Swimmers at Mississippi Lake in Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Swimming After Eating? Linda Knight Seccaspina
Whenever we had a picnic near a lake as a child, we were told to never EVER go swimming for at least an hour. Bottom line was you were going to have cramps and die. There wasn’t a minute while parents were counting down on their watches that we did not mercilessly bug them. Each time I heard that particular ridiculous information, all I wanted to do was defy the whole big pile of bunk.
Who started all these myths, and why? It certainly wasn’t the Canadian Red Cross, except during our mandatory swimming lessons. Other than that there was no specific recommendations about waiting any amount of time after eating before taking a swim. It just seemed to be my Mother and her friends that had this information.
Once a month, on a Sunday, we used to drive down to St. Albans,Vermont for the day. After lunch, like clockwork, the whole “no swimming after eating for an hour” conversation began. I sat there quietly, waited for about ten minutes, and then told everyone I was going to gather shells by the water. My father was always too busy to notice, sitting on his lawn chair in bliss smoking his American Winston cigarettes and eating Wise Owl Potatoe Chips. In the distance, however, I heard my mother, the drill sergeant scream,
“Linda, don’t you dare go into that water! ”
When life gives you pineapples, you make pina coladas. Sporting a sinister smile, I knew I was going to defy the laws of nature that day. I would prove to the world this myth was wrong– for science. Truth be told, I was a little scared as I inched my toes into the water. Suddenly I was up to my ankles, and immediately felt a huge stomach pang. Maybe they were right, I thought, and backed out of the water quickly. Two inner voices started telling me what to do.
One said, “Go in!”
The other said, “You’re going to die!”
Ahh, to heck with it, and with that, I inched my way into the water up to my knees. Suddenly there was a huge commotion, and people were running towards me in the water. Good old Vermont 911 rescue was on the way for a young boy that was just inches away from me screaming in the water.
The roar of noisy moving water, and my mother “having a cow” in the distance, brought me back to the shore pretty darn quickly. The boy was carried out immediately, and people were saying it was probably because he went swimming right after eating. There was my mother, arms akimbo, with a stern look on her face and said,
“You see what happens if you go swimming after you eat?”
Since the kid’s family was eating next to our picnic table I think it was more the beans he ate with his sandwiches that caused his intestinal dilemma. I mean- a great healthy eating choice, but not for swimming horizontally. Well, whatever it was it deep ended him.
According to Snopes, I am debunking this myth right now. It’s actually a bit dramatic.You will not die if you go swimming right after lunch. You might throw up, but you won’t die. Now, maybe those egg salad sandwiches that fermented on the two hour drive down to St. Albans in the 90 degree weather might have killed us all. But it’s not the darn water.
Always remember there will be times in your life when things defy logic and seem crazy–especially to your mother. When that happens, listen to your instincts and ignore everyone and everything else–except for those warm egg salad sandwiches. Now that is an immediate death waiting to happen.
Good times everyone, and remember and remember, there is no graceful way to get on a pool float!