“My Lungs Filling With Fluid”: Devastating Side Effects of Popular Swimming Style Come To Surface

Published 01/16/2023, 5:00 PM EST

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It’s been more than 200 years since Lord Byron swam across Hellespont (now Dardanelles) from Europe to Asia. Open Water Swimming has come a long way since then and is still very popular among the masses. It has made its way into the Olympics and will take place in the Seine, Paris, in 2024. But recent revelations in the medical field are also showing its potential side effects. While swimming is a healthy activity, the side effects are also unsurprisingly affecting the healthy ones. Here is more about the recent discovery.

In a recent article by Science Alert, doctors map out the details of the potential dangers of Open Water Swimming. A lung condition called SIPE is the biggest threat. Here’s what SIPE is all about, and its high-risk candidates.

The severity of SIPE from Open Water Swimming


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New research has brought out new evidence that links this outdoor sport with SIPE – Swimming-Induced Pulmonary Edema. As per Rebecca Dyer of Science Alert, “While swimming in a quarry at a night swim, I started to hyperventilate and realized I couldn’t swim any further”, unaware that she might’ve contracted the condition.


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She continued, “When I got out, I undid my wetsuit and immediately felt the sensation of my lungs filling with fluid. I started to cough and had a metallic taste in my mouth. When I got into the light, I could see my sputum was pink and frothy”. She could not understand the reason behind it.

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The hospital admitted her and diagnosed her with clinical tests, while her breathlessness continued. They observed her lungs and a chest X-ray confirmed the presence of fluid. After several days of treatment, her higher-than-usual troponin levels returned to normal and she was safe and discharged.

The early stage of the condition remains risky with Open Water Swimming


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This was one of the first cases of SIPE, but until further research, its true extent of damage couldn’t be fully known. Doctors have also said, “Recurrence is common and has been reported between 13 percent and 22 percent among scuba divers and swimmers”. They continued, “Patients should be appropriately informed regarding the high risk of recurrence, and following an initial episode, should be assumed to have a predisposition”.


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Although it’s not severe for everybody and not everyone requires hospitalization, SIPE is a growing concern. Both among medical professionals and health aficionados alike. Let’s hope for a cure-all treatment before next year’s Olympics.

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Written by:

Tanmay Roy


One take at a time

Tanmay Roy is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. He has done MBA and B.Tech in Civil Engineering.
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Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh