Our parents always told us, “Wait half an hour before you go swimming after lunch.” Some people will even wait for 30-60 minutes after a meal before taking a bath or going into the pool. The details of why this is bad are vague and varied, but most theories claim that you’ll get stomach cramps because swimming will divert the blood from the arms and legs to the stomach, and your muscles will not be able to work as usual. In any case, a full stomach will result in drowning.
A possible origin of the myth is the 1908 edition of the Boy Scouts handbook. According to the manual, people best avoid swimming after eating because active digestion competes with muscle exertion for oxygen and blood. But is this truly the case?
Medical experts say that this scenario is very unlikely. While it’s true that a full stomach does redirect some of the blood to the GI tract, not so much blood is rerouted that it would reduce the function of your extremities.
The worst thing you can expect is a minor muscle cramp, according to Duke Health. In fact, there are no reported drowning deaths attributed to recent meals. Moreover, many professional endurance swimmers will eat food while in the water to get more energy. Therefore, you needn’t worry, you won’t drown if you eat a light meal right before you go swimming.
So, you can eat and drink whatever you want before a swim?
You can eat whatever you’d like, yes. That being said, you may not want to eat too much, as doing any physical activity after a meal can feel uncomfortable. Thus, we’d advise that you keep the meal light.
As for beverages, there is a type of drink that you should always avoid before swimming - alcohol. The CDC points out that alcohol can increase your risk of drowning risk, so much so that 70 percent of all water recreation-related deaths are attributed to alcohol. So, please make sure to never drink and swim.
H/T: Mental Floss