When you’re in the pool, it can be difficult to tell what’s water and what’s sweat – or, frankly, if you’re even sweating at all. You know you’ve put in a good workout, but it can be strange to exert a lot of effort and not feel it in the same way you would do an outdoor run.
So do swimmers sweat?
Yes, swimmers can definitely sweat while swimming. Swimming is a high-intensity exercise and the body sweats as a way to cool itself. Swimmers are simply less likely to notice it because the water washes it away.
We’ll look at why swimmers sweat and what you can expect when swimming in different types of water.
Is It Normal to Be Hot After Swimming?
Swimming is a challenging exercise that requires a lot of exertion, which causes the body to heat up. This feeling is especially noticeable once you get out of the pool as you’re no longer being cooled off by the water. (Source)
If you take a warm shower after you swim, this will further increase your core body temperature, which can result in you feeling even warmer.
How Much Do Swimmers Sweat?
Swimmers generally sweat an average of .76L/h (liters per hour) and can be as low as .315L/h, but it can vary greatly based on a variety of factors. For example, swimmers were found to sweat an average of 1.07l/H in a 33 degree Celcius pool while those same athletes only sweat .455 L/h in a 29 degree Celcius pool (Source).
Interestingly, there may also be some evidence that regular swimmers sweat less overall than other athletes. For example, one study found that swimmers sweat an average of .9 L/h on a stationary bike test while runners doing the same test sweat 1.5 L/h.
The theory is that runners have adapted to sweat more in order to cool their bodies more efficiently while swimmers don’t require that same level of regulation due to being in the water.
Why Do I Feel Hot After Swimming?
It’s very common to feel hot after swimming, even if you didn’t put out a significant effort. In fact, you can even overheat from swimming. This is because the body will struggle to release enough heat through the skin (Source).
The ideal water temperature for swimming is 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, which may feel a little bit chilly for lap swimming, but your body will warm up as soon as it starts moving. You run the risk of overheating when the water temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signs of overheating:
Be very careful to watch out for these symptoms as they may be a sign that you’re moving towards severe hyperthermia. This is when the body reaches a temperature of 102 degrees. It’s caused by the body being unable to regulate its temperature.
Do You Sweat When You Swim in Cold Water?
Yes, one can sweat in cold water but it likely won’t be as much as you would in warmer water. However, the swimmer may experience what’s called the “after-drop” when partaking in the cold water swimming. This is because the body’s core temperature will continue to drop for about 30 to 45 minutes after swimming in cold water. (Source)
When you swim in cold water, your body reduces blood flow to the skin and limbs. Your core will stay warm but the rest of your body cools down. Once you exit the water, this ends, causing the cold blood from your limbs to mix with the warm blood of your core, which causes the core body temperature to drop.
This happens even if you’re in a warm environment after you swim – you won’t start to feel the shivers for 10 to 15 minutes after you get out of the water.
You can avoid the worst effects of the after-drop by getting dressed immediately after exiting the cold water.
Don’t shower right away as it’ll be too much of a shock to the system; instead, wait until you’ve had a chance to warm up naturally. Instead, you should drink something hot and eat some food. Always make sure you get out of the water before you start to feel cold.
Signs Swimmers Are Sweating in The Pool?
Yes, swimmers sweat in the pool, but they’re unlikely to really feel it as the water washes it away so quickly. So how can you tell if you’re sweating?
- First, heavy breathing is a strong sign that you’re sweating. This is a common technique for your body to regulate its temperature.
- A second sign that you’re sweating is if you’re feeling warm. This can be a bit difficult to feel if you’re in cool water, but generally, if you feel warmer than when you started, that’s a good sign that you’re sweating.
- A third sign is thirst, though it should be avoided. Getting thirsty is a sign that you haven’t been hydrating enough, so make sure you drink enough water and electrolytes. It is possible to be dehydrated while swimming.
Do You Absorb Water While Swimming?
No, people don’t absorb water while swimming. Some people find that swimming triggers a strong urge to pee, and it can feel like it’s due to “absorbing” water (after all, it’s not like you’re drinking water while swimming). However, this is a natural reaction to have in the water and it’s called mammalian drive reflex (MDR) (Source).
Because we use our lungs to breathe – as opposed to gills on the body like fish – our bodies have become great at adapting to the water. Our bodies become ultra-efficient, especially when swimming in water that’s colder than our core body temperature, in order to survive.
This means the blood vessels in the extremities shrink in order to serve more oxygenated blood to the vital organs. Ultimately, the volume of blood in the heart increases.
Because the body needs to regulate blood volume, this change signals to the brain that there’s too much water, resulting in the urge to pee as a way to draw water away from the body.
Just because you don’t feel like you’re sweating doesn’t mean you aren’t. Swimming is still an aerobic exercise, which means you need to take the same precautions you would for any other type of endurance activity.
Make sure you’re fueling properly and drinking adequate water before, during, and after your workout. This will help make sure you don’t risk being under-fueled or dehydrated.