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Swimming Cramps: How To Cope & Hopefully Prevent Them

Learning Deal With Swimming Cramps

I haven’t found swimming cramps to be much of an issue when I’m teaching. This is possible because beginner swimmers tend not to be doing lots of laps. But as you start to swim more, sooner or later you will suffer from at least one of these. So get yourself prepared to cope.

In any situation, whether it is in the pool or a river or open water, the worst thing you can do if you get swimming cramps is to panic. People who panic die! They make strange decisions and do things that under normal circumstances they themselves would consider stupid. You have to find a way to calm yourself down.

Whilst most cramping pain is mild some can seem overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean that you have to yield to it. Calming down will help with the pain.

There are some things that you can do that will help to keep calm:

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Slow down or if it is bad enough to stop and go into a float. If you don’t know how to float you should not be out of your depth in the water.

Breathe normally but through the side of your mouth. You can’t do this whilst swimming however you can do this whilst floating. This action helps stimulate nerves that help to calm.

Image of a young woman standing on an yoga mat the beach, stretching out a cramp
Stretching out a cramp

From the float position, use whatever is not hurting to propel yourself to the nearest lane rope or shallow water where you can stand and recover.

There are some things that you can do to help prevent cramp though they will not guarantee that you won’t get it. Still, if you follow the advice you can be safe even if you do get it.


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