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Don't Eat And Swim

"But most importantly, after you eat, wait three full days, get a complete physical, have an ear candling, and press UP, A and START before re-entering the pool."
Strong Bad, on pool safety

Let's say you're going swimming at the beach or pool, when suddenly, hunger strikes. After eating, you jump into the water, but experience a stomach or muscle cramp, causing you to struggle to stay afloat. If you're really unlucky, you might drown.

Looks like you should have waited at least 30 minutes or an hour after eating!

This is an old wives' tale that has long been debunked. While swimming cramps are not rare, and stomach cramps caused by the direction of oxygen away from the stomach muscles are debatable, there have been no reported cases of drownings or near-drownings from them. Why the stomach would be so sensitive to post-meal cramps when you're swimming, yet fail to suffer them if you're exercising out of the water, is never explained.

The best thing to do in the event of a cramp suffered while swimming is to relax and tense the affected muscle, or stay afloat until help arrives. Otherwise, feel free to satisfy your cravings by the water.

Examples:

Advertising
  • A Slim Jim commercial featured a man eating the product, then jumping into the pool. The personification of the Slim Jim (now in his stomach) tells the swimmer that he should have waited it out, causing both to suffer the consequences.

Comic Books
  • This happened to Wally Walrus in an issue of the Andy Panda comic book.

Film
  • In The Princess Bride, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie warn Indigo not to let Westley go swimming for an hour after he takes the ressurecting pill of life. Never mind that he's mostly paralyzed for the rest of the day.
  • Lampshaded in Ice Age: Continental Drift, where Sid begs a kangaroo not to throw him overboard since he had to wait an hour before swimming since he ate recently.
    Sid: What, you want me to walk into the water? I can't because I ate less than twenty minutes ago and you know the rule!
    Raz: (Crossly) That's a myth!
    Sid: (Uneasily) Oh, okay...as long as it's safe.

Literature
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Aunt Josephine tells the Baudelaries that they must wait one hour after eating before swimming in Lake Lachrymose. Klaus initially assumes it's because of cramps, but Josephine informs him that it's actually because of the lake's carnivorous leeches.
  • A Tale of Time City: Jonathan and Sam's parents hold them to this during the picnic at the lake.

Live-Action TV
  • Adam and Jamie on MythBusters debunked this, as well.
  • Same with Penn & Teller: Bullshit!.
  • An episode of Small Wonder had Ted stage his own drowning by cramps to get rid of his Nosy Neighbor's alleged life debt.
  • Exaggerated in a The State sketch. Someone at a barbecue goes swimming and gets a cramp. One after another, everyone at the party jumps in to save the drowning people and gets a cramp.
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, a character mistakenly thinks this applies to having sex after eating.

Newspaper Comics
  • The Far Side had a young snake with a large lump in his belly attempt to go swimming at the beach. His mother tells him to wait a whole week before going in.

Western Animation
  • On Tiny Toon Adventures, Calamity Coyote works as a lifeguard at a pool. After he sees Hamton eat something and try to get in, Calamity warns him (with a sign) to wait 30 minutes. Hamton shrugs it off, and as soon as he dips his toe in the pool, he gets cramps all over and falls in.
  • In the Goofy cartoon "How to Swim", Goofy's changing cabin falls into the water while he's inside and ends up walking out, setting up a picnic area and eating a full meal without being aware that he's underwater. The narrator points out the rule of waiting before eating and warning about cramps, which appear as knots all over Goofy's limbs and body.
  • In one 'Magnificent Muttley' segment Dastardly orders Muttley to clean the pool since he wants to go swimming after lunch. He never gets into the water though as he gets bounced repeatedly between the two-level diving board.

Cool Clear WaterInstant Index Just Add WaterDown LA Drain
Dodge the BulletJustForFun/Tropes Examined by the Myth BustersElevator Failure

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