Feature Article - February 2004
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In the Swim

The Best Strategies for Aquatic Center Peak Performance

By Kim Tobin


When it comes to sanitizers, chlorine is not the only option for keeping a pool clean and clear. Bromine has been available since the early 1980s as an alternative that provides several benefits, including less irritation potential for eyes and skin, low odor, and a wider pH range.

From a bather comfort standpoint, when bromine is used, there does not seem to be as much of a problem with eye and skin irritation, according to industry reports. A properly maintained chlorine-treated pool usually will not create problems, either. However, if the chlorine is improperly added, the chloramines that form from the combined chlorine can cause stinging skin and eyes for some swimmers.

Also, because it does not form chloramines, which can create a very strong odor in indoor pool environments, bromine has a less intense smell for sensitive noses.

Another advantage of bromine is that it has a wider range of pH activity than chlorine. As pH levels go up, chlorine loses its effectiveness more quickly, so it's not as forgiving as bromine.

Both chlorine and bromine are easy to feed and control. However, some forms of chlorine, such as calcium hypochloride, require more frequent feeder cleaning, whereas bromine often will require less frequent feeder cleaning. Additionally, when coupled with ozone used as an oxidizer, bromine's sanitizing power is re-charged by the ozone, enhancing its effectiveness.

While there are many positives, perhaps the biggest drawback of bromine is that it is not sunlight stable. If used for outdoor facilities, it requires more frequent feeding and is not as cost effective as it would be for indoor use. So, the advantages are greatest for indoor aquatic centers.

Cleaning—where, when and how

Although algae and dirt may not be visible, it's probably there—and growing. This procedure should be done daily:

  • Brush pool walls top to bottom with a nylon-bristle brush, which will send dirt to the bottom to be vacuumed out. Use a stainless-steel brush on tough algae deposits, making sure not to damage the pool surface.
  • Clean tile line using a tile brush. Clean with nonabrasive tile cleaner or mild acid cleaner made specifically for tile lines.
  • Make sure your skimmer net fits your debris needs.
Manual vacuums
  • If provided, use a separate suction line for the vacuum to connect to, or use the pool's existing skimmer. If using a skimmer, it may be necessary to divert extra suction to it by use of switching valves or plugging other open skimmers.
  • The heavier the vacuum head, the easier it is to keep on the pool floor. Check the condition of the vacuum head periodically. If wheels are worn down, the head will not move freely on the pool surface. If the hose has a swivel end, make sure it's placed on the vacuum head side. Often when a hose has a small air leak, it's difficult to see, but it can affect performance.
Automatic vacuums
  • Many newer models offer infrared sensors to help the unit adjust to different depths, remote controls for steering and automatic shut-offs to allow units to run overnight.
  • Portable, self-contained systems can be used poolside for maximum suction. Many contain their own filter to prevent debris from entering the main filter system.