I am feeling very thirsty while swimming.
I have an event(3/4 Ironman), next month, which requires me to swim 3000 m in the first leg.
But the problem with me is that I drink water every 500 m while I train, due to thirst.
Yesterday while I trained, I drank a sip after the first 400 m and took a sip after every 800 m. The total distance I swam was 3.5 km.
I take breathe every alternate stroke and that is what I have planned to do during the event.

How to prevent this? I want to swim 3000 m without stopping. I am capable of swimming non-stop except for the thirst.


1 Answer 1


Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

If you are properly hydrated before you start, and its not a physiological need to drink there isn't much you can do. One thing I would suggest is if you are hydrated but feeling thirsty, in or out of the pool, speak with a doctor as extreme thirst can be a symptom of some serious disorders including diabetes.

If however you are hydrated, and don't normally feel thirsty during other training, I would seriously approach this like any normal training regime. Start where you are now and look to swim for longer periods of time without drinking. Even if its just, 400m, pause no drink, 200m pause drink, building up your time between drinks will help.

With regards to cramping, this again comes down to the source of your thirst and how you manage it. If you are physiologically thirsty, then lack of salt and such is going to be a problem you need to manage. You also need to recognise that you'll be losing less water via sweating through a swim leg than you would over an equivlient length run or cycle.

However, you mentioned that you need to drink every 500m due to feelings of thirst. This is the analogous to someone needing to drink every kilometer of a run. While it may make you more comfortable, I think you'll that unless there is an underlying health issue as mentioned in the first sentence, you should be able to build up to being able to safely swim for 3km in competition as long as you properly hydrate before and after a session.

  • Thank you +1 for a quick and a good suggestion. So you mean to say that the build up of distance between sips of water will help me? But I am afraid it may lead to cramps for that long distances. What do you say for this? Edit your answer in reply.
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 13, 2013 at 4:11
  • @Freakyuser - Cramping is a fitness issue, not a hydration/electrolyte issue.
    – JohnP
    Jun 13, 2013 at 14:06
  • @JohnP I heard from someone that cramp is the result of the following, 1) poor blood circulation, 2) less water content, 3) less body salt. Am I wrong in this phenomenon?
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 13, 2013 at 14:09
  • 2
    @Freakyuser - Cramps are still mostly a mystery. One of the primary current suspects is problems in the calcium channels of nerve impulse conduction. There are some people that swear by salt tablets, others it does nothing for. There have been a couple recent Australian studies that show salt supplementation made no difference in plasma sodium levels in IM athletes. Most (if not all) cramping is due to overexerting compared to fitness level.
    – JohnP
    Jun 13, 2013 at 14:24
  • 1
    Thank you, building up of time between drinks definitely helped me. I swam 2900 m without a stop in 61 mins. No cramps, not much thirst. Although, accidentally I drank the pool water, at times, due to collisions with fellow swimmers.
    – Freakyuser
    Sep 3, 2013 at 6:57

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