WASHINGTON – For some it might seem like a simple question. Going to the pool? Bring a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen.
But the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation has had enough problems with District residents not wearing appropriate swim attire that it recently issued a guide of what to wear.
“‘Street clothes’, Brazil/French-cut, thong style and/or revealing swim wear, cut- off jeans, jeans, skirts, shorts, sport bras, leotards, leggings, dri-fit wear, compression shorts and compression shirts are prohibited,” the DPR says in a statement.
“Underwear and undergarments are not allowed to be worn under swimsuits.”
DPR spokesman John Stokes says that because D.C. pools are free, they usually fill to capacity on hot summer days. Also, some residents make last-minute decisions to stop by without preparing for a day at the pool.
“They really want to know, ‘Why can’t I wear my cutoffs in the pool? Why can’t I just wear what I want to wear?'” Stokes says. “It can lead to being unsafe.”
With so many people coming together in one place, officials struggle to maintain strict health and safety standards.
The DPR’s recommendations are a way to reduce contaminants in the pool.
“Street clothes (especially cotton) can transport airborne and ultimately water-borne contaminants into the pool,” the guide reads.
“Cotton and similar materials can absorb the chemicals in the water, causing the water to become less effective at maintaining the proper chemical balance or may cloud the water.”
But in places like Alexandria, where both residents and non-residents have to pay an admission fee, inappropriate clothing attire is less of an issue.
“We’re a different type of community,” says Parks and Recreation spokesman David Miller.
“We haven’t had any reported issues.”
Miller says because residents have to plan around coming to the pool, they generally show up ready to swim.
D.C. put together its guide by researching 25 jurisdictions throughout the country. Prince George’s County inspired the graphic, Stokes says.
Signs and posters showing appropriate swimwear can be found throughout Prince George’s pools. Since officials started posting the illustrations, the county has seen a drop in people wearing street clothes at aquatic centers.
“We want to discourage people from wearing clothes they wear outside the facility in the water because you tend to pick up dirt and germs and other things we don’t want in the pool,” says aquatics director Tara Eggleston.
For a complete list of D.C. regulations, click here.