Because drowning can occur in less than two minutes, swimming alone is never a good idea. It's common sense that you should never allow children to swim alone, but even if you're an adult and a strong swimmer, circumstances beyond your control can lead to a fatal consequence. While swimming is a fun activity, understanding water safety and avoiding dangerous situations when in the water is serious business.
Drinking and swimming don't mix. The World Health Organization notes that alcohol consumption is one of the leading contributory causes of adult drownings. Drinking can lead to reckless behavior including swimming in dangerous areas, going out too far -- and thinking that swimming alone is a great idea. Alcohol-related drownings can occur when other people are present, but having a lifeguard and/or rescue equipment available can save lives.
Drownings can also occur in pools if you're swimming alone. The strong suction of pool vents can entrap body parts or your hair. A vent’s suction is so powerful that it might pull you underwater and prevent you from getting out -- particularly if you're small. It's also possible to hit your head when swimming -- or diving -- alone in a pool, which can knock you unconscious and cause you to drown.
Lakes and Rivers
Lakes and rivers both pose problems to lone swimmers. It's difficult to tell how deep a lake is -- and it's easy to get in over your head. You can also get caught up in weeds and grasses. Both situations can lead a swimmer to panic -- and if no one is around, drowning can occur. Fast-flowing river water can knock you down -- and you can fall from sliding on slippery rocks. If you hit your head, drowning is a real possibility.
Swimming alone in the ocean is particularly dangerous due to strong currents, also called riptides. You can get dragged out far and without realizing it, may get out too far to make it back safely on your own. Rough waves can also knock you down or throw you against the rocks. Swimming with a buddy -- and with a lifeguard on duty -- can help ensure that you can get out of a dangerous situation.
Although going swimming soon after eating probably won’t cause cramping, cramping while swimming can stem from dehydration, electrolyte deficiencies or fatigue. If you get a painful leg or foot cramp when swimming in a lake or ocean, it can make swimming back to shore impossible -- which is why cramping is another good reason why it's important not to swim alone.
- KidsHealth: Swimming
- World Health Organization: Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments
- Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine: Alcohol and Other Risk Factors for Drowning among Male Active Duty U.S. Army Soldiers
- Mail Online: Girl, 7, Trapped Under Water When Hair is Sucked into Swimming Pool Vent is Only Saved After Great-Grandfather Yanks Clump from Her Scalp
- Mail Online: Girl, 13, Sucked to Her Death by Swimming Pool Circulation Pump after Workers Forgot to Replace Grille
- Wild Swimming: River Safety
- South Pacific Masters Association: How to stop cramping
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.