Once any hot tub has been filled, an imaginary clock begins ticking, counting down to the day when the water will have to be replaced.

It's a costly but necessary process — costly due to the expense of sewering the old water and buying new, heating it to a user-friendly temperature and filling it with sanitizer and (in some cases) appropriate supplements. And then there is the cost of labor.

It's necessary because spa water contains more than just water. It's a high-performance solvent for a diverse set of compounds — some of these enter the spa in the sourcewater, others are added intentionally in water care products and still others unintentionally when the human body slides below the surface and begins to release dead skin, sweat and other greasy substances into the surrounding medium.

Over time the soup becomes imperceptibly thicker. This occurs partly due to evaporation as individual H2O molecules become airborne, leaving impurities behind in an ever more concentrated solution. But the primary cause is that over time, more and more bathers leave behind their wastes, and more chemicals are added to maintain pH, ORP, etc., and these simply build up.

At some point, water quality becomes difficult to manage. Its chemistry becomes unresponsive — sort of like driving a vegetable truck. Specific problems crop up, letting you know it's time to drain.

Even at 100, still making a splash

from the richmond times-dispatch

After swimming the 50-meter freestyle Sunday morning, Marie Kelleher climbed out of the pool, posed for a few pictures — she was like a celebrity, so many people wanted to put their arms around her and smile for a camera — and eventually pulled on some dry clothes.

Once she had run the gauntlet of well-wishers, I asked if she felt good during the race.

"No," she said with a laugh, "but I finished."

Finish, she did — and set a national record, which is pretty much what she does every time she swims a race since she recently ascended into an age group where there isn't a lot of competition. She turned 100 in December.

Still, Sunday's swim at the steamy NOVA of Virginia Aquatic Center in the David Gregg III Memorial Meet, the Virginia Masters Swim Team's annual winter meet for swimmers ages 18 to 100-plus, was something of a milestone. It was Kelleher's first race since she turned 100, and also her first since she experienced what she discreetly referred to as "this problem."

By this problem, she meant a stroke, and I don't mean the butterfly.

After swimming one morning in early November, she was having breakfast when she discovered she couldn't pick up a spoon. She phoned one of her sons, and her speech was slurred, so he hustled to her Glen Allen home and took her to the hospital.

She was fortunate, she said, the stroke was a mild one.

Yes, It's Possible to Look Great in Swimwear


The weather is hardly inspiring us to consider beach-weather. And granted, excess winter podge looks it's absolute ghastliest in winter. But as this season's swimwear hits the shops, your choices are at their best now. Wait until the warm weather actually hits and you'll be left with a picked-over selection.

So, deep breath...let's do it. Here's how to choose swimwear like a pro:

A Natural First

by Jesse Dutra,

Natural swimming pools – those that use biological processes to treat water instead of standard sanitization – have been growing in popularity for more than two decades in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Now, these unusual pools have finally landed on U.S. soil. In this special project profile, Massachusetts landscape designer and pool builder Jesse Dutra describes the first natural swimming pool installed in the U.S. using a proprietary system developed by Munich, Germany's BioNova.

In an age where it seems that everything's been done before, it's not often you have the opportunity to be the first at something. Nonetheless, that was exactly the case for the project featured here.

It's what's known as a Natural Swimming Pool (NSP), a concept developed and popularized in Europe by the visionary firm BioNova, which has been successfully designing and promoting these pools for 25 years throughout much of Europe. The firm now has operations the world over, including a North American division based in New Jersey.

Like many landscape designers and pool builders, I've become interested in working with "sustainable environments," and a few years back decided to become a BioNova partner. That effort recently paid off with this beautiful project on Nantucket Island, Mass., the first pool built in the U.S. using the BioNova system.