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How to avoid cramps while swimming

People who do not know how to swim properly may easily drown while swimming, but even a strong swimmer may be killed by a muscle cramp. Swimming cramps, especially when severe and encountered in deep water, have an uncanny ability to induce panic, which may lead to futile thrashing and drowning even if the swimmer knows how to deal with the cramp. Swimming cramps usually occur in the upper calf, just below the knee.

The best way to remove a cramp is to turn over face up, kick the cramped leg into the air in spite of the pain, and massage the cramp with one hand. It is useful to use the other two limbs to swim towards the shore, though this may not be possible.

Cramps are believed to be caused by indigestion, and by the over-exertion of under-used muscles. For the latter reason, an overly vigorous leg stroke is conducive to cramps.

See also: How to save a drowning person

The principal source of this page appears to be A Boy's Own Book of Outdoor Sports, author unknown, published in the early 1900s (exact publication date unknown, but definitely before 1923). The accuracy of the advice offered is therefore questionable.

External Links

These links discuss the belief that cramps may be caused by having eaten within an hour of going swimming.

Hour wait considered old wives' tale
Hour wait considered a good precaution