Need a reality check for competitive swimmers.  My daughter stops her delivery 1 hour prior to swimming to cope with intensive workouts.  Sometimes she gets low and checks her BG during a workout.  The coaches think she is "missing too much practice" since she has to check her BG "at least once per week" (actually it's more).  I think they are ignorant of this disease and she should check NIGHTLY during practice (1 1/2 hours) to ensure stability.

Are the expectations of the coaches realistic to think someone with diabetes can do intensive swimming for 1 1 /2 hours to 2 hours without checking in? Or am I correct in thinking that my daughter SHOULD check during each practice.  It takes about a 50 to check her BG.

[quote user="ALRossi"]Are the expectations of the coaches realistic to think someone with diabetes can do intensive swimming for 1 1 /2 hours to 2 hours without checking in? Or am I correct in thinking that my daughter SHOULD check during each practice.  It takes about a 50 to check her BG.[/quote]

She definitely SHOULD be checking her BG during practice.  I check mine every half hour when I swim.  I was in competitive swimming up until college, but I didn't get diagnosed with diabetes until my second year of University.  I still lane swim and I stop and check my blood sugar often.  Have you tried having a meeting with the coaches to explain Type 1 and the reasons why she needs to check her sugar and the consequences of not?  If they still don't respond well to this, 50m is like nothing!  They should be more concerned about the health of their athlete and not the lengths she missed. 

Sorry I'm getting into this so late.

They are being totally unrealistic, but they are ignorant. You and your daughter need to set their expectations appropriately.

Tell them that they need to make sure she checks before entering the water.

And they need to have a scheduled blood sugar test for her at 45 minutes.

And they need to understand that she will also need to be able to stop and check any time during practice if she doesn't feel right, with no repercussions. It is not a mistake for her to check her blood sugar and find out it is fine. It is a learning experience.

She needs guidelines on what to do at different blood sugar levels at each of these tests. Sometimes she may just have to break off her training sessions if she's too low.

Here's a quote from an interview with Gary Hall, Jr.:


Q: How do you accommodate diabetes and how has it affected your swimming?

I train eight hours a day, with four practices. My mornings include dry land exercise, such as jumping, running, medicine balls, followed by swimming practice. In the afternoon, I lift weights and swim. As I get closer to the meet, I won't train as much, because it is exhausting and I want to have the energy to race well.

I do have better control, but some of the problems come with the training. There's the inconvenience of being interrupted during long swimming practices—I'll have to go out and test my blood sugar and make sure that I'm not going too low. Sometimes I'll have to eat something in the middle of practice. I just have to be constantly aware of my diabetes. When I'm practicing for eight hours a day, that often means I have to get out and check my blood sugar.



Varying accounts of Jay Cutler say that he tests "about 3 or 4" times a game, or "up to 6" times a game.

Your daughter is training to swim in school meets. It's not like she isn't stopping and starting all day.


Thank you Heather and Jerry.  Your answers validated the responses from other athletes and CDEs including Gary Hall, who was most gracious to answer me directly. 

We have been following a protocol for the last 5 years of year-round swimming where my daughter reduces her basal rates to -0- at one and one half hours prior to practice, and hope she doesn't get low.  Instead of a reactive protocol, we need a proactive protocol where she checks in at 45 minute intervals. (This is the time interval that Mr. Hall uses, not that she is swimming 8 hours per day at that level!) Regular checks during a workout should keep her from getting low!

You'd think after 11 years with this disease that we would understand these issues, but we're never too experienced to learn. I presume this protocol should apply to any intensive sport.

We will meet with the coaches in the fall and alert them to a new protocol. Will follow up at this post to let you know how it goes.  We have to keep educating coaches as to the dangers of hypoglycemia and the importance of staying in control for competitive athletes! Thank you for your input!


This coaches sound uneducated. Have they seen your daughter go low? I would get a note from your Endocrinologist stating your daughter has to check her BG every hour, or whatever you feel is appropriate. I would also have a talk with the coach and teach him about dealing with lows, and Type 1 Diabetes. I really think a good coach is going to be interested in the reasons their athletes are or are not performing to the best of their ability.

I run a lot of distance and swim. I check my BG every hour. I disconnect 1 hour before my work outs and keep my Basal very low (40%) for one hour after my work out.

Hope this was helpful, good luck!