Fascinating Facts About Pools, Spas, Swimming and Safety

Just how many pools and hot tubs are in the United States? What percentage of the country's population goes swimming during a given year? And, for those who like to be informed or are germ-obsessed, which of those recreational water infections lurking in our waters is most prevalent?

We've compiled facts and statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (ASPS), and the United States Census Bureau to enlighten and address any questions you might have related to swimming, safety, and even pool construction. Arming yourself with knowledge will help in making smart decisions related to recreational water activities.

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How Many Pools Are in the United States?

aerial view near phoenix
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There are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States, according to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP).

As you can imagine this leaves thousands of possibilities for world records; From the largest wave pool to the deepest pool for diving.

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How Popular Is Swimming in the United States?

Man about to dive into swimming pool

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Swimming is the fourth most-popular sport or activity in the U.S. No. 1 is walking, while the No. 2 spot goes to exercising with equipment, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One of the many reasons people love to swim is because it's such a good exercise for weight loss.

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The Top 5 States for Above-Ground Pools

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While the portability of above-ground pools connects them with states in which owners use them solely during the summer, that's not always the case. The five states that report the highest number of above-ground pool sales and installations are:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
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The Top 5 States for Hot Tub Installations

man relaxing in hot tub

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Oh, those Californians with their neutral-toned fruitwood chairs and Sonoma County merlots. Of course, they'd be number one in the hot tub category. Here are the top five:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • New York
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The Top 5 States for In-Ground Pools

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It won't come as a surprise that sun-drenched and most populous states report the most in-ground swimming pool installations. The top five are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • New York
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How Many Adults and Kids Swim Annually?

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According to statistics, 36 percent of children aged 7 to 17 years, and 15 percent of adults go swimming at least six times annually in the United States.

Swimming isn't restricted to residential and public pools. About 91 million people over the age of 16 swim in oceans, lakes, and rivers each year in the United States.

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Kids and Teens

Teen girls in an infinity pool

Lisa Hallett Taylor

This may come as no surprise but swimming is the most popular recreational activity for children and teens (ages 7-17). 

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Water Safety Through Swim Lessons

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Swimming lessons aren't just "something to do" during the summer. The goal of lessons is to make children and adults safer in and around the water, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. Among the organization's findings:

  • In households with incomes of less than $50,000, 79 percent of children have minimal or no swimming ability.
  • An average of 10 people drown each day in the U.S.
  • Swimming lessons from a certified instructor, school, or organization reduce the incidence of childhood drownings by 88 percent.
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How Many Hot Tubs?

Relaxing in a Jacuzzi at a party.

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There are more than 7.3 million hot tubs in operation in the U.S., according to a study conducted by Pool and Spa Marketing. 

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Swimming With Diarrhea

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You may think that swimming with sharks poses a danger, but swimming with diarrhea can pose a real threat to those around you. So, if you're experiencing a bout of it, do everyone a favor and stay out of the pool until your tummy has resolved itself.

More than 1 in 5 (21.6 percent) of American adults aren't aware that swimming while sick with diarrhea can contaminate pool water and make other swimmers sick.

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How Many Spa Closures?

cast in hot tub from 'hot tub time machine'

About half (56.8 percent) of hot tubs and spas are in violation of local environmental health ordinances, and about 1 in 9 spas require immediate closure (11 percent), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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Beware the Crypto




Cryptosporidium (or Crypto) is an extremely chlorine-tolerant parasite that can survive in a properly chlorinated pool for 3.5 to 10.6 days.

  • Of 49 recreational water-associated outbreaks of gastroenteritis from 2009 to 2010, 55 percent were caused by Crypto. 
  • Of 57 gastroenteritis outbreaks associated with treated (for example, chlorinated) recreational water venues, 84 percent were caused by Crypto.
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How Long Does It Take for Chlorine to Destroy Germs in a Pool?

chlorine pool

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Chlorine kills most bacteria such as E. coli in about a minute if it is maintained at proper disinfection levels (1 to 3 parts per million [ppm] free chlorine) and under ideal water conditions (pH at 7.5 or less; temperature at 77 F/25 C or more) throughout the pool. However, a few germs are moderately (Giardia and Hepatitis A) to highly (Cryptosporidium) chlorine-tolerant.