What Is It Like Swimming High / Stoned & Its Impact On Performance!

Everyone’s experience is different. For some swimming high/stoned is awesome. And, for others it makes them feel awkward in the water. 

So how does It Feel to swim while Stoned? Marijuana is a vasodilator. This means it widens the veins. These wider veins yield greater blood flow. This greater blood flow can have adverse effects on circulation.  And, those effects on circulation can affect swim performance but may result in an enhanced pleasurable experience and increased appetite. 

But how does swimming while high impact performance? There is no evidence to support that swimming while high/stoned has a positive effect on swim performance thereby making one a better swimmer or increasing their performance. In fact, studies show that marijuana impairs cognitive function, and long-term use has been linked to a decrease in response time, compromised executive function (a set of mental skills that includes memory, thinking, and self-control that one uses daily to learn, work and manage day-to-day life), and decreased eye control and movement

Also, marijuana typically increases one’s appetite and cravings for high-salt, high-sugar, and high-fat foods which will affect one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) as this ultimately replaces healthy calories with empty calories. The effect on BMI is typically negative (i.e. BMI increases) and in turn, swim performance declines. 

Ultimately though, this is a topic with very little supported research. Though instances of swimmers being under the influence of marijuana may be rising, science-backed evidence of marijuana’s effect on swimming is lacking. What we do know is everyone’s body will tolerate marijuana differently and therefore their experience swimming under its influence will be different. 

The thing regarding this particular topic is to be informed on the subject matter (this article aims to do just that) and know that swimming while high/stoned is something one ultimately does at their own risk. (Source)

Is There Such a Thing as Swimmer’s High? The Natural High!

Yes, however, this term has both a negative and a positive connotation, and which connotation it takes depends on the situation.  Here we will look at the negative connotation (we will look at the positive a little later in this article).  

In the negative sense, it can be described as a euphoric mix of pain, confusion, determination, and physical exertion that pushes the human body to its absolute limit. 

This euphoric feeling typically occurs with shallow water and/or underwater training and it can be deadly. While building stamina is a necessary part of any exercise or workout, when it comes to this negative euphoric feeling (a.k.a. swimmer’s high),  you want to be properly educated on the condition and its effects, know your own body and its limits, and train properly/safely. (Source

Why Do I Feel High After Swimming?

The reason for this high feeling after swimming has to do with science and hormones. When swimming the heart rate increases which in turn increases blood and oxygen flow. This increased blood and oxygen flow feeds the brain which helps with mental alertness, energy, and focus. It also releases endorphins as well as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin (a.k.a.  the “feel-good hormones” or “the quartet responsible for happiness”). 

The release of serotonin, in particular, plays a big part in helping to reduce stress and anxiety responses from the brain thus relaxing you and making you feel as if you are high. So, you feel high because, naturally speaking, you are. (Source A) (Source B

Here is a video for more on what happens to your body when swimming,

Do Swimmers Get Runner’s High? 

Swimmers can experience a similar effect as a runner’s high. In this sense, the Runner’s or Swimmer’s high is merely a release of endorphins which creates a positive feeling. While swimming, your body is constantly stretching, your breath and movements are rhythmic, and the water gentle ripples around you. All of these elements have a calming effect and reduce stress.

In addition to those physical elements at play, your brain is also releasing all the “happy hormones” that give you a positive feeling. The reduction in stress from the physical elements as well as the hormonal elements in conjunction with the calming effect and positive feeling is what is commonly known as a Swimmer’s high (much like what runners experience when running). 

So if you need a cheap and legal “fix”, try taking to the water for a swim. 

For more on this, we highly recommend that you check out our post How Do You Hit Swim, Bike Or Runner’s High? (What Actually Is It!)

Can You Get Addicted to Swimming ? 

One can get addicted to swimming, but it’s a good addiction! By definition addicted can simply mean “enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity” and addiction is “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity”. So, if one is enthusiastic about swimming and devoted to the sport, then by definition they are addicted and/or have an addiction [to swimming]. 

The same endorphins and other hormones mentioned throughout this article concerning swimmer’s high and what happens to the brain when swimming are the same hormones at play when it comes to addiction (so, quite literally, you can get addicted to nearly anything and nearly anything can be an addiction).

The good thing about a swimming addiction is it’s healthy and legal! 

What Does Swimming Do to Your Brain? 

Swimming has quite a positive effect on the brain. Swimming releases a rather high number of endorphins, those “feel good” hormones, creating  “nature’s high”.  The release of endorphins that comes from swimming has been shown to help in the treatment of depression as well as improve mental health in general. 

Swimming has also proven to convert stress inside the body into muscle relaxation which in turn yields a more relaxed individual.  And, studies have shown that swimming tough sets can promote the growth of new brain cells in the part of the brain that is destroyed by chronic stress and depression. 

Swimming has also been shown to increase communication between the two sides of the brain. This increased communication makes for increased cognition and easier learning. 

Lastly, swimming has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. This increased blood flow in conjunction with those endorphins acts as a mood booster and sharpens focus. The boost in mood and increase in focus is part of that natural “high” that some experience from swimming. Swimming makes your brain, in a single word, HAPPY.  (Source

Check out Why is Swimming and/or Hydrotherapy Often a Popular Choice for Physical Therapy?

Here is a video for more on Swimming mental health benefits,

Is Vaping Bad for Swimming ? 

The research on vaping is still minimal and the sports research regarding it is even less, so it’s hard to say for sure what effect vaping has on swimming. However, it is known that vaping increases heart rate and blood pressure which can lead to a greater risk of circulatory problems. These circulatory problems, in turn, can have an adverse effect on swim performance. 

Vaping is simply another way to inhale nicotine which we all know is highly addictive and has many negative effects on the cardiopulmonary system (heart and lungs). These negative effects on the cardiopulmonary system can result in decreased swim performance. 

While nicotine is the primary chemical inhaled when vaping, it is not the only chemical being inhaled as the cartridges themselves emit additional harmful chemicals and even release tiny metal particles. The harmful chemicals/substances and tiny pieces of metal can be irritants and can cause inflammation of blood vessels as well as other negative effects that can ultimately damage blood flow. Even small changes in blood vessels and blood flow can affect swimmers and their performance. 

Though the research regarding the direct correlation between vaping and swimming is minimal, vaping is known to have negative effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems (heart + blood vessels and lungs). Thus, it would be a logical deduction that vaping would be bad for swimming, or at a minimum, that one should probably hold off on combining the two activities until further research is done proving its effects, both harmless and harmful.  (Source A)  (Source B)  (Source C

Melissa Frank

My passion, outside of animals, is helping people and adding value to their lives…I strive to leave the world a little better than I woke to it each day. The first part of my career, for a total of about 15 years, was spent in the public safety field as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT-B and 9-1-1 Operator. In 2019 I obtained my personal trainer certification (ACE certified) as well as many group fitness certifications and certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

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