It is getting cold here in Idaho and I have continued swimming in my outdoor swimming pool. Today, the high was 41°F, for about 3 seconds, I’m sure. However, if you’ve been reading along, you know that I have a semi-portable cover over my outdoor swimming pool this year. The main idea of the cover was to keep off the chilling winter winds that gave me headaches last year when I swam while air temperatures were well below freezing. It is a thin fabric tent attached to a hoop frame, so there is no insulation, such as in walls of a house or can be put into a built-on garage. The lower edges of the fabric only lay on the ground. I haven’t seen them flap up, but I do see that some leaves are getting pushed under by the wind. There are spaces open a bit to the outside on both ends. The end against the equipment housing simply cannot be zipped up completely without some drastic redesigning. The end of the portable cover that projects into the yard has areas that are cut to fit around the corner ends of the frame, so there is more than one place where there is some air flow.
In spite of these openings, the whole air space stays comparatively cozy around the pool, the only exception being when I stand right up next to and partially into one of the openings. I have been wearing a full body swim suit to get into the water, like I did last year (more on that below). For review, I keep the water temperature close to 80°F. Even though the water that condenses on the inside of the cover is icy if I accidentally rub against it, the air under the tent is being heated by the pool water and feels nice. This has got to help some with the heating bill, too, since all that heat is not just escaping into the cold, blue sky immediately.
Here are a few other things I have noticed about my new, improved indoor outdoor swimming pool arrangement:
- Not nearly as much debris, fallen leaves, or anything else blowing in the wind, are falling into the water or getting on the cover.
- No spontaneous ponds from rain, snow, or frozen lakes are collecting on the covers that sit just on top of the water. I have spent considerable time bailing or sweeping previous to having the portable garage cover in place. This isn’t such a burdensome task in warm weather, but in the cool temperatures, it can keep me from wanting to make the effort to swim.
- There has been absolutely no trouble with those same covers blowing off during windy storms.
- It is easier to keep my swimming pool cleaning equipment handy, since leaving it alongside the pool is now not the same as leaving it outdoors. This leads to more frequent scrubbing and more comfortable vacuuming of the pool.
- I can also keep my new underwater timer by the edge of the pool without it being subject to the sun and weather. This makes it easier to get quickly into the pool area and keeps me from feeling the chill as much as I transition from house to pool zone.
- There is a stronger chemical smell due to the enclosure, but if it bothers me it can be moderated by a quick opening of both ends of the portable cover for a few seconds. So far, doing this has not noticeably cooled of the inside of the portable cover.
- The windows let in plenty of light. I was concerned I might feel almost claustrophobic, but the windows make it so that I don’t even come close to feeling that.
- When it is warmer or sunny enough that I don’t want to be completely inside, just opening the end that looks out into the yard makes it feel nicely open, while still giving some protection from any less than warm breeze. This will help with the transition to spring, when
- I have found myself wanting to take of my outer, full body swim suit (I wear a one piece underneath it) after about 5 minutes of swimming at a low level endurance pace. Without the cold air above the water, I find it easy to pretend I am swimming in the tropics.
- The doggy can get in and out of the cover at will, through the openings I spoke of previously. This is important to her since she is a herding dog of Australian Shepherd and Golden Retriever heritage. She gets excited to keep an eye on me while I’m swimming, even going so far as to pay attention to when the current generator is turned off and on! She has NEVER been invited into the pool and is not allowed to even drop toys into it for us to throw for her, since there is not way for her to get out. No steps or anything.
I will be interested to see if any of the condensation freezes on the inside of the cover. I also wonder how warm it will feel in there when the daytime high temperatures drop into the single digits during the deep mid winter, but if I could swim when it was out in the open, it has to be better with the portable cover on. If more people knew how well this is working, they might go swimming in their own backyards in Idaho in the middle of winter. (photo can be enlarged by clicking on it)