SPORTS
08/01/2012 02:02 pm ET | Updated Aug 07, 2013

Do Olympic Swimmers Pee In The Pool? 'Nearly 100 Percent' Do, Says Former U.S. National Team Member

Carly Geehr has answered one of life's eternal questions: Do Olympians pee in the pool?

The answer, is, yes, but the extent to which this is true may disturb many.

Geehr, a former USA Swimming National Team Member, decided to provide the icky details when faced with the question on Quora:

Nearly 100% of elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool. Regularly. Some deny it, some proudly embrace it, but everyone does.

The more interesting question is *when* does said peeing happen?

  • Just about the only time you can get away with peeing during a race is during a breaststroke pullout. You spend enough time gliding that if you really gotta go, you probably could. Otherwise, you're too tense and too, well, busy to even think about peeing.
  • Before a race is an interesting time. It depends on the meet and to some extent the color of the pool deck. I kid you not. You always try to pee before you swim, but sometimes your body defies logic and finds a way to refill your bladder just to spite you. Adrenaline and nerves wreak havoc on your system, and I knew tons of other swimmers that always, regardless of prior planning, had to pee right before a race. What to do if you're desperate? Well, it's not uncommon to splash yourself before you climb up on the blocks, so that extra liquid on yourself and the pool deck affords you an interesting opportunity. (I'll let you finish the rest of that thought.)
  • Warmup/practice - totally free reign. As a swimmer, you just have to accept that you're swimming in pee. I had a teammate that would sit on the wall and announce "I'm peeing!" which was... disgusting... but at least she warned us. I'm sure I've swum directly behind people who were just letting it all out.

As to the underwater cameras catching it - even if Olympic swimmers peed during their races, which they don't - there's just no way. The only way you can really tell if someone's peeing in the pool is if they announce it to you or they're really dehydrated/sitting in one spot while they go. It diffuses pretty quickly, and if you're moving, it diffuses even faster. (Never been in a pool where they use those chemicals that makes pee turn bright colors, but have always wondered...)

A recent survey conducted by the Water and Health Council showed that one in five adults admits to peeing in the pool. Unfortunately, it didn't break Olympians out into a separate category.

The CDC has long encouraged pre-swim practices, such as showers in order to reduce the risk of disease transfer and skin irritation.

"The pre-swim shower removes a lot of the sweat, cosmetics and urine that can mix with chlorine to create irritants in pool water," Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, told CBS in late May. "These irritants, not the chlorine itself, cause red eyes when we swim and the strong chemical smell of some pools."

(h/t Business Insider for the Quora find)

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