Log in
Asthma UK community forum
11,354 members17,607 posts

Asthma Attack whilst swimming

Hello everyone

The other week I went swimming with my closest friend from work when I had an asthma attack in the middle of the 25m pool. My friend had to go for my inhaler. So I was lucky to my friend Sue about who knew what to do.

I am a very strong swimmer but just lately I am becoming very short of breath whilst swimming and I am no longer able to swim like I used to. I really would like to be able to swim like I used to. It is very scary having an asthma attack whilst swimming.

Does anyone have any idea how I can control my asthma whilst swimming? I take my blue inhaler before swimming.


4 Replies

I love swimming and find it generally helps my asthma. However, I do notice that changes in the pool atmosphere, apparent amount of chlorine and pool temperature impact on how much I can manage. I've begun to be able to work out these factors alongside how my asthma is and adapt how much I push myself. Pacing myself my changing strokes regularly helps too.

I also keep my inhaler at the side of the pool because I often need it when swimming. I usually go to adult lanes so it's fine to keep it on the pool side (I keep in in an aquapak designed to keep mobiles safe by the water) but at another pool where there's kids, I ask the lifeguard to look after it.


Thanks for this post, I live near the olympics and we have been offer opportunites to swim,now, then and after.

I beleive it could gently exercise my lungs as I can't ran like I used too and walking is hard work. I don't know anyone who wants to swim so I will have to go alone. I was going to bring my inhaler at the pool side. I am short sighted too.

I am a beginner so don't plan to overdo it. So this post addressed a potential fear.



I used to competitive swim as a teenager and I used to take four intal rotacaps 15 minutes before swimming plus 2 puffs of ventolin. I also had another inhaler to use but off the top of my head can't remember the name. I also tried theophylamines as a preventative measure but they did not help. Plus whatever ventolin was needed during the session. Always had to warm up gently before getting into full swing with the training. I always found if I could not breathe properly doing freestyle doing back stroke helped until I got to the side of the pool to get my ventollin. If swimming for leisure make sure you give yourself enough time to recover from the attack. When competing I always found that once I had an attack I would have several during the session as did not get enough time to recover properly. The level of chloroaimes in the pool can act as an irritant to the lungs and cause an asthma attack. As a rule of thumb when you go into the pool there is a strong chlorine smell this is a good indication that the chloroamine levels in the water are high and that you will need to take prventative measures.


I used to be a competitive swimmer when I was a teenager too! I still swim now I find it good exercise, probably because it is a lot about technique! I can imagine it was really scary having an attack in the pool, luckily I seem to be worse after I have finished or later on in the day.

Ratty is so right- the chlorine levels and other things like temperature can make such a difference. If possible it might be worth trying out a few local pools in the area. There is a lovely open air pool near my parents where the water isn't treated with chlorine. Not sure whether open air would be so good for hayfever sufferers though.

I assume you take your blue inhaler 15 min before. It can so easy just to have a puff in the changing rooms just before you go in, and then it doesn't have time to work properly. I know some people have a couple of puffs 15 min before and then directly before. I use the symbicourt SMART regime and my consultant recommends having a puff of symbicourt before and after exercise NOT ventolin. It might be worth asking your doctor about whether you could do this?

As the others said you need to go really slowly. At first it will feel like you are going ridiculously slowly. Also if you normally do freestyle you should find it takes less effort if you use a pull boy.

Finally if you don't already do so it might be worth doing some strengthening exercises, maybe some light weights (or Barbie weights as I call them). The theory is that if you do some strengthening exercises your muscles will use oxygen more efficiently when you go swimming and this will be easier on the lungs.

Sorry for the essay and keep up the good work in the pool.



You may also like...