I swim 3-4 times a week. Occasionally, much less often then ~1 year ago, I get extremely bloated after swimming. My stomach is completely full of air to the point that I can not stand up straight. It can hurt.

I'm trying to find the cause of this. I think it is either because I am not breathing correctly in the water (swallowing air as opposed to breathing air), or possibly due to something I've eaten earlier in the day.

I do not make a habit of swimming soon after I eat. My swims are a mix of easy, relaxed strokes up to anaerobic sets depending on the day.

** UPDATE ** I have adjusted my breathing pattern from breathing every third stroke (left, right, breathe on left, right, left, breath on right) to a 2-2-3 (left, breathe on right, left, breathe on right, left, right, breath on left, right breathe on left). This helps somewhat.

I have also started taking a Gas-X pill or two about 20-30 minutes prior to a hard workout set. This seems to be the best solution for me to eliminate discomfort after the swim. If I do get bloated from swallowing air, the Gas-X seems to help me get rid of it easier.

  • I'd be interested to know if you experience this while swimming in natural water. i.e. a river or lake.
    – BradH
    Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 22:18
  • @BradH. Hmmm... It is possible. I just raced last weekend in open water, and experienced some mild bloating shortly after on the bike. Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 1:25
  • @RyanMiller instead of updating your question, you should post that as an answer.
    – Baarn
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


Here is a very interesting thread for you where “Star Queen” explains how your breathing pattern during swimming can cause excess air to go into your stomach as you inhale. This can occur especially if you hold your breath followed by gasping or gulping for air, such as in turns and while pushing off the wall or when trying to increase your speed.

So the solution appears to be to correct your breathing pattern. When I taught swimming, I started the kids with blowing ping pong balls across the water and then progressed to blowing bubbles with their face in the water to learn to exhale thru the mouth as I was taught. The explanation I was given was that by blowing out thru the mouth as you exhale while your face is in the water, you empty your lungs so that when you turn your head to breathe in your lungs are ready for the inhalation. I also taught a rhythm of exhaling and inhaling to keep the breathing smooth and steady: exhale 1-2-3, inhale 4-5-6.

If that doesn’t help, you may want to check with a swim coach for better breathing instruction. Hope that helps.

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