We’ve all heard the same tale – many people believe that swimming right after a meal can make you more likely to drown. But is this true? Is eating before swimming dangerous? At Life Saver Pool Fence, we’re all about providing the cold hard facts about water safety. So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this old adage.

Is Eating Before Swimming Dangerous?

When you’re younger, one of the golden rules of pool safety was that you should always to wait 30 minutes before swimming. Well, you can stow that rule away with “stop making that funny face or it will stay that way” as well-meaning misinformation. It turns out, eating before swimming isn’t dangerous at all. Think of all those missed minutes in the pool!

What Does the Myth Claim?

First signs of this claim appeared in a Boy Scouts handbook in the early 1900s, which warned boys not to eat before swimming or else they could drown. Digestion requires extra blood in your digestive tract. Perpetrators of this myth believe that so much blood is diverted from your limbs to help digestion that your arms and legs become depleted. This lack of blood in your extremities causes them not to function properly, presenting a risk factor for drowning. The myth indicates that waiting 30 minutes will aid your digestion long enough for your body and full stomach to recuperate after a big meal.

The Truth About the Myth

In 2011, the American Red Cross conducted a “scientific advisory review” to assess the link between eating and drowning events based on a selection of respected health sources such as medical journals, Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After finding that no reported cases of drowning or near-drowning after eating were recorded by its sources, it concluded that “eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

While losing function in your limbs is not a concern, it is possible that you can get a mild cramp when you swim after eating. To avoid cramps in the pool, be sure to remain hydrated. This means drinking plenty of water. If you are using your swimming as a form of exercising, try a sports drink to keep blood sugar up. 

Don’t Drink (Alcohol) Before Swimming

While eating before swimming is perfectly fine, now is the perfect time to remind readers that drinking alcohol before (or during!) swimming really is a danger. Alcohol can impair your judgment and lead to poor decision-making. This presents a significant risk factor for drowning, even in hot tubs. Drinking may increase the possibility of a swimmer falling asleep, jumping into water that is too shallow or slipping on a wet surface in the pool area. Obviously, all of these are potentially dangerous circumstances.

So there you have it. Don’t miss out on that pool-time fun just because you decided to break for lunch. Instead, stay hydrated and avoid the alcohol!