Swimming Temperatures


I designed this graphic specifically for my lifeguards and swimming instructors at all six of Virginia’s 4-H Centers. As the aquatics consultant for the state, I am constantly forwarding research and information from the American Red Cross to the Centers, but am not guaranteed that they are actually reading the hefty memorandums. Because water temperatures have changed recently (2012) and I have received reports of hypothermic swimmers, I decided that this information needed to be simplified and made visual. I chose to keep it in the same triad color scheme – turquoise, orange/yellow, and red – as is found at almost every pool and in American Red Cross literature. This should automatically signal to aquatics employees that this is about aquatic safety.

The goal of the large fonts and thermometer and swimmer graphics was to give the viewer a quick reference for the information – the ages and abilities are reflected in the art. You can look at it and gauge an appropriate temperature for each of the classes that day. I placed the actual guidelines below the large labels in a smaller font so that they do not take up too much of the graphics. To add interest, I placed the thermometer in the waves of the image and sorted the formal classes taught at our pools on the left and the informal trainings and workouts on the right.

Too often instructors and guards allow swimming when the composite (air + water) temperature is appropriate but the water temperature is well below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I started the temperatures on the thermometer at 70 specifically for that reason – I wanted the viewer to see the space between the lowest advised temperature and 70 degrees. Likewise I spaced out the 80 and 90 degree points specifically to show that the range is primarily between those temperatures.

The main message I wanted to get across was that aquatics can be fun as long as it is safe. I used a lot of blue, images of happy participants, and smooth waves in the water to convey the safety found in appropriate temperatures. I wanted to imply that it is actually easy to know when the temperature is correct, so I made sure the specific science and the references were present on the page but not overpowering.  I felt that the thermometer, as a vertical line, called attention to the important factors of temperature and having the important information in red makes sure that my instructors are ready to teach!

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