Can You Use a Snorkel in a Swimming Pool?

Have you seen people snorkeling at the beach, or went snorkeling yourself, and wondered: “This is pretty fun, can I also do this in a swimming pool?” After all, it’s kind of awesome being able to keep your face submerged underwater for so long, so why not do it in a pool setting?

Whether snorkels are permitted or not  depends on the specific swimming pool and its rules. Some pools may allow snorkels for lap swimming, while others may prohibit them for safety or hygiene reasons. You will need to look up the rules or talk to the pool staff to see if it’s allowed at your local pool.

In this article, we will go over how a swim snorkel might be used in a swimming pool, what are the best practices and risks you need to be aware of, and the differences between snorkeling in outdoor bodies of water vs. at a pool. Let’s dive in.

Can you use a snorkel in a swimming pool?

You may be able to use a snorkel in a swimming pool. Many swimmers and triathletes use snorkels as a training tool in the pool to improve their swimming technique, body position, or to work on specific breathing exercises. A short adjustment period may be necessary to familiarize yourself with how to use a swim snorkel, and to ensure that it fits well to avoid any water ingress.

Is it safe to use a snorkel in a swimming pool?

Generally, it is safe to use a snorkel in a swimming pool, provided you follow some safety guidelines:

  1. Familiarity: Make sure you are familiar with how the snorkel works and practice using it in shallow water first. Choking on water and panicking is the last thing you want to do.
  2. Fit: Ensure that the snorkel fits well to avoid any discomfort or unexpected water ingress.
  3. Awareness: Always be aware of other swimmers and avoid collisions.
  4. Supervision: Children or novice swimmers should be supervised when using a snorkel in a pool.
  5. Check Pool Rules: Some pools may have regulations about using snorkels or other equipment. Always check the pool’s rules or ask the lifeguard beforehand.

Why would someone want to use a snorkel in a pool?

There are several reasons someone might want to use a snorkel in a pool:

  1. Technique Focus: Using a snorkel allows swimmers to focus on their stroke technique without having to turn their heads to breathe, leading to improved efficiency.
  2. Body Positioning: With a snorkel, swimmers can concentrate on maintaining a streamlined body position in the water.
  3. Breathing Exercises: Snorkels can be used to practice controlled breathing and increase lung capacity.
  4. Endurance Training: Triathletes and swimmers might use snorkels to simulate the breathing constraints they might experience during competitions.
  5. Recreation: Some people might use snorkels recreationally to experience what it’s like not having to surface for breath.

How is using a snorkel in a pool different from using it in the ocean or a lake?

Using a snorkel in a pool differs from using it in the ocean or a lake in several ways:

  1. Environment Stability: Pools generally have calm and predictable waters, whereas oceans and lakes can have currents, waves, and varying depths, which can affect how enjoyable and safe the experience is.
  2. Visibility: Pools, especially indoor ones, have clear water, making visibility straightforward. In contrast, oceans and lakes can have varying visibility depending on the weather, location, and other natural factors.
  3. Safety: In a pool, help is generally closer at hand in the form of lifeguards or other swimmers. In open waters, there might be a greater distance to safety.
  4. Purpose: In pools, snorkels are often used for training and technique. In the ocean or a lake, snorkels are typically used for exploring marine life and underwater landscapes.
  5. Water Quality: Pools contain chlorinated water, which can affect the materials of the snorkel over time. Natural bodies of water have varying salinity and might contain microorganisms.

How do I keep my snorkel from getting water inside while in a pool?

To prevent water from getting inside your snorkel while in a pool:

  1. Proper Fit: Ensure your snorkel mouthpiece fits securely in your mouth, and the snorkel’s clip is securely attached to your mask or goggles.
  2. Purge Valve: Some snorkels come with a purge valve at the bottom, which allows water to be easily expelled from the snorkel when you exhale. Familiarize yourself with this feature if your snorkel has it.
  3. Stay Upright: Ensure that the snorkel’s top remains above water. If you’re diving or ducking underwater, water will enter the snorkel.
  4. Clearing Technique: If water does enter the snorkel, you can clear it by forcefully exhaling through the snorkel when you surface. This will push out any water.
  5. Dry Top Snorkels: Consider using a snorkel with a dry top design. This type of snorkel has a mechanism that blocks water from entering the snorkel top when submerged.

How do you clean and care for a snorkel after using it in a chlorinated pool?

After using a snorkel in a chlorinated pool, it’s essential to clean and care for it properly to prolong its lifespan and ensure it remains safe for use. Here’s how:

  1. Rinse Thoroughly with Fresh Water: Immediately after using, rinse the snorkel with fresh water. This helps to remove the chlorine, which can damage the snorkel’s material over time.
  2. Soak in Mild Detergent: Occasionally, soak the snorkel in a solution of mild detergent and water for a few minutes. This will help remove any residues or oils from your mouth.
  3. Clean Inside: Use a snorkel brush or pipe cleaner to clean the inside of the snorkel tube to remove any buildup.
  4. Air Dry: After cleaning, allow the snorkel to air dry completely before storing it. This will prevent mold or mildew from forming.
  5. Store Properly: Store your snorkel in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can degrade its materials. Do not place anything heavy on top of the snorkel.
  6. Regular Checks: Periodically check your snorkel for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Replace parts as needed.

Is it recommended to wear a mask along with a snorkel in a pool?

It depends on whether you’re using a swim snorkel or a regular snorkel. If you are using a regular snorkel, then yes, it’s typically recommended to wear a mask along with a snorkel, especially if you’re diving below the surface or if you want to keep water out of your eyes. A mask:

  1. Provides Clarity: It gives clear vision underwater, allowing you to see your surroundings clearly.
  2. Protects Your Eyes: A mask protects your eyes from chlorine and other chemicals in the pool, preventing irritation.
  3. Secure Fit: Masks help to hold the snorkel securely in place, ensuring it remains properly positioned.

However, if you’re using a swim snorkel, then it is held in place using a strap you wear around your head and it does not need to be attached to a snorkel mask. You can therefore wear your swim goggles with your swim snorkel instead of a mask.

Can I practice freediving techniques in a pool with a snorkel?

Two things to keep in mind: 1) Most pools forbid diving underwater as it is a drowning risk, and 2) Even if you were allowed to dive in a pool with a snorkel, it must specifically be a regular snorkel, not a swim snorkel.

Regular snorkels are used with a snorkel mask. Snorkel masks are safe to dive with, whereas swim goggles aren’t. The reason is that snorkel masks have a nose pocket, which allows you to exhale from your nose to equalize the pressurized air inside your mask and also to equalize your ear pressure.

Swim goggles do not have a nose pocket and therefore you cannot equalize the air inside the goggles. As you dive deeper, the pressure will increase and the swim goggles will painfully squeeze your eyes – this is known as mask squeeze, and it can damage your eyes.

So, generally speaking, you are probably not allowed to dive in a pool with a snorkel.

Does using a snorkel in a pool pose any hygienic concerns?

Using a snorkel in a pool poses minimal hygienic concerns, especially if the pool is well-maintained and chlorinated. However, consider the following:

  1. Personal Hygiene: Ensure your snorkel is cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria or mold growth.
  2. Shared Equipment: If using shared or rented snorkels, it’s a good idea to sanitize the mouthpiece before use.
  3. Pool Quality: Swimming in a well-maintained pool minimizes risks, but if the pool isn’t adequately treated, there could be a risk of bacteria or other pathogens.

Is there a risk of inhaling water when using a snorkel in a pool?

Yes, there’s a potential risk of inhaling water when using a snorkel, especially if:

  1. The Snorkel Is Submerged: If you dive down or the snorkel’s top goes underwater, water can enter the tube.
  2. Improper Fit: If the mouthpiece doesn’t fit properly, water can seep in.
  3. Splashing or Waves: Sudden splashes or waves can cause water to enter the snorkel.

To mitigate this risk:

  1. Use a Dry Top Snorkel: This design prevents water from entering the snorkel when it’s submerged.
  2. Learn Proper Clearing Techniques: If water enters, knowing how to blow forcefully to clear the snorkel is crucial.
  3. Stay Calm: If you inhale or swallow a bit of water, try to remain calm and raise your head out of the water. Take deep breaths and cough if necessary.

Always be aware of your surroundings and ensure you’re comfortable with using the snorkel in your environment. If you’re new to snorkeling, consider practicing in shallow water until you’re confident.