When I was a kid, nothing ruined a great day of swimming more than lunch time. That’s when the dreaded “wait an hour before you go back into the water” went into effect. Counting the ripples on an empty pool (or worse, watching other kids splash around) for a full hour was agonizing. It was just as agonizing as an adult, when I found out that the waiting was completely unnecessary. It’s now known that swimming after eating doesn’t increase your chance of drowning.
The myth of swimming after eating leading to drowning began from a basic fact of the digestion process. After eating, the body does focus more attention on the digestive system, sending more blood to the area to help the stomach and intestines break down the food. The thought was that, since the stomach area was receiving more blood flow, that the legs were being deprived of much needed blood. This would, theoretically, cause muscle cramping in a person’s legs. Suffering from a leg cramp while swimming (especially in deep water) could very well cause a person to drown. TriFactor adult swimming lessons provide knowledge that swimming will be good for the health of the person. A person can do swimming after half an hour of eating a meal.
The fact of the matter is, though, that the legs aren’t deprived of enough blood to make a difference. This is not to say that one will never get a leg cramp if he or she takes a swim shortly after eating. However, studies directly linking swimming on a full stomach to drowning deaths are not documented. In fact, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the Red Cross make any mention of waiting a specific period of time after eating before entering the water.
While the myth of waiting to swim after eating may have been debunked, there are still water safety tips that every parent should be aware of in order to keep their children (and themselves) safe in and around water. For instance, never leave a child unsupervised around water (even if he or she is an experienced swimmer). Know the importance of learning to swim. Lifejackets are great, but knowing what to do if you or your child is ever in trouble in the water is extremely valuable. Only swim in designated areas that are supervised by trained lifeguards. It is safest to always swim with a partner, but don’t use this to replace adult supervision in the water.
Although eating may not have an affect on swimming safely, alcohol certainly does. Alcohol negatively affects a person’s judgment, as well as coordination and balance. It can affect swimming skills, and has been directly linked to a large number of yearly drowning deaths. So if alcohol is on the menu, choose another activity to participate in besides swimming.
So, go ahead. Take a swim after you eat a burger. It’s not going to affect your chance of survival in the water. However, never forget that the water can be a potentially dangerous place. Take other water safety precautions mentioned above while swimming–they may just save a life.