From the 1930s through the 1950s water safety experts believed swimming after eating would lead to stomach cramps that would double you over in agony, causing you to sink like a stone. This was thought to be a leading cause of drowning. As late as 1956 the Red Cross water safety manual devoted several pages to the topic complete with staged photo of a gasping “victim.” That same year, however, University of Georgia swim coach B.W. Gabrielsen published a book called ‘Facts on Drowning Accidents’ that revealed that swimming after eating was implicated in fewer than 1 percent of drownings. Thereafter the wait-an-hour hysteria began to subside. It’s now thought stomach cramps are rare. It still isn’t a good idea to do strenuous swimming right after eating lest you exhaust yourself. But a quick dip in the pool after dinner is harmless.
Last modified: June 2, 2008