Is it safe to swim after Thanksgiving dinner? No matter how you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this year, safety is our number one priority. Let’s face it: Thanksgiving tends to be a feast of foods, cocktails and merriment. If you live in a warmer climate, there’s even a good chance that your pool is still open. You may want to go for a relaxing swim after your big meal.

“Don’t Eat Before Swimming!”

For anyone who grew up with a backyard swimming pool, the fear of swimming on a full stomach reigns supreme. Many parents were quick to say that it’s not safe to swim unless you’ve waited for a bit for “your stomach to settle.” Otherwise you risked getting a cramp and possibly drowning. In most cases, the arbitrary suggested waiting time was 30 minutes or an hour.


Is this true? Well, not exactly. This claim seems to arrive courtesy of a Boy Scouts handbook from the early 1900s. According to the handbook, there isn’t a specified amount of time or reason for the danger. The handbook indicates that it is just not a good idea to go swimming after eating.

So Is It Safe to Swim After Thanksgiving Dinner?

Let’s take a closer look at this claim. Now, to be sure, there’s some common sense truth here. You should never hop in the water when you’re not feeling ready to swim. After a big meal, you may feel sluggish or tired.  Swimming is a healthy and low-impact exercise, but please remember that it is still exercise. Not paying proper attention to general water safety guidelines or swimming while under the weather can be dangerous. That said, it is not specifically dangerous to take a dip just because you’ve had a bite to eat.

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The Science Behind the Swim

Okay, so we’ve determined that it is likely safe to swim after Thanksgiving dinner, but what does the science say? Well, the American Red Cross conducted a “scientific advisory review” to take a closer look at the potential link between eating and drowning events. This was based on a selection of respected health sources such as medical journals, the Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Let’s start with the good news: the review found that were weren’t any cases of drowning or near-drowning after eating recorded by its sources. Therefore, the American Red Cross concludes that: “eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

“Eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

Don’t Cramp Your Style

Now that we’ve shared the good news, let’s delve a bit deeper. Although we’ve eliminated drowning as a result of swimming after eating as a myth, is there any reason to still be concerned or careful?

This is where cramps come it. To be fair to our parents, alongside the “don’t swim after eating” myth was “you’ll get a cramp.” This part is true – it is possible to get a cramp while swimming. However, this does not necessarily have anything to do with eating. Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll get a minor cramp due to dehydration.

So instead of worrying about the danger of a big meal, make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids. Water is best for this case. Be sure to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks.

Finally, one last note.  It is also possible that people may have several alcoholic drinks on Thanksgiving.  In this case, you should wait before swimming.  Make sure you never drink and swim. Mixing alcohol and swimming can be very dangerous. Many families drink a bit during holiday parties, but this can seriously affect your judgment in the water and your swimming ability. It is safe to swim after Thanksgiving dinner, but definitely not after a few cocktails. If you’re looking to relax in the water, please do so responsibly. We also recommend installing a pool safety fence to prevent accidental drownings.