Chlorine/Indoor pool/ Hot tub night before meet

We just got back from a very disappointing track meet.
My daughter, age 13, has been training all year long and making great improvements.
This weekend was her final meet, USATF Regional JO championships in Seattle.
We stayed at a motel, and made sure we found one with a pool, as the temps were supposed to be around a humid 95 degrees. Which, actually, it turned out to be a nice day.
My daughter was in the pool for about 2 hours, not doing alot, just mostly “hanging out”, and she spent about 1 hour in the hot tub.
The chlorine was somewhat strong.
My daughter got 8 hours sleep.
We got to the meet about 3 hours before she ran her 1st event, the 100 meter dash.
She ran her slowest time this year, about .5 seconds slower than the PR she had only a few weeks before.
My daughter was shocked when she seen her time after the race, she thought for sure she had a new PR, as she said she ran as hard as she could.
The next race was the 400 meters.
Even worse performance, she finished with a very strange 12 seconds slower than anything she has ran in 6 weeks! She has never ran this even near this slow.
Again, my daugher was bewildered when she saw her time…she said she ran so hard “my biceps and quads burned”.
At this point, I called the coach on my cell, as he was busy working the field during the meet and asked him what could be the problems, he could not help, I also asked the assistant coach the same, and he had no suggestions that fit the situation.
My daughter then readied for her last event, the 200 meter dash. I had brought an ice vest just in case it was extremely warm, so as to cool her core temp. before racing. She wore this for about 20 minutes before racing.
Again, she ran a full second slower than the PR she had just gotten a couple weeks ago…we were dumbfounded!
Shortly after the race, my daughter overheard the coaches daughter scolding some girls from another club, as they told her they had been swimming at a motel the night before.
I then asked both her and the assistant coach about this, and both assured me that that was what was wrong with my daughter.
I was told the the chlorine/heat from both the pool and hot tub removed electrolytes and dehydrated the body.
This all made sense, and my daughter said her body felt “extremely lethargic, and unmotivated” and she couldn’t understand why.
She also mentioned that after running both the 100 meter and 200 meter, that a couple other girls who had just ran, “freaked out” and wanted to know if she was ok, because they said she was breathing so loud while finishing the race, they thought she was having a heart attack.
My daughter thought that was funny, and reassured me her breathing was fine, and that she just didn’t have any energy.
My daughter did not over train or anything like that, in fact the 3 days before the meet, she only did warm ups.

Was it the chlorine and hot tub?

I’m confused and want to get to the bottom of this.


i doubt it was the chlorine! Swimmers are in it up to 4hrs per day!!
The Hot tub on the other hand - not only dehydrated, but could have Relaxed the tone in her muscles way too much - so she became too spongy.

The fact she felt it in her Quads and not her Hammies is bad - means her power was not there, she would have been landing too far in front of her center of gravity and not getting hip height, hence feeling it in her quads. Hence also why if her Tone was too low, she would have been to Spongy to correct it on race day.

Thats what i would “guess”

I’d agree with boldwarrior.
In fact, a hot tub would be my number one choice for lowering muscle tone. And running without any tone can be a nightmare.

Having a hot tub a day before racing causes minimal transient changes to the passive properties of skeletal muscle which will impair rate of force development, obviously short time intervals under heat won’t be significant.

May have been something she had consumed. So called “energy” bars/drinks/foods can make me feel downright lethargic at times.

You didnt know any better but you care so much this will guide you where you need to go.
I wouldnt worry about it too much. Maybe this lesson was important to learn now for results that will certainly come later on when your daughter runs in races as she matures.
It is well known that water is exhausting. Can be great for training to keep injuries at bay and lay in work for athletes to reduce wear and tear but never the day before a meet and two hours is crazy.
Hot tub just adds more heat to the fire.
Use the pool as a recovery tool.
For example I get my son in the pool especially in the past 2 months when he gets really wound up. Nothing like forgetting all your worries when you put two 11 year old boys in the pool to have some fun.
We stay at hotels before soccer tournaments and Charlie and I used to make sure James didnt go near it. Kinda harsh cause he is only 11 now but he didnt want to go anyway as it made his muscles feel weak.
YOU will do just fine because you love your daughter and you will find your way.

Thank you Angela for your words of wisdom and reassurance. This was a lesson learned and we now know what not to do in the future.
Thanks everyone for your posts.


I could not completely tell from your first post but did she just lounge around or actually do any swimming?

If so, it could represent, something very different if she does not typically swim that much if at all. If she was not accustomed to that type of exercise it represents throwing in an unstructured bout of training at the last second leading to potentially great fatigue-muscles used as they are not normally.

Actually, I was not clear about my daughters swimming.
She is not a very good swimmer, and she spent the whole time in the pool swimming back and forth, from one side to the other.
I previously posted that she was “hanging out” as she was with her Mother, as I was in the motel room taking a nap.
When she normally goes to the pool, she just stands around and talks to her friends, so I assumed that is what she did, until she told me later that she spent the time swimmng.

Sorry about not being clear


Your story takes me back to the time when I coached high school track and each year we went out of state for a big invitational track meet.

Since we did not do this very often the athletes loved to go on overnight trips for meets (for some their first ever trip out of town without their parents) and we often told them not to go in the pool. Even if they had no intention of swimming laps they might begin to play around in the pool and what started out as recreation turns into an unintended workout.

Hot water soaking of any sort is a sure fast recipe for disaster the night before a meet as is a deep massage (as I know).

We are going to try one more meet and see how her running is…without the pool and hot tub…


Carra Onley (no2 in NSW behind Jana Pittman at 16yr), used the Sauna and Spa bath at the gym one day before a matrix type workout. She only ever did it once, we had to stop the session because she was fatigued.

Angie hit the nail on the head, Charlie knew his stuff.

A person who is inefficient at swimming has to work harder in an aquatic environment. Their capacity for this kind of activity is significantly lower than a competent swimmer due to their stroke deficiencies. The amount of muscle recuited to swim inefficiently is very significant.

For the record, I would never allow my swimmers to spend time playing in the pool prior to a meet or between the heats and finals simply because it is work that is unnecessary prior to a performance(even if it is just play)

Meet week i would go no closer than 3 days out with a eplsom salt bath. Any thing closer and i get the gumby legs.

This is all great information, thank you!