Swimming, rain or shine, will always be a great option. But before plunging into the water, for sure there are a few commonly repeated myths that keep on playing in your head, from folktales meant to mislead children to inaccurate “facts” you’re fond of hearing.
Now, let’s debunk some of the swimming misconceptions before they bring you harm or spoil the fun during your beach or pool resort getaway. Listed here are six common myths about swimming and the truths behind them which will encourage you to either plunge into the water or just stay on land.
1. “It’s okay to pee in a chlorinated pool. Chlorine will disinfect it.”
No, it’s never acceptable. Chlorine does a pretty good job in keeping the pool safe and clean by disinfecting it. However, chlorine doesn’t play nice with urine. The presence of urine and other human wastes not just destroy the functioning of chlorine but also result in chloramine, the chemical compound responsible for swimming-induced infection of the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.
Another myth to back up another myth is the stronger the smell of the chlorine, the cleaner and safer the swimming pool is. Wrong! The truth is, as chlorine levels go higher, the pool water becomes more toxic to humans. Pools that have a heavy chemical odor are often the result of over-chlorination or a negative chemical reaction (chloramine), which leaves you infected rather than protected.
2. “Your red eyes are caused by high chlorine levels”
While it’s true that over-chlorinating can cause irritation, the cause of your bloodshot eyes may be more disgusting. The sillier fact is it rhymes with chlorine. Yes, it’s urine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the real reason your eyes go red and itchy after swimming is not chlorine but urine. The human wastes in the pool, including urine bind with chlorine, creating a more dangerous chemical compound that causes the eyes to sting. You can avoid getting infected by wearing goggles and by showering thoroughly before and after you hit the pool.
3. “You have to wait 30 minutes to one hour after eating to swim”
As a child, have you been told that you can have cramps, or worse, drown if you swim right after eating? Sorry to all the parents who have been using this warning as a way of keeping the kids’ feet off the pool but this statement is a hoax.
Evidently, there’s no scientific research to back it up. The myth probably stems from the fact that your stomach pushes on your diaphragm after eating a large meal and makes you feel like you’re getting less air.
In contrary to the common misconception, you need a solid block of energy for you to have prolonged duration in the water. Swimming on an empty stomach can do more harm than good. In fact, most competitive swimmers eat a large meal right before they hit the pool so they can function well in the water.
4. “You can’t swim while on your period”
Ladies, I won’t really elaborate on this but yes, you can still swim while on your period. Just make sure you wear darker-colored swimsuit and shorts if you’re nervous about the leakage.
5. “You don’t need sunscreen in the water”
In contrary to the misconception, being around the water, whether it’s pool water or salt water, increases your need for protection from the sun. UV-B, which causes sunburns, is absorbed by water. The cooling effect of the water won’t save you from the sun’s harmful rays but otherwise, make you less aware of the heat of the sun.
The water can also magnify the sun’s rays and these rays can reflect off the surface and back onto your face, causing skin damage. You have to swim a few meters deeper for adequate protection. If snorkellers who can swim deeper to the surface can easily burn their backs, just imagine what the sun can do if you’re just swimming in a regular, shallow pool?
Always follow the application and reapplication instructions on your sunscreen when at the pool to avoid getting nasty sunburns.
6. “You must hold your breath underwater”
We all have been there – the silly game wherein we have to hold our breath underwater and the last person to pop his head out of the water shall be declared the winner. However, holding your breath might work against you when it comes to swimming.
Holding your breath underwater results in a buildup of carbon dioxide, promoting a gasping sensation. You should be constantly exhaling a steady stream of bubbles out of your mouth and nose underwater so when you come up to inhale, your lungs can quickly take in as much oxygen.
7. “I can’t swim – I’m a sinker, not a floater.”
Are you a sinker or a floater? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. The philosophy has been used for a long time as an excuse to avoid swimming and learning to work with water. Anyone can swim with persistence, practice, and positive state of mind.
According to Eric Hansen, the head swimming coach at the University of Wisconsin, most world-class swimmers could fall into the “sinkers” category due to their low body fat percentage. Body fat is rarely an asset in swimming. What you have to work on to achieve added buoyancy is your strength-to-weight ratio, technique, and ability to relax.
Despite her busy daily routine, Carmina Natividad still manages to find time for a little self-pampering. Aside from hitting the pool during the weekends, she also finds interest in writing articles focused on health and wellness. She is now one of the writers for Swimprint, a go-to shop for swimming enthusiasts in the UK.
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