Swimming is an overall great workout and a fantastic way to stay active. It has many benefits. Did you know that it’s often a great way to recover from recent injuries? Swimming is low impact, so it is easy on the joints, bones, and body, in general.
Swimming might seem like a fantastic way to spend and enjoy the hot summer days. However, swimming is not without its own drawbacks and hazards. There are certain inherent risks from spending too much time in the water, as well as other less-known issues that we may face due to what’s on the water.
We might not think about it too often, but a swim in the local pool or a quick dive in the ocean can sometimes lead to some unnecessary health-related experiences.
Every coin has its two sides, and here I’d like you to explore with me some of the most common risks and disadvantages of swimming. That way, you can be better informed and work on avoiding all these little health hazards from happening; most of these are easily preventable.
As one famous animated hero once said: “Knowing is half the battle. “- G.I. Joe
These are 15 disadvantages and risks of swimming.
1. Pools Have Chlorine
Chlorine is used in pools because it is a powerful disinfectant. Being exposed to high amounts of chlorine is not healthy as it can cause, among other conditions, headaches, dry skin, and eye irritation.
Wearing swimming goggles can help in preventing irritation of the eyes; however, your skin, hair, and ears will still be exposed to the effects of chlorine. Also, inhaling chlorine can cause respiratory problems, and it increases the risks of developing asthma.
2. Common Injuries
Another notable disadvantage of swimming is that swimmers are prone to specific injuries. This happens due to the high amount of repetitive movements during different strokes. The most common swimming injuries
- Shoulder injuries, tendinitis, and shoulder impingement.
- Knee injuries.
- Neck and low back injuries.
- Biceps tendinitis.
All of these can be caused by a combination of different things like:
- Lack of proper rest between swimming sessions.
- Bad stroke technique.
- Poor breathing technique.
- Poor conditioning and strength of the core, hips, and shoulders.
3. Undesired Weight Gain
Weight gain can be considered one of the less known disadvantages of swimming. It was discovered by scientists that swimming in colder, compared to warmer water, leads to higher levels of perceived hunger
This led the participants who swam in the colder water to consume as much as 44% more calories. This result was despite their caloric expenditure being relatively the same as the participants swimming in warmer water.
In another study, it was also concluded that swimmers tend to have higher amounts of adipose fat (in simple words is energy stored in the form of fat) than runners and bikers.
4. Risk of Drowning
If you’re just learning how to swim, swimming can seem extremely scary. And drowning is going to be the number one fear for every beginner.
Although swimming in a pool can be a lot safer, swimming in open waters (like the oceans, lakes, or rivers) can be quite dangerous. The danger comes from the currents and the lack of familiarity and experience with how underwater currents interact with our bodies.
When swimming in open waters, the currents are more dynamic and can pull us under the water; this is, especially dangerous for someone who doesn’t know how to swim.
Swimming is quite an intensive exercise that requires the use of all your major muscles. As a result, this causes you to sweat and lose fluids, just like other types of intense exercises. However, since you’re underwater, it’s hard to notice and feel that you’re sweating.
For most of us, it certainly is a strange thing, but make no mistake, you can get really dehydrated while swimming. This leads to loss and imbalance of electrolytes. And as you may know, a proper balance and amount of different electrolytes (such as magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride) are necessary for the healthy functioning of our bodies.
6. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections are another common disadvantage of swimming. A common type of fungal infection amongst swimmers is athlete’s foot; it is highly contagious, and it can spread quickly.
Another concern is the possibility of a yeast infection, especially for women, which is caused by a combination of swimming water, high humidity, and heat.
7. Bacterial Infections
Many different bacteria and pathogens can be found in the water. Even in the well-chlorinated pools, some bacteria can still survive.
A common bacterial infection is the swimmer’s ear. It usually develops when water stays in the ear canal for a long time. This gives bacteria a chance of developing, and as a result, infecting the skin of your ears.
8. Fatigue and Tiredness
People often complain about feeling quite tired and sleepy after spending some time in the water, especially in the ocean. There’re different theories on why this happens.
- It’s believed that sun exposure is a reason why people feel exhausted after swimming. A study found that people who spend long times outdoors, exposed to the sun tend to lower their cognitive functions temporarily
- Another theory is that swimming in cold waters causes us to spend more energy to maintain proper levels of body core temperature. Thus, making us more tired than usual.
- Also, it’s believed that many people tend to go for a swim early in the morning without getting a proper breakfast. As a result, swimming after a long period of fasting can be the reason why we experience fatigue afterward.
9. Polluted Water
A significant disadvantage of swimming, especially in lakes, rivers, or oceans, is the negative effect of doing it in polluted waters. There is always the risk of swimming in waters that are polluted with animal and human waste, trash, germs, and more
10. People Pee in the Pools
It is a well-known problem that a lot of people do pee in the water, and this can cause some health problems, too, like asthma and other respiratory problems. And if chlorine drops below certain levels, it might not provide adequate protection as a disinfectant.
11. Winter Swimming
Swimming in the winter, for many of us, is often out of the question. Especially swimming in oceans, rivers or lakes. Swimming in cold water can affect us in several dangerous ways. It can potentially cause:
- Sudden heart attack.
- Loss of capacity to swim.
As kids, one thing we’re told when going to the sea for the first time is to avoid drinking the water.
While we can consume small amounts of salt with our food, drinking the saltwater found in the seas and oceans is not the same. The salt content is a lot higher, and thus making it a lot more dangerous. High intake of salt water can cause different health issues, and drinking too much of it can be deadly.
Another risk of swimming is that you may experience cramps. They can happen due to three main reasons depending on your own frequency of swimming, lifestyle, and way of swimming.
It usually occurs because of:
- Loss of electrolytes and dehydration.
- Too much swimming.
- Lack of proper conditioning.
14. Bumping into Foreign Objects
Especially while swimming in open waters, it might be very easy to bump into different sorts of rocks and sea creatures.
For instance, sharks are a well-known danger that is present in most beachgoers’ psyche. However, there are other animals that although less dangerous can harm us, too, like jellyfish, crabs, and sea urchins, among other sea animals.
If you are swimming in shallow waters, it might be possible to hit your legs or
15. Sun Exposure
Last but definitely not least is the increased sun exposure while swimming. If you are swimming in an outdoor pool or in open waters, you’ll probably be under the sun most of the time.
Water will provide you with a cooling effect that will mask the fact that your skin is being subjected to the unrelenting sun rays. And this can lead to severe sunburns; not to mention the growing skin cancer cases.
This can be a big problem, especially for people with skin issues or very pale skin that is prone to burning quickly.