You’ve seen the sign a thousand times: ‘No street shoes allowed on pool deck.’ To prevent dirt from being tracked into the pool area, most swimming pools require you to leave your regular shoes in the locker room. This means you need to change to pool sandals of some kind. You could go barefoot if it’s allowed, but pool footwear offers two important benefits (which is why it’s often required): safety and foot health.
The area at the edge of the pool is usually wet, of course, and whether the surface is cement or tile, it tends to get slippery, and that can be dangerous even if you always walk carefully. No one wants a cracked tailbone! Pool sandals can give you better grip on wet surfaces.
The other reason to wear footwear is to protect your feet from the bacteria and other microorganisms that love to grow in warm, damp environments like the grout around pool tiles. No matter how clean your pool looks, or how upscale the setting, there is likely some microscopic unpleasantness growing somewhere. It’s inevitable in a public space. Everyone knows about athlete’s foot (it got its name from its tendency to spread via locker rooms, after all), but you can pick up other conditions at the pool as well. Plantar warts, which are caused by a virus that generally invades the skin through small cuts and abrasions, and toenail fungus, a fungal infection underneath the surface of the nail that causes it to discolour, are both tenacious infections that can be contracted by walking barefoot in warm, moist environments. So wear your pool sandals in the shower and locker room as well as out by the pool! (Washing your feet with warm, soapy water and drying carefully between your toes will help too.)
What should you look for in a pool sandal? Good pool sandals will be comfortable (many are made of soft EVA material), dry quickly, provide traction on wet surfaces and feature drainage holes to channel the water away from your feet. Chlorine resistance is another plus.
At the pool you generally need more grip than stability, so slides and thongs (also called flip-flops), which are easy to slip on and off, tend to be the most popular styles of pool sandals. Arena offers a variety of designs for men, women and children, as well as unisex styles, including the best-selling (take a look here). Whatever option you choose, do make sure your sandals aren’t too loose. Good traction on the bottom is wasted if you’re sliding around inside the shoe!
To lengthen the life of your pool sandals, be sure to rinse them off and air-dry them after use. Don’t leave your wet sandals in a plastic bag or your pool bag, and don’t leave them lying out in the sun for long periods of time.
What’s your favourite style of pool sandal? Have you noticed any new footwear trends at your local pool?