How Dangerous Is Swimming After Eating?

It is a well worn saying, and one that your parents no doubt told you when you were a child, that you shouldn't eat before swimming. As children, when our parents told us this, we probably just took their word as read simply because, as children, we are p

It is a well worn saying, and one that your parents no doubt told you when you were a child, that you shouldn't eat before swimming. As children, when our parents told us this, we probably just took their word as read simply because, as children, we are programmed to believe what our parents tell us. The truth is though, there is nothing wrong with going swimming after eating.

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 There is no evidence that normal swimming after normal eating will put you at any risk. Even to this day, some pools still have notices warning patrons about the risks of swimming after eating even though it is just not true. The idea behind the popular injuction against swimming after eating is that your limbs would have insufficient blood because the blood was being diverted from other muscles and directed to the stomach to help the digestion of the food. Because of the lack of blood to other muscles, or so they say, it will lead to the swimmer suffering more from cramp.

Or in the simplest way of looking at it, the weight of your stomach would sink you!

You will have noticed above the mention of 'normal' eating and 'normal' swimming. If you overeat before swimming it may well result in a stitch in the side or a feeling of nausea, but that is not something that would only happen if you went swimming; any type of physical exertion may lead to the same thing happening, even if it was just reaching for the remote control to change the TV channel. There is nothing intrinsically dangerous about the combination of food and water. In fact, the opposite is worse! Weakness caused by fasting or dehydration caused by not drinking would put a swimmer more at risk than eating beforehand ever could.

According to statistics, swimming pools are not particularly dangerous places and you are more likely to injure yourself from chopping vegetables, walking the dog or even taking off your socks. Having said that, it is estimated that there are somewhere in the region of 10,000 injuries reported in the UK each year from swimming pools, (Just shows how many people must get injured taking off their socks!) but most of those have nothing to do with whether the person ate before they swam.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has given the best advice to 'avoid' accidents - use common sense. There is much truth in that! Where there isn't truth though is when someone tells you you shouldn't swim just after eating!

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