Wave pools create waves in a pool, providing an experience similar to the ocean. They can be small or large, with different mechanisms to generate waves. Lifeguards are important for safety, and wave pools can help swimmers prepare for ocean waves.
A wave pool is a pool with a mechanism that creates waves in the water. The experience of being in a wave pool should be similar to swimming in the ocean. However, wave pools tend to have very regular waves with routine heights and predictable patterns, as opposed to the much less reliable ocean. This should be kept in mind when transitioning from swimming in a wave pool to swimming in the ocean. The first wave pools date back to the 1940s in the United States and the concept has since spread widely around the world.
Wave pools can be divided into small wave pools and large wave pools. Small wave pools have much smaller and gentler waves, making them suitable for children and the elderly, while large wave pools have larger waves that can be a little more dangerous. In both cases, a wave pool is less safe than a traditional pool, which means that having a lifeguard on duty is very important, to ensure first aid for any bathers in difficulty.
The mechanism for a small wave pool can work in several ways. One of the simplest is to simply direct a steady stream of air towards the water to generate ripples. Slightly larger waves can be created with the use of a paddle wheel or waterfall which churns the water, generating waves. The mechanism for the wave pool is often hidden within a water feature in the pool so swimmers are not endangered by moving parts.
In a large wave pool, the most effective way to create large waves is to simply dump a huge volume of water into one end of the pool. When water is poured into the pool, it displaces the water that was already there, creating waves. A channel running along the side of the tank collects the water, diverting it to a collection tank. Classically, the holding tank is designed to open when a certain water level is reached, starting the wave process all over again. Other large wave pools use accordion-like systems to create pressure, which generates waves.
Swimming in a wave pool can be fun and can even help people condition themselves. Waves create more drag than passive water, encouraging swimmers to work a little harder. A wave pool can also help a swimmer prepare for changing water levels in the ocean, as ocean waves can be disorienting to people who have never experienced them.