools”. Smaller than a traditional-sized pool but bigger than a regular spa, these are a fantastic idea for space-challenged yards! Which one is right for you? Can you imagine watching a beautiful sunset overlooking an infinity pool or maybe having a secluded beach entry pool complete with sand and wave machines? There are also endless pools or flowing water pools. These pools are very unique and have many uses including exercise, swim training, physical therapy and even entertainment. With customized directional and adjustable water flow your endless pool can be used for laps, simulate easy resistance walking or with the flow set at full blast you can reach fast enough speeds to even boogie board!

Here are some other reasons to consider a pool:

Family Time - With a pool, you're actually creating a fun and comforting space for your children and family to spend quality time together. You'll build lasting memories as you teach your kids to swim and be safe in the water.

Fitness - Instead of handing over your hard-earned money to the local gym, you can spend time exercising in your own pool. Research shows that swimming provides a great total body workout with a low risk of injury. It also helps you to lose weight faster and is a huge stress reliever.

Entertaining - On warm afternoons or tranquil summer evenings, a pool is a great way to entertain. Invite your neighbors and friends over for a poolside barbeque and a refreshing dip in the water.

Save Some Money - A pool is easier to finance and maintain than most people think. In the long run, pools are less expensive than big family vacations and other entertainment options - and the fun lasts longer.

Relax and Enjoy - When you get home from a long day at work or need to escape the hectic day-to-day of life, take a quick dip in your pool to unwind. Spending time in the water helps your body relax physically, mentally and get rid of stress. You also may sleep better than you ever have before!

As you can see, pools have evolved just as much as most other things on this planet; from community bathing pools to giant water parks. From the hotel on the side of the highway to the supreme vacation water resorts such as Atlantis in the Bahamas or the Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida. Hundreds of other hotels all over the world beckon you with a tropical oasis and lazy river. Best evolution out of all of this? In our opinion, it’s got to be the leap from the rectangular pools of the 70’s to the backyard paradises of today. Picture yourself on a floating lounge, hanging out with an umbrella drink…the smell of suntan oil, the sounds of kids playing in the waterfall and a ball game playing on the giant flat screen TV at the poolside bar. Best part of all you don’t have to load up and drive home! 

So whether at a public pool or at your own backyard watering hole, have fun out in the sun and enjoy the outdoors but remember to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by using a good SPF sunscreen or tanning lotion, staying hydrated, and swimming responsibly. Also, be sure to keep checking Suntan.com for the UV index in your area daily!

-SoCalSuntan & CAsuntan

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