This week's question is about rest periods or recesses at Korean pools. "
Swimmers in the water were asked, or so it seemed, to get out of the pool every hour or so, and the pool remained completely empty for a while. This seemed to repeat all afternoon."
This person must have spent a lot of time just sitting around watching the pool.
I've noticed the same thing. I guess it's fine if you arrive just as the rest period ends but it's darn annoying if you arrive fifteen minutes before it starts. Swim for fifteen minutes, get into a rhythm, then bam! Get out and sit around. Why?
The answer the Joongang gives is the same I've heard at many pools here.
...the recess is for health and safety reasons. A brief rest also can help prevent hypothermia among young children, who tend to stay for a prolonged period of time at play, and also prevent accidental drowning.
"Accidental drowning" Well, I might be curious about the 'accidental' part but I know that some (most of the ones I've visited, but that really isn't a significant number for the country)pools don't have lifeguards on deck much of the time. They sit in the lifeguard office most of the time, so far as I can tell. They are unlikely to be around during a 'deliberate' drowning and need to have the patrons rest because they aren't watching the patrons most of the time.
As for preventing hypothermia, I don't know. It was never an issue in Canadian pools but Koreans are delicate when it comes to hypothermia; witness the occurrence of fandeath here.
Again, if you arrive at exactly the right time, it's no problem. If you start swimming just before rest period, you can't convince the guards that you don't need a rest just yet. Actually, if I want to get a few more laps in, I just flip turn at the wall so they can't talk to me. I pretend I don't know what they're doing for a while.
While I was on vacation in Canada this summer, three or four people died from water-related accidents relatively near my home (nearby towns and districts, not neighbors). I hope to get some actually stats about watersafety here and from home to compare more than anecdotes from the two countries. Drownings don't make the news here so, for all I know, Koreans could have safe, boring swims interrupted every hour for a rest with hardly an accident to be found. Well, I'll be looking and hope to post on the subject in September.