Sunday, July 29, 2018

Reminiscing: Wait 30 Minutes Or You'll Drown

It’s summer, and that means pools, beaches, and swimming. With the utter lack of rain and the intense heat so far, this season is shaping up to be an epic one regarding swimming. I’ve been suckered into one pool party already, and I’m sure there are more happening. Meanwhile, the girls have been all over the place at pool parties.

At the one party that we did go to, the discussion arose among the parents about certain adages that we grew up with. Do we still follow the “Half-Hour Rule” after eating? The consensus was no. It seemed like we were completely ignoring everything our parents had told us when we were kids. Were we testing Fate by not heeding those warnings? It took every ounce of self control not to yell to the kids to wait the requisite half hour.

Some of the warnings about swimming too quickly after eating was that we’d sink to the bottom of the pool after passing out from blood pressure. Apparently, your body needed extra blood to digest the food and couldn’t supply enough to the stomach and to your arms and legs. Or the pressure of the water would squeeze your stomach to the point that you threw up all grandma’s macaroni salad before it was totally digested. There may be a touch of truth to vomiting, but it’s not swimming, per say, that causes it.

As far back as 1908, this myth had legs. In an issue of Scouting for Boys, they warned: “First there is the danger of cramp. If you bathe within the first hour and a half after taking a meal, before your food is digested, you are very likely to get a cramp. Cramp doubles you up in severe pain so that you cannot move your arms or legs -- and down you go. You may drown -- and it will be your own fault.” Wow. Talk about scary. That’s scary than my mom or my grandmother or aunts warning us of swimming too quickly.

Any vigorous activity after eating increases the likelihood of throwing up, not just swimming. That’s why you shouldn’t stop at Five Guys on the way to the gym. Sure, it may work out in your head that you’re working off the splurge of fast food by going to the gym, but it’s bound to cause serious discomfort.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Red Cross, there is minimal, if any, dangers to swimming right after eating. They don’t even offer any guidelines regarding eating and swimming. Maybe mom was wrong?

So, what did we do instead? We could sit around and relax before heading back to the water. Sometimes, we were told to do laps around the pool or the yard before getting back to swimming. We were told it would settle our stomach enough to lower the thirty minute regulation. Amazingly, that was probably the dumbest thing we could have done. That vigorous exercise so soon after eating was more likely to cause us to be sick that simply getting into the water again.

Of course, the other saying that used to drive me crazy was “Stop making that face or your face will freeze like that.” That’s one of those adages that I swore I would never say. That lasted until I had a petulant teenager. (Well, two actually, with a third right on their heels.) I’ve said it a few times. I think we all know that our face won’t freeze that way. But honestly, it’s really annoying to see that pouty, teenage face every time they walk by you in the house, or you see others out in the world. Listen, your world really isn’t that bad. Just wait until you have to pay bills, not hang out with your friends so you can work to pay those bills, or until you have teenagers of your own with the same pout. It’s the parent’s who should really have that look plastered across their visages each day.

There were plenty of other sayings our parents and grandparents told us. “You better tuck in that lip before a bird lands on it, or a fly poops on it.” (Do flies even poop? They walk in it for sure. Eww.) “If you had a brain you’d be dangerous.” This one is even more relevant with the rise of smart-phone zombification. How many times has your kid walked into something because they were too engrossed in their electronic device?

The biggest one of all time? “Because I said so.” There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s simple. Don’t ask questions.

Craig Bacon still believes in the 30-Minute Rule for Swimming. Because I said so.