In his best-selling novel The Betsy, Harold Robbins included an ode to a portable Jacuzzi. "The water began to churn and sing its soothing song. I leaned my head back against the wall behind the tub and sighed." At the onset of Watergate, Richard Nixon installed a Jacuzzi tub in his White House bathroom. That tub has been inherited by Gerald Ford, who now has a second Jacuzzi in which to escape from the cares of state: the new swimming pool on the White House lawn has Jacuzzi inlets at the shallow end.
The physical and psychic benefits of whirlpool tend to get all mixed together, like so many of those exploding, dancing, bursting air bubbles. Take the case of people who use whirlpools primarily because aerating water exerts pressure against the body—six pounds per square inch—expecting to get "passive exercise" out of it. "You just sit there—the water does the swimming," is how Anthony Spas, a manufacturer, puts it. Dr. George Schroeter, a podiatrist, once claimed in a book called The Miracle Healing Power of Body Mechanics Therapy that half an hour in a whirlpool provides as much exercise as 18 holes of golf. If so, a 75-year-old Chicago widow named Pauline gets in 144 holes a day while wintering in Palm Springs; she spends four hours daily in the Sun-Spot Hotel's Jacuzzi, which is known as "Pauline's pool."
On the other hand, athletes ostensibly using whirlpools for physical therapy may really be soothing the savage breast. Running Back Ed Podolak of the Kansas City Chiefs immerses himself up to his shoulders in ice water for 10 minutes the first couple of days following a game, later in the week switching to hot whirlpool. Podolak's vision of everlasting bliss is one doubtlessly shared by many athletes. "When I finally get around to building a house for myself," Podolak confides, "I'm going to install a whirlpool. Every evening when I come home from work I'm going to open a beer. Then I'll lie in the whirlpool while I drink it."
The only question is whether Podolak, once his playing days are over, will break down and start referring to his cherished whirlpool as a Jacuzzi. It seems likely. And yet, when a fellow no longer has to worry about opposing linebackers—or the rubber duckies—who knows what might happen?