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Crocs in the Pool

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

No, not crocodiles.

I'm talking about Crocs, the funky foam footwear that was fashionable a couple of years ago and now remains so mostly among little kids...who are apparently wearing their Crocs into swimming pools. On purpose. With their parents' permission.

The summer swim season may be winding down, but one of this summer's controversies has yet to be resolved. As this much-blogged-about article in the Chicago Tribune notes, kids wearing Crocs in the pool may be dragging all kinds of dirt and germs in with them, unless of course they've worn the shoes while taking their required pre-swim shower.

Some parents say the Crocs don't add any more contaminants to pool water than kids' bare feet do. But pool-keepers think they place an added burden on the filtration and chemical systems that keep pools clean and safe for swimming, leading many to forbid footwear (other than specially designed swim shoes) in public pools.

Health concerns aside, it seems reasonable to tell kids we just don't wear shoes in the pool. Period.

My own kids have worn Crocs while wading the shores of rocky, shell-strewn beaches. That's different: The shoes protect their feet against cuts. But if one of them jumped in our backyard pool with Crocs on, I'd make them hop right out and take off their shoes.

What about you? Do you think Crocs in the pool pose a health hazard? Or do you think that theory, like Crocs, is full of holes?

Share your observations, and don't forget to vote in the poll!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  August 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health  
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I highly doubt that the pre-swim shower removes that much dirt or many germs, especially with little kids. Let's face it, you go into a public pool, there will be germs and dirt in the water. And somebody (not always a kid) will be p!ssing in it. You want to enjoy swimming, you have to get past that yuck factor.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 17, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Okay, so Crocs are unfashionable now. But they're a boon to certain kinds of old feet, like mine.

Actually, I don't wear the brand Crocs -- I wear another, much better-looking (and somewhat cheaper) foam shoe from Land's End.

Posted by: Krisipuu | August 17, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

My 2 year old son wears his Crocs as his swim shoes. We got them when he outgrew his "specially designed" swim shoes, because there is essentially no difference. If the swim shoes are allowed, then the Crocs should be as well.

If these are Crocs that get worn every day, I might see the point in banning them, though it's still arguable that it's a safety issue. I'd rather have lifeguards keeping kids safe from drowning than have them scrutinizing shoes to figure out which are every day Crocs and which are only used as water shoes.

Posted by: BurninNation | August 17, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

People are shockingly lackadaisical about basic hygienic considerations at the pool. The "mandatory" shower is more often than not skipped, or, at best, a 5-second splash-and-dash.

At many pools in Western Europe, I've seen 10-foot-long disinfecting footbaths that you *had* to wade through on your way out of the locker room. It made a ton of sense. I've never seen anything like that in the US.

Posted by: DupontJay | August 17, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

How about option c: We don't know whether wearing crocs increases the amount of bacteria or other contaminants in chlorinated or brominated pool water, but it might be worth finding out. Why speculate?

Posted by: kickabout | August 17, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Better to be safe than sorry. Worried about swine flu? My daughter learned this great program at pre-school called Germy Wormy Germ Smart. It teaches kids to understand how germs spread and how to NOT spread them. The website speaks for itself:

Posted by: breehill9 | August 17, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I can go for shoes in lakes and oceans where bad stuff might be underneath you, but why in a pool?

You can't swim very well with shoes on. Is this a work-around so kids who are iffy on swimming can stay upright in semi-shallow water and avoid a mouthful of water?

I say - teach your kid to swim instead.

Posted by: RedBird27 | August 18, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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