24 Hour Swim in the Pool

lexlomaxlexlomax Member
edited March 2012 in General Discussion
I am planning a 24 hour non stop swim in the pool (50m). Wanted to draw on the experience of you guys:
1. Has anyone done this before? If so, what was it like?
2. What should I do to prepare mentally for the boredom and general mental fatigue? What can i do to distract myself from the mind numbing boredom? Will I have trouble staying awake?
3. What sort of nutritional considerations should I consider?
4. I can comfortably swim 8 hours straight in the pool and looking to do the 24 your swim 11 months from now. Is my goal realistic?


  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I've done 24 miles in 24 hours, doing 1 mile then getting out for remainder of hour. Topped out at 40k. I did it in a no-chlorine pool which was the main reason I survived it. People attempting it in chlorinated indoor pools had much more difficulty.

    1: It was tough, especially the small hours. And I was resting every hour.

    2: You need to schedule swim partners through the period. Asking about boredom is a red flag for me. Most marathon swimmers have strategies for this and don't think about too much.

    3: You can't shouldn't it on pure carbs alone because of the heated water. You'll need solids. This is a big subject, difficult to answer in brief, experience in feeding over long periods of time, your own preferacnes and tolerances are very very important.

    4: The biggest problem is chlorine. If you are doing this in a chlorinated pool you might finish it, I'd never say no, but you'll be taking a risk with your respiratory system which will be under a huge load. You can probably expect to get sick, get asthma like symptoms, maybe unable to breathe and maybe have to abandon.


  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    Please tell me you're scheduling bathroom breaks.
  • Thanks Loneswimmer--excellent advice. Particularly about clorine. I am in Melbourne and there are pools that are a mixture of clorine and salt water which are also outside (ie uncovered by a roof). Do you think this will be enough to prevent the effects of the clorine?

    The swim itself is part of an organsied team event with other swimmers in the lane who rotate through different legs. Rules dictate that the swimming must be continious, without a break...not a problem when you are part of a team, as you can tag team and continue an unbroken swim. When you swam, did you feel like you could have done the whole thing without a break?

    Re boredom...don't have any issues per se, just have not done more than 8 hours and kind of assumed I would start having issues with mental fatigue. Will do a 12-15 hour swim and test myself out before comitting.

    Re: food...good tip with solids. Do you have some examples that you ate? Presumably you ate banannas as part of this?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Yes, an outside pool will make a difference, and will any lowering of chlorine. I'd ask for a view of the chlorine levels log if I was you. They should have no problem showing you once you explain. Most chlorine effects though as the the THM gases which are inhaled from a thin layer right above the water, but being outside there's a better chance they will dispersed by breezes.

    I couldn't have done 24 hours straight that time, not least because at the time I hadn't trained for that. Assuming training done, I'd say possibly yes (for myself). Around here you'll find all the experienced people saying it will be more a mental than a physical task. Boredom isn't a problem on open water swims, pools are different, so I just don't know.

    No, I generally avoid bananas myself when swimming, too likely for me to cause sickness (though I like them other times). If it was me, I'd use fruit & oat smoothies, (not everyone will agree with this because of the fructose), maybe pasta, berries & grapes, sandwiches, and if at all possible, porridge, during the event If you go all liquid you might have "digestive transit" problems.


  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    I think that Yuko Matsusaki did it years ago, but others would know.
  • PabloPablo Member
    I'm doing a 12 hour night pool swim Friday, I'll let you know my thoughts after.
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    I have done a 24-hour swim in a 25m outdoor pool in training for the Channel, and raised $8,000 in the process for the Forever Fund! Reason I am saying this, is that it breaks up the monotony of "swimming the treadmill" for a whole day when you have people along for the journey; plus why not do it to raise money for charity!
    We set up two lanes; one for me, and the other for people to come, and donate money to swim for an hour with me. I took half-hour breaks (to simulate a channel swim) and just kept all of my food in the deep-end (some at the shallow end) of the pool where someone would feed me from the diving board (again, to simulate a feeding by not being able to touch the bottom of the pool) It turned out to be an awesome experience, and I highly recommend giving it a shot... does A LOT for building mental toughness, as it is a rough go to flip turn about a million times!

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    If you "Google around" a bit, you will find a number of these swims in Europe. There are also a number of videos for same on YouTube and other places. There was to be a 24 hr race two years ago in Mass (the "Nare Diem" - "swim the day") , but it got cancelled. Here's the original announcement on USMS: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=15760


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • PabloPablo Member
    The swim went well—we covered 44,000 yards in a 25 yard pool. The mental aspect of the swim was the toughest challenge. All my thoughts were on the goals that will follow the 12-hour swim. I spent the first 5 to 6 hours thinking this year I might have bitten off more than I can chew. Then around 8 hours I realized I only have 4 hours left and that is a Saturday morning swim for me. I can do those with no problem. That got me to thinking about how I built up to 4 hours, 5 hours, and 7.5 hours and now it was 12. Everything comes together when you break it down and rebuild it systematically. If I can build a twelve hour swim, I can build an 18 hour swim, a 24 hour swim and eventually a 45 hour swim. When I stopped thinking about the big picture and focused on the part I was building the next thing I knew I was done.

    The rest is monitoring how much goes in to how much goes out. If you stay on top of that formula it will come together. If you lose sight of the math that relates to input/output you could find yourself in trouble. 24 hours is a long time to find out you miss calculated your math.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Well done @Pablo, that's one hell of a training session. Did you break it down by sets, or by time, or did you just break when you felt like it? I'm also curious about your nutrition strategy for something like this (unless it's a trade secret!).
  • PabloPablo Member
    No secrets, I ate 4500 calories, which doesn’t seem like much, but I use a new product called Generation UCAN. It’s what they term a "super starch". It was originally used medically to treat babies that can't convert glucose into glycogen in the liver. With this product these kids are surviving. As I understand it has a high molecular weight so it breaks down slowly and trickles into your system. This causes your system to burn fat. For us that’s a good thing. If interested they are offering a 10% discount if you use the coupon code UCANCORTEZ in the shopping cart on their website www.generationucan.com/store. Your purchase will also benefit the swim I’m training for this year (sorry for the sales pitch, but the stuff works).

    We stopped every 20 minutes for about 1 to 2 min. Jamie Patrick turned me on to the shorter intervals. It seems to work better for the 24+ hour swims. I was pleased with the whole swim. Other than being sleepy I felt strong when I was done. The next day I swam 3k and felt fine. Today I’m back in the weight room and pool with minimal fatigue. Obviously I am scaling it back, but over all very pleased.
  • Thanks all for your comments and advice. Am going to do a half marathon in the pool in 3 weeks and if all goes well, follow that with a 12 hour swim to test everything out. :-)
  • HaydnHaydn Member
    I did a 24 hour hour pool swim. The swim held no surprises at all. Just the expected boredom, tiredness, aches and pains. The chlorine was another matter. Not so much of breathing it off the water level. But after around 12 hours, I began to realise my sense of touch seemed very sensitive when running my hands through my hair during my hourly feeds. At the time I put it down to the softness of my finger tips, all puffy and wrinkly. My supporters on the pool side new the truth.

    As I ran my fingers through my hair, they knew my hair was falling out. It had thinned greatly, and I was feeling the difference. By the end of the swim, my hair had virtually all gone. What remained was very fine and downy and had coiled into tiny wisps. It had also gone green.

    I only became aware of it after the swim, whilst in the shower as I pulled my trunks off. It was as if I was 12 again. All the fine hairs all over my body were burnt away. My underarm hair was also gone and the hair on my head (once dry) looked as though I was having chemotherapy. I also noticed my mouth seem very tender.

    My doctor was very interested and took loads of photos as he was once a competitive swimmer and studied swimming medical problems as a professional hobby.

    My hair grew back normally but seemed darker.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    Haydn, that's freakin' scary.

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

  • Just completed my 12 hour stint in the pool today...approx 38k. I know these little swims dont even make it on the radar on this forum, however would like to know how people recover post swim on the long stuff. Eg food and nutrition, rest, colds and sickness aviodance, and when i should get back in the pool again? Any tips for a novice kindly welcomed. :-)
  • A 12 hour swim is a long way, that's more than I've ever done in a pool. Most of the literature I read when I was swimming said that the best time to reload your body with carbs was within 2 hours of finishing. After 2 hours, the body wouldn't absorb the carbs as readily. I used to drink about 30 ounces of a high carb drink (30-40 grams per 8 ounces which is more carbs than used for normal feeds during a swim) and then try to eat a eat a meal within 2 hours. I never wanted to drink the high carb stuff because after a long day of feeds, it wasn't very appealing, but I would tell my crew person to make me do it. I would try to get in the pool the day after a long swim just to loosen up. The great thing about swimming is you can swim REALLY SLOW, so a recovery swim of 200-500 just to get the muscles moving is possible. Usually on day 2 after a long swim, I would be the most sore.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    12 hours in the pool isn't a little swim. I've never made it past 9.5 hrs continuous swim. The more I do long pool swims though, (winter/spring only) the easier the recovery gets. I'll be aiming for November for a 4 to 5 hours one but doing little swimming at the moment.

    It's more important to get protein than carbs in shortly afterwards, but a carb/protein ratio makes metabolizing the protein easier. I usually use a recovery shake for pool swims of 5 hour or over (never use them otherwise).

    I always swim the next day, 1.5 to 3k. Also, I regularly find I don't sleep well the night after a long pool swim, depending on how my feeding went or if I used more malto. I'll feel ok after only a couple of days but my ability to push in training will take 5 to 7 days to return.


  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited October 2012
    You can't shouldn't it on pure carbs alone because of the heated water. You'll need solids.

    Err... what? @loneswimmer, can you explain more about carbs and heated water?

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited October 2012
    Apart from my garbled english, what I meant was, if you go for a more liquid based feed for a long time in the pool, you could into "digestive-transit" problems. That will certainly mean even more urination, to the extent that it'll interfere with your swimming if you get get out to do so, or even possibly mild diarrhoea that you wouldn't get from carb feeds in cold water, though that's an individual thing. I find long pool swims go much better on solid food. Though I would not be too surprised to find some people using liquid carbs, almost all of the Sandycove swimmers prefer solids for long pool swims.


  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    When I do long pool swims I have to make sure I have had solid food leading up to the swim. If it's all liquid inside, I get nauseous from doing flip turns.
  • squalosqualo Member
    edited March 2016

    I stumbled across your site by accident. People were asking about the feeling of swimming 24 hours. I did 2 of them in 1976 establishing the world record at 83.7 km (CMAS-FIPS) and 1978 (77.9 because of tendentious problems).

    In 1976 I was 15 years old and the Italian swimming federation did not want me to participate because I was too young. After some extensive stress-tests performed by doctors from the federation, I was cleared to go with 5 other athletes (50 mt indoor pool). Up until that time I never swam more than 12 km in a single practice and definitely never swam in the night (my biggest concern).

    The race started at 18:30 on a saturday: water at 35 celsius! By midnight I was 700 mt behind the record holder and by 1:00AM I was 100 mt ahead of him. From this time on I kept increasing the lead and broke the old WR 20:45 into the swim. At that point I felt like coming out, but the regulation forces you to continue to swim until the end (we were allowed a total of 3x 15 min. massage breaks in the shallow water, otherwise it had to be continuos motion). My skin was very swollen and the body started to shiver around this time. During the race I shed 7 kg and I was already at 3.4% body fat. Diet was primarily liquid vitamins, bananas, coffee, dark chocolate, raw equine meat and dextrose. We were given pills to stop bowl movements and we would just urinate in the water when necessary.

    My recovery was tough as the very next day I passed out while standing and going to the bathroom...heart rate in the upper 80s low 90s. My 100 fly time 2 weeks later (in a race) 6 second slower than usual !

    The hardest portion of the race is mental. How to overcome pain and monotony. Staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool is not at all entertaining and even the band by the poolside after a while was almost annoying (the organizing committee had different events taking place during the race which attracted over 7000 spectators).

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    squalo said:
    Diet was primarily liquid vitamins, bananas, coffee, dark chocolate, raw equine meat and dextrose.

    Vitamins . . . Check!

    Bananas . . . Check!

    Coffee . . . Check!

    Chocolate . . . Check!

    Raw horse meat . . . Wait. What?!


    "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..."

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    @Spacemanspiff, come on by my house. We have horse sausage, horse steak, and can get raw horse meat for you if needed. We also have fermented mare's milk, komuz. (Which is now my family's standard for comparing disgusting things. "Well, it's better than komuz!")


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

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber

    OMG.. I can not even begin to imagine RACING for 24 hours.. and please do explain the horse meat ( raw? ) and "pills to stop bowel movements.. if you had 3x 15 min massage breaks.. couldn't you have used the toilet then?
    Very curious to hear more... and what if, anything are you doing now??
    I hope it didn't put you off swimming.

  • Raw horse meat....oh my...
    What is the official world solo 24 hour record? Can't seem to find anything via Google

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaSenior Member
    edited November 2020

    Hi! Yesterday I finished my first (and in the next 20 years probably "my only" :smile: ) 24 hours swim pool.
    Due to Covid conditions it was very difficult to organize anything.
    We (me and my friends Mihai and Andrei) found a club that was going to allow us in their 25m indoors pool.
    We discussed we are interested to fundraise and that we are on a look out for a cause and they told us they have two children 10 and 12 yrs old sisters in the weightlifting team that do not have family/material support. So fundraising for the girl (we met them in person, two wonderful kids) was our objective.

    The swim started this Saturday at 2PM and finished Sunday at the same time.
    The most challenging part has been between 1 AM and 5 AM, when we could not listen to our minds.
    Because it was indoors and 25m long, the swim was rather boring and I could not de-connect my mind before every next turn. Also from chlorine, my face burned and i had difficulties breathing.

    We took breaks, swimming intervals between 400m and 1k with few minutes in between, once in 2-3 hours we would take some snack and around 5-6 hours a larger meal (pasta, macaroni etc.). Tried twice to take a nap and I couldn't.

    It has been a great experience, I swam 50kms, but as some other 24hr/swim pool fellows say - you need a big objective/ motivation, otherwise it's just pointless and unsafe.

  • BogdanZ congrats!
    Unbeliv! Swim24h in 25mpool!
    Just u and few friends!
    Health and luck

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaSenior Member

    @Openh2o said:
    BogdanZ congrats!

    Thank you @Openh2o .
    It was an interesting adventure, I would say .. where the body has proven to be a very complex "animal" :))) . We went from enthusiasm to suffering at 3 AM and to explosion of feelings starting with the sunrise until the end. I tried to temper the pace above 1:45 per 100ms, at 3 AM I was like 2 mins per 100ms and at 23 hours I was 1:39 per 100 ms.. very strange. The first hours I started on a wrong foot with gels and ISO and for about 18 hrs after I did not touch any gel or ISO dring, only BCAA, salts, 2 times ibuprofen, snacks, meals, water. It has been my first swim/ sport activity when immediate sugars were not helping/ needed and rely more on digestion results.
    This is Strava for first 23 hours.

  • BogdqnZ
    Yestarday and today i have free days! I go swim from joy!
    And think for u! U unbeliv 24h swim 25m pool!
    I swim 25m too.yestarday 10km.today 7km!
    I th8nk i can swim on primavista.20km! Total! Maybe 5 or 6h no more!
    U achivmannn is unreal for me!
    Sey me somthing: how long u plan that crazy one time swim?

    I will try on my next free time do 20km swim on 25m pool!
    But i dont know when be that!
    No prepared for swim! Will be extreme for me and my shoulder!)))
    20km for 2020!)))
    All the best crazy man!

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaSenior Member

    @Openh2o you might laugh, but I haven't specifically trained for it.
    The usual 4-5 swims per week with no more than 18kms per week.
    During the swim I took breaks - like 1 minute in between 400meters swim, and snack at 1/2 hour or bigger meal at aprx. 5 hours. There have been a lot of moments not spent swimming, so it's not like an unassisted marathon swim in open water. I just searched for my optimal position, with less impact on shoulders; I haven't push too hard at the wall and so on.. so it was only patience at an "infinite pace" with some breaks.
    I do not recommend the 24hr, just for fun, because it left for some days face skin burn from chlorine and a bit irritated throat/ breathing.

  • BogdanZ
    U my man for crazy 2020!
    Wish u all the best and health!
    Happy holidays and will drink one more vodka for u brave swimmer!)

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