Swimming is one of the great pleasures of summer: as well as being a fun sport, it helps combat the effects of the sweltering heat. However, it's worth taking a number of simple precautions to make those moments in, under and around the water even better.
- Beware of fungal infections. Athletes foot and other fungal infections are one of the greatest health risks at the pool. Make sure you use flip flops or other waterproof sandals around the poolside and changing-room areas. Remember, too, to dry carefully between your toes, as infections love warm moist environments.
- Ear infections. It's not just your feet that are vulnerable to infection: your ears are at risk, too. So dry them thoroughly – without ramming the towel or baby bud down into the delicate ear canal – and you should avoid the common summer ear problems.
- Warm up exercise. As with any exercise, if you are going to swim seriously, you need to warm up first. Maybe take a brisk walk or a run, or simply start your swim with a few gentle lengths to raise your body temperature slightly.
- Beware of cramps. We are used to being told we shouldn't swim for a couple of hours after a meal, but cramps aren't always associated with the digestive process. They can also occur when the body gets over-heated, for whatever reason, or when it has undertaken a lot of exercise.
- Hygiene. Always shower before entering the water. It's a good idea to take another shower when you come out, too. And don't forget to use a bathing cap, particularly if you have long hair.
- Take care. The pool enclosure is not the place for running or playing as the wet floor may lead to falls and other accidents. Take care when diving, too, both for your own sake and that of those in the pool.