Swimming with a cold

RoelRoel Boxtel, the NetherlandsMember
edited April 2017 in General Discussion

Dear swimmers,

It's that time of year again: the last week I have had a terrible cold. My nose is completely plugged up, throat is raw and I am short of breath, breathing heavy even sitting behind the computer.

I do not have a fever, so technically I can do sports, however, the prospect of being in water strugling for air is not really welcoming.

What do you do in such a situation? Suck it up and go swimming anyway, do some alternative excercise, having a restweek?

love to hear from you

ps, did use the search, but apparently "cold" is a word used pretty often around here ;)



  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member



    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Depends. Last year, I got the flu and didn't swim if I had a fever. Then when I began to feel better but still not 100 percent, I got restless and wanted to be back in masters practice. Fever had gone down but I still got set back,and was out of swimming another wk or so. So not the best outcome of toughie it out , but I get why it's tempting. Some gentle yoga helped me and just walking, then easy swimming. Hope you feel better soon!

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    My problem with colds is not the cold itself, but the post-cold respiratory infection for which I have an exceptional proclivity (near 100%). The cold is over is a couple of days, but the infection can last for weeks. Swimming is the best solution for this. I don't think there is anything better for clearing out my chest than swimming 6-7 days a week. If I can swim during the cold, I do. The important thing for me, though, is to get in the water as soon as it is possible.


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • It's a common sense call, surely.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I do both, depending on how I feel. If it's a nasty cold and all I want is to sleep, I sleep. If it's not so bad, and I'm feeling restless, then I swim. If I get to the pool and I feel awful after 1000 yards, I get out. If I feel like swimming 6,000 yards with snot hanging out my nose the entire time, I do that, too. Really, just do what your body feels like. :-)

  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member

    In my opinion – and it is just an opinion – it depends what you are swimming for. When I have a reasonably big swim on the distant horizon, I try to swim through colds. And watch the pace clock even more than usual to try to keep the proper pace. The swims wear me out a lot more and the colds last longer, but I believe the extra work to keep pace while sick makes me better prepared. If I have a swim on the near horizon, I rest – trying to shake the cold before the swim.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin

    Spacemanspiff said:
    My problem with colds is not the cold itself, but the post-cold respiratory infection for which I have an exceptional proclivity (near 100%). The cold is over is a couple of days, but the infection can last for weeks. Swimming is the best solution for this.

    I have the same propensity, though I came to the opposite conclusion. In my case it's only the combination of head cold and swimming that produces the sinus infection. If I stay out of the water for a couple days to let the cold clear up.... no sinus infection.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited February 2016

    I routinely swim with nose clips during chlorine season. For me, it's not about not inhaling water though my nose, but rather minimizing the way that chlorine seems to irritate my nasal passages. Once nasal passages become irritated and inflamed, I think viruses and the like 'stick' more easily. Perhaps the inflammation increases the surface area, which makes it easier for viruses to latch on? (If this starts to sound like a good reason for nose 'grease' be forewarned: vaseline inside your nose apparently causes microparticles to land in your lungs, which was extra Not Good for some reason I'm forgetting.)

    One doctor gave me a recipe for making my own saline solution (salt plus baking soda? or was it baking powder?), and suggested that I squirt it into my nose four times a day. That seemed to help me a lot as well. The doctor's line to me was something like "When you have a party, you can't turn guests away, but you can help them leave by showing them the door." Ha. I had no idea what he was talking about, but he went on to suggest that I should get less sick if the viruses spend less time in my nose.

    Vicks inhalers, or one of their more natural cousins, can be helpful. Their effect can be powerfully mimicked by placing a drop of peppermint essential oil on a Q-tip and then lightly swabbing the outside of your nostrils. This will cause rapid vasoconstriction which will essentially squeeze a lot of mucus out of your nose -- or at least, that's what I think it's doing. @Chris_OD can surely explain more/better/accurately. :) But be forewarned that this can be painful and disgusting. :)

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    It was baking soda. I think my Dr. said 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. I usually just eyeball it into a plastic baggie, then mix with warm water as needed. If it feels harsh, add more water.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • RoelRoel Boxtel, the NetherlandsMember

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone!

    Today I had technique practice so I went swimming for the first time since almost two weeks. I decided to wait for the cold to lie down.

    I LOVE being in the water again

  • LouisMLouisM Dublin, IrelandMember

    I agree with what WarmWater said, it's a common sense call. If I know I'm going to do more harm than good by swimming I'll wait until I have recovered

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