TIME public health

3 Things You Can Catch from a Pool

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Outbreaks of illnesses from hot tubs and pools have been increasing in recent years

Think a chlorinated pool is a safe, sterile place? Think again. There are a few dangers lurking in a shared pool, whether at a gym, a community center or even a fancy resort. In fact, outbreaks of illnesses from hot tubs and pools have been increasing in recent years, with 90 outbreaks causing 1,788 illnesses and one death between 2011-2012, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn what icky things you can pick up, plus how to ward them off.

Diarrhea

One of the top causes of post-swim illness is a parasite called cryptosporidium (crypto for short), which leads to diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea. According to the new CDC report, of the 69 outbreaks associated with treated water, more than half were caused by crypto. Symptoms can last for up to two weeks. The parasite ends up in the water if feces (even trace amounts from someone who didn’t shower first) of an infected person gets in the pool. The bug is resistant to chlorine and survives outside the body for long periods.

Protect yourself: Crypto spreads when you accidentally swallow contaminated pool water or you touch your mouth before washing your hands. Don’t touch your face until you’ve had your post-swim shower, with soap and hot water.

Pinkeye

Burning eyes, excessive tearing and redness can occur because of an allergic reaction to chlorine, or an infection if the pool isn’t chlorinated enough. It can also happen if people aren’t showering before swimming or are (ugh!) peeing in the pool. Urine, as well as cosmetics and other chemicals that can wash off people’s skin, can irritate your eyes.

Protect yourself: You can shield your eyes from all of this by wearing a pair of well-fitting goggles every time you go for a dip.

Hot Tub Rash

This is an itchy skin infection that can lead to a bumpy, red rash, often worse in the areas covered by your bathing suit. Chlorine can easily kill the germ that causes it, but the warm water in a hot tub makes chlorine break down faster, so it’s more likely you’d pick it up there.

Protect Yourself: The risk of hot tub rash goes up the longer the contaminated water touches your skin, which is why it seems to show up in areas your wet bathing suit clings to. Save your dip in the hot tub for the end of your pool day, shower and change shortly after your soak and wash your swimsuit before wearing it again.

Contributed reporting by Amelia Harnish.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Parenting

What to Tell Your Kids about Water Safety

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Jordan Siemens—Getty Images

Drowning is leading cause of accidental death for children

Summer means a lot of us will head for the water.

But when we do, says Tom Griffiths, founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, and former Director of Aquatics and Safety Officer for Athletics at Penn State University, we need to be alert. Because, depending on their age group, drowning is consistently the first or second leading cause of accidental death for children.

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Most of the wisdom of the past, Griffiths says, focused on paying close attention while kids are in the water. But no parent can be alert enough to fully protect a child. In fact, some cognitive psychologists have come to the conclusion that “lifeguarding is really an impossible task,” he says. A busy waterside, filled with lots of kids, is just “too much stimulus for the human brain.”

His solution?

At all ages, he says, kids should be in Coast-Guard approved life jackets–ones that fit. “No one has ever drowned in a properly fitting life jacket,” Griffiths says. So until they can pass a standard swim test, Griffiths says, kids should be wearing one.

And while parents may worry that kids will resist, his research shows that when pools offer life jackets, attendance actually goes up–probably because both parents and kids feel safer with the extra protection. Even more important, the number of water rescues plummets, by as much as 90%.

In elementary school, Griffiths says, parents should begin by helping kids view life jackets as a standard safety measure, “like buckling up a seatbelt, or wearing a helmet on a bike.” Having to wear a life jacket can also give kids an incentive to learn how to swim, according to Griffiths: “now the prize is they get out of their jacket.”

Middle school kids should be encouraged to do whatever it takes to get comfortable in the water, whether that’s formal swimming lessons, or just spending time in water sports or activities. But Griffiths also encourages parents to help kids avoid risky behavior in the water. One that’s especially popular, and dangerous, is breath-holding contests. Instead, parents can encourage kids to concentrate on breath control and relaxation.

High school kids may get overconfident, Griffiths says. Many teenagers overestimate how good they are at swimming, even though studies show that almost half of Americans can hardly swim at all. That kind of bravado is especially common under peer pressure. So parents can talk with kids about being realistic about their abilities. Another warning Griffiths suggests parents give to older kids: never dive until they know how deep the water is, because “95% of injuries resulting in paralysis are in less than 5 feet of water.”

The good news, according to Griffiths, is that, with the right strategies, “drowning is so easily preventable.” And as more and more parents rely on a combination of life jackets and swim lessons, he believes the rate will decrease even further.

TIME Bizarre

Attention Hipster Swimmers, This Beard Cap Is the Answer to Your Prayers

Virgin Trains, official train partner to the Great North Swim, has launched an innovative swim cap for bearded men – the Beard Cap - which will be trialled with customers competing at the Great North Swim, Lake Windermere, June 12 – 14, 2015. Responding to debates on swimming forums about big beards causing drag, Virgin Trains commissioned its own research which revealed that over one in ten men (12 per cent) connected their beard to slower swim times, and nearly a quarter of men feel their beards hinder their sports performance. For swimmers, spectators and supporters planning a weekend away to the Lakes during the Great North Swim, there are exclusive discounts of up to 50%  across Virgin Trains First and Standard Advance Fares. To find out more information and buy tickets to travel to The Great North Swim visit http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/nova/
Mikael Buck—Virgin Trains Virgin Trains has launched an innovative swim cap for bearded men which will be trialled with customers competing at the Great North Swim, Lake Windermere, U.K., on June 12–14, 2015

Talk about shaving a few seconds off your swim time

Facial hair, especially the long unruly kind, can prove a severe impediment to a swimmer’s aquatic aerodynamic ability. A new invention from Virgin Trains called the Beard Cap, however, promises to change that forever.

The “innovative swim cap for bearded men,” as the rail company described the device in a press release, is just like a regular swimming cap, except it also extends to cover the wearer’s chin and press the beard closer to the face. The cap, which is “reusable, adjustable and perfect for keeping bushy beards under control,” will be launched at the Great North Swim in England’s Lake Windermere from June 12 to 14.

The invention is even backed by research commissioned by the company, which revealed that over 1 in 10 men attributed their beard to slower swim times, and nearly a quarter of men feel their beards negatively impact sports performance.

“At Virgin Trains we’re passionate about giving our customers the most awesome experience possible, and this extends to their sporting endeavors as they are traveling to the Great North Swim with us,” said Adrian Verma, the company’s senior partnerships and marketing manager. “In addition to the 50% discounted tickets to the event for spectators and competitors, we’re delighted to be offering customers this innovative cap to help them do their best.”

TIME public health

Outbreak of Norovirus Linked to a Popular Oregon Lake

15,400 people visited the lake that weekend

Flu season is over, but with the summer comes health concerns of a different pathogenic sort. An outbreak of the stomach bug norovirus last summer was linked to a popular lake destination in Oregon, found a new study released in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

After the weekend of July 12, 2014, the Multnomah County Health Department received word of 13 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness from people who’d visited Blue Lake Regional Park, a popular lake near Portland, Ore., the weekend prior. The investigation identified 70 likely cases of norovirus, which causes stomach flu and is most famously known for striking cruise ship passengers, from the weekend of July 11-13. About 15,400 people visited the park that weekend, and the lake was closed for 10 days to control the outbreak. People who went swimming in the lake were 2.3 times more likely to get sick than those who visited but didn’t go in the water.

Though the authors weren’t able to say for sure, the most likely cause of the outbreak was “a swimmer’s vomit or fecal incident in the lake,” the report reads. Lakes are especially vulnerable, the authors write, since they tend to attract small children and are not chemically treated.

This isn’t the first time the lake has caught a nasty virus. In 1991, Blue Lake was linked to an outbreak of E. coli and Shigella, and in 2004, it had an outbreak of norovirus that affected more than 100 people.

TIME swimming

Phelps Returns After Suspension: I Need to Prove I Have Changed

Arena Pro Swim Series at Mesa - Day 2
Chris Coduto—Getty Images Michael Phelps competes during day two of the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatics Center in Mesa, Ariz., on April 16, 2015

Michael Phelps is back in the water – and determined to prove that he’s different.

The Olympic swimmer, 29, spoke publicly for the first time since his six-month suspension and rehab stint before competing at the 2015 Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona, stating that he takes “responsibility for all of my actions.”

“I’ve hurt a lot of people and it’s been terrible. For me, being able to move forward and being able to be back in the pool is something I’m very excited about,” Phelps said during an opening-day press conference Wednesday.

“I understand that’s going to take a lot of time, for me to be able to prove to whoever I need to prove to that I am different, that I have changed. This week will be the first week I can start that,” he continued.

USA Swimming suspended the decorated athlete and forced him to withdraw from the 2015 world championships after he was arrested for drunk driving in Baltimore in September 2014.

Phelps also lost six months of funding from the organization and was banned from participating in USA Swimming-sanctioned meets through April 6, 2015. He sought treatment less than a week after his arrest.

The swim star said that he feels closer than ever to his loved ones and has become more mindful of his behavior: “I’m aware of everything that’s going on. I’m fully engaged in everything that’s happening.”

Despite reports that Phelps would potentially be reinstated to the team ahead of this year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August, USA Swimming ruled against allowing him to compete.

“It’s obviously very challenging for me to not be able to compete at world championships,” Phelps said. “I will be in full support of everything they do over there, and I wish them all the luck in Kazan.”

But the 18-time gold medalist said he aims to attend the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

She said yes😁😁😁 @nicole.m.johnson. (Photo credit to @arschmitty )

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

The Baltimore native has plenty to celebrate outside of the pool. Phelps proposed to girlfriend Nicole Johnson, 29, in February, taking to Instagram to announce the couple’s engagement.

“I know that I literally can say this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” he said during a media event.

This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com

TIME swimming

Michael Phelps Will Aim for 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio

Michael Phelps during a practice session in Mesa, Ariz. on April 15, 2015.
Matt York—AP Michael Phelps during a practice session in Mesa, Ariz. on April 15, 2015.

The swimmer's 6-month-long suspension for DUI arrest ended on April 6

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps said Wednesday that he will try to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to ESPN’s Wayne Drehs.

It is the first time Phelps has publicly committed to trying for the 2016 Games. One year ago, he announced he was coming out of retirement and would possibly target the Olympics in Rio.

Phelps is returning to competition this week for the first time since being suspended for six months from all sanctioned events. USA Swimming suspended him in October after he was arrested for DUI, and his suspension ended on April 6. He is competing in the Arena Pro Swim Series, which is being held April 15-18 at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz.

As part of his suspension, USA Swimming and Phelps decided he would not participate in the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. It was reported that he could possibly be reinstated for the event, but on Wednesday Phelps said he respects the decision of USA Swimming and will not compete in Kazan.

Last November, fellow USA swimmer Ryan Lochte said he had “no doubt” Phelps will be ready for the 2016 Olympics. Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, including a one-hundredth of a second victory in the 100-meter butterfly that SI captured with an underwater camera.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 27

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why did Saudi Arabia lead airstrikes on the rebels who’ve seized Yemen? The answer isn’t as clear as it seems.

By Frederic Wehrey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Three black swimmers swept the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA swim championships — and swept away a long-standing stereotype.

By Kavitha Davidson in Bloomberg View

3. Could a Facebook deal to host news content make news brands obsolete?

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

4. A new satellite study reveals the rapid breakdown of Antarctic ice. Low-lying nations should be worried.

By Robert McSweeney in the Carbon Brief

5. Here’s how reproductive health rights for women can help end poverty.

By Valerie Moyer in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME celebrities

Michael Phelps Just Got Engaged to Former Miss California USA

Subway Press Conference With Pele And Michael Phelps
Rafael Neddermeyer—Getty Images Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps attends a Subway press conference to promote healthy living and lifestyle among childrenon December 04, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Olympic champion is taking the plunge

Olympic champion Michael Phelps is engaged to girlfriend Nicole Johnson, the swimmer announced on Instagram Sunday.

The 22-time Olympic medalist posted a photo of the couple lying in the snow with the caption, “She said yes.” Johnson posted a similar photo to her Instagram with with the caption “I’m gonna be a Mrs.”

The couple began dating in 2009 but broke up in 2012 before getting back together, according to Page Six. Johnson was Miss California USA 2010.

She said yes😁😁😁 @nicole.m.johnson. (Photo credit to @arschmitty )

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

I'm gonna be a Mrs. 🙊🙈 @m_phelps00 💍❤️ 📷: @arschmitty

A photo posted by Nicole Michele (@nicole.m.johnson) on

TIME swimming

Michael Phelps Pleads Guilty to DUI, Avoids Jail Time

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps walks into a courthouse in Baltimore, Md. for a trial on drunken driving and other charges on Dec. 19, 2014.
Patrick Semansky—AP Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps walks into a courthouse in Baltimore, Md. for a trial on drunken driving and other charges on Dec. 19, 2014.

This is the Olympic swimmer's second DUI arrest in 10 years

Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in court in Baltimore District Court on Friday, according to the Washington Post.

Phelps was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and 18 months of supervised probation, and will not need to serve jail time.

The swimmer was arrested in Maryland on Sept. 30 after reportedly driving 84 mph on a road where the speed limit is 45 mph. He was also charged with excessive speed and crossing double lane lines.

According to USA Today, Phelps received probation before judgment, and his record will be cleared if he does not have any repeat violations within the next 18 months.

“I hope we don’t have this conversation again and I’m optimistic that we won’t have this conversation again,” Judge Nathan Braverman said after his sentencing.

USA Swimming later suspended Phelps from their sanctioned events for six months.

It was Phelps’ second DUI arrest in ten years. The previous incident, which occurred when Phelps was 19-years-old, resulted in 18 months of probation.

After his arrest in September, Phelps took full responsibility for his actions and said he was “deeply sorry” to anyone he let down. On Oct. 5, he said he would enter a six-week treatment program.

Phelps, who has 22 Olympic medals, including 18 golds, announced in April that he was coming out of retirement and would possibly target the 2016 Olympics. He had just started training for the Rio Games before his arrest.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME swimming

Michael Phelps to Seek Help Following DUI Arrest

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Patrick Hamilton—AFP/Getty Images Michael Phelps of the US reacts following the men's 100 m butterfly heat at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast on Aug. 23, 2014.

"I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself"

Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Michael Phelps announced he would be seeking professional help following a DUI arrest last week.

“I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself,” the 29-year-old swimmer tweeted on Sunday.

Phelps’ blood-alcohol level was reportedly double the legal limit last Tuesday when he was pulled over after being caught driving 84 mph in a Maryland tunnel with a 45 mph speed limit. Phelps, who authorities say was cooperative during the incident, failed two sobriety tests and gave up on a third. He told police “that’s not happening” when he was asked to attempt standing on one leg.

Later that day, Phelps tweeted a multi-part apology that said he understood “the severity of [his] actions” and was “deeply sorry to everyone [he] let down,”

Phelps was previously charged with a DUI in 2004 after he ran a stop sign.

Phelps has earned 22 Olympic medals, including eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and four gold medals in the 2012 London Games. Phelps has not confirmed his participation in the Rio Games in 2016.

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