Fact or Myth: Wait 30 Minutes After Eating Before Swimming

This is MYTH.

It’s officially summer, and the weather is hot, hot, hot! The perfect weather for cooling off with a swim. But there are some summer health myths that need to be busted because they’re unnecessarily dampening our summer fun! One is the common rule most of our parents pounded in our heads: Wait 30 minutes after you eat before swimming!

This rule is completely unfounded. While drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury or death worldwide, there are no documented cases of anyone drowning due to eating before a swim. Your entire body isn’t going to cramp up and leave you incapable of staying afloat in the water!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 4000 people die annually from drowning, but the causes of these deaths are primarily due to three factors:

  • Lack of swimming ability
  • Lack of barriers surrounding the pool
  • Lack of supervision

Okay, Maybe You’ll Get a Cramp 

Young woman swimming laps in a swimming pool. Front crawl in a pool. Wearing bathing suit and cap and goggles.

The worse that can happen when you swim after eating is that you may get a stomach cramp. When we eat, the body sends blood to the stomach to aid in the digestive process. If you swim right after eating, then some of that blood redirects to the muscles, which may result in food digesting more slowly and some stomach cramping. If so, get out of the pool and chill out.

If you are a competitive athlete swimming the English Channel, then wait 30 minutes before you start the race. But experts concur that when it comes to recreational swimming, you have nothing to worry about. So indulge in some healthy summer snacks to give you fuel for the pool!