Letter: Play it safe when swimming

The Lima News recently printed an article from Mayo Clinic News Network. Ordinarily, I would not disagree with advice from the Mayo Clinic, but this time I must.

The article stated there is no scientific basis for waiting 30 to 60 minutes after eating before swimming.

Scientifically, Mayo clinic might not find a problem for swimming immediately after eating. However, after teaching swimming and lifesaving for more than 25 years and observing some near-drownings during decades around the water, I disagree. I can’t imagine anyone advising vigorous exercise immediately after a meal, and swimming is vigorous exercise.

The article also infers “you may end up with some stomach cramping or a muscle cramp, but this is not a dangerous activity to routinely enjoy. It may not be the most comfortable thing to go for a swim with a full belly, but the world won’t end if you ignore your mom’s advice and don’t wait 30 to 60 minutes after you eat to get back in the water.” Really?

Have you ever suffered a severe stomach cramp? More than one drowning has been blamed on a severe stomach cramp that can double you over and incapacitate your movements. Also, severe muscle cramps can deter your movements in the water.

Many years ago when I was taking my training in Red Cross Water Safety, my instructor, who had competed in the Olympics, told us of his best friend, also an Olympian, had drowned. It was believed he had suffered a severe cramp that incapacitated him. Unfortunately, he had been swimming alone with no one to help in an emergency. Our instructor repeated, time and time again, never, never swim alone.

Be on the safe side. Take some time after eating a meal before entering the water. And please, never, never swim alone…..

VaLaire Orchard, Lima

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