Long stretch in swimming

It has been recommended that I get an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) because tests show i have a mutation sometimes associated with  "Brugada syndrome" but not actual Brugada syndrome.

("Brugada syndrome (BrS) is a genetic disorder in which the electrical activity within the heart is abnormal. It increases the risk of abnormal heart rhythms and sudden cardiac death.")

SWIMMING:  I swim in a 25m pool at least 5 days a week usually for 60-80 minutes (between 1500-2500m) freestyle and a tiny bit of backstroke for warm up and warm down.   Mostly it is robust sprints and distance (300's, 200's, and 100's, 50's and 25's) with a small pick up group of experienced swimmers. 

Wondering about instances of ICD  leads pulled out from the long stretch that the proper free style stroke is suppose to be.

If I can determine that I can return to full swimming within 2-4 months, and that the ICD will not transform me  into a fragile delicate person who is afraid to move,  then I will most likely get the ICD sooner than later as per Dr.s advice.

I was also wondering about possibility of a swimmer passing out from a defibrillator shock while swimming?

Would I need to now inform everyone, e.g lifegaurds,  everywhere I go that I have an ICD? 

Also how does swimming hard effect where they place it and how they adjust it to recognize fast rises in heart beat that comes from sprinting sets? 

THANK-YOU IN ADVANCE for anything you see/respond with. 



Swimming every day

by Snake - 2019-01-20 16:53:12

Hi zebrashadow,

I had my pacemaker put in 2 years ago. I started swimming again after 2 weeks, although I used only 1 arm the first 6 weeks.

After that I am swimming full speed again, 7 days per week. Everyday 1500m in about 25 minutes (free style stroke)

The leads are still fine and I never passed out.

So there is hope :-)


by zebrashadow - 2019-01-20 19:26:50

May I ask, is there a reason, related to the ICD,  that you do not do backstroke? 


by Jimmy Dinfla - 2019-01-20 19:30:32

I am a recreational swimmer.  The EP who implanted my ICD asked that I defer swimming until the leads and ICD were settled.  He was concerned about repetitive arm movements so rowing and doing hanging chin-ups were also no-no exercises.  Highly recommend discussing with the EP who actually does your implant because there are several variables to consider.    Also ask about getting a shock while swimming.  I don't worry about it, although I decided to stop scuba diving.  I am comfortable snorkeling in open water with my wife while wearing a swimmer's vest.

Informing people - if you want to, that is your decision--but there is no requirement to do so, unless you are registered in a competitive event, then I would inform them when you register.  There may be event insurance considerations.

You will recover with some time.  The ICD is a protective device that helps you live a rewarding life -- so go for it!


by Jimmy Dinfla - 2019-01-20 20:33:38

I have had an ICD implanted in my left chest, above the pectoral muscle for 19 months.  There are various locations that an ICD may be implanted and it could have more than one lead.  An ICD is larger than a pacemaker.  I have never been shocked. Recommend talking to your EP about placement in view of your very active swimming.

My recovery time was about six months.  I got the OK to row, raft and canoe at 19 months. My EP still discourages lots of repetitive motion.  Swimming was fine after six months, but I don't do intensive strokes or go long duration. I also have to be careful at high altitudes.

Recreational swimming includes swimming in my pool and ocean swimming and snorkeling.  I do not do the intensity of your sport.  That's why I recommended discussing this with your implanting EP who will know what is best for your circumstance.

I wish you the best!



by Claracluck - 2019-01-21 05:44:19

I am interested in the answers here .I had an ICD fitted march 2018 and would like to go back to swimming when I get my driving licence back ! Wouldn't like to swim outdoors in UK at the mo! I wondered whether to tell pool attendants as well but thought I might get an engraved  ID bracelet to wear just in case .


by zebrashadow - 2019-01-21 10:58:49

Is the driver's licence issue related to the ICD?

Not about swimming

by Gotrhythm - 2019-01-21 16:26:03

Don't know much about swimming but one sentence in your post stood out to me;

If I can determine that I can return to swimming within 2-4 months, and the ICD will not transform me into a fragile delicate person who is afraid to move ... (emphasis added.)

You are ascribing far more power to an ICD than the device has. An ICD is just a man made device. Whether you become a "fragile delicate person afraid to move" is up to you.

When it comes to living with some kind of cardiac-assist device, attitude is everything. If you are determined to live, really live, everyday that you are given, that is most likely what will happen.

Driving licence

by Claracluck - 2019-01-22 19:06:43

Yep applied too early first time thought I'd apply within the six month criteria in UK because it takes along time but came back a week before deadline and was denied ! Have reapplied  three months ago still waiting.but glad to be still here to do it .sometimes drive my sit on mower to keep my hand in 😀

You know you're wired when...

You have a $50,000 chest.

Member Quotes

I had a pacemaker when I was 11. I never once thought I wasn't a 'normal kid' nor was I ever treated differently because of it. I could do everything all my friends were doing; I just happened to have a battery attached to my heart to help it work.