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Summertime Diabetes Management Routines: Swim Edition

By Karrie Hawbaker

Public Relations Manager

Posted:  7/23/2013 6:40 PM


You recently heard from some of our friends in the diabetes community who shared their tips for how to wear an insulin pump in the summertime. Today they’re back to talk about diabetes management tips when going swimming. If you’re hitting the beach, pool or lake this weekend, make sure to read on!

• If it’s a hot day and I am getting in the water, lying in the sun, or playing in the sand, I disconnect the pump and put it in a cooler or wrapped in clothing in the shade. My son, who also has diabetes, does the same thing. If my son is unclipped, every 60 minutes or so we do a BG test and briefly reconnect his pump to do a quick bolus to replenish the missing basal insulin, adjusted for exercise of course. – Jeff Myers, Medtronic employee, living with diabetes for 31 years,  talking about him and his 12-year-old son Benjamin who also has diabetes

• The insertion site where the pump clips on stays on so well even in the swimming pool. I can do the same thing at the beach. Most of the time I am running around or swimming and I don’t need any insulin anyway so that is why it works fine to disconnect my pump when I am playing. It works well doing this at the beach too- then I don’t have to worry about getting sand in the pump or anything- I just put it in my backpack and take it out if I need to give insulin. One year when we had a beach house, we just took a pump break for a week and did shots. I think it was good for me to take a break from the pump but I was glad to have it back after the vacation. It made me realize how much harder it is to take out insulin and syringes every single time I want to eat something. I can still do all of the things my friends do in the summer, I can't wait for summer vacation!! – Jack Dixon, 13 years old, living with diabetes for 8 years

• If we are going to the lake I take several reservoirs, insulin vials, pump supplies, and a couple of insulin pens (one long acting and one short acting). If we know that we are going to be swimming or on a raft for several hours, I detach my pump so it won’t get wet. For longer periods of time, I use a back-up insulin pen as directed by my doctor. – John Berry, 40 years old, living with diabetes for 8 years

• As far as swimming goes, I just remove my insulin pump, and place it in 2 dry Ziploc bags, first one, then the other, (that's my Diabetes OCD kicking in). Then I place it in a dry, waterproof lunch bag that goes in my mini cooler, (same goes for my spare pump batteries and glucose meter) which always sits under a beach umbrella or the under carriage of my friend's Baby Jogger. And then my friends watch my mini cooler while I go swimming! Wearing a pump might take a little bit more planning when it comes to fun in the sun - But it's so worth it! And this beach girl is NEVER going back to shots! Oh, one more thing: Don't forget to wear your sunscreen! Kelly Kunik, living with diabetes for 35 years

Editors note: These are personal experiences from each of the individuals based on their own diabetes management. We can’t recommend or guarantee any of the tips or the products mentioned so be sure to work with your healthcare team as you make your plans for the summer.

- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

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sf newby

Posted on Thu Jul 25 00:04:25 GMT 2013

Great read. I thought that I could only remove my pump for 30 min. That was around 16 years ago

Don Norbeck

Posted on Thu Aug 01 14:18:13 GMT 2013

While waterproofing the Pump would be great. I still disconnect while surfing but I do find it challenging for the infusion set to last more than 1/2 hour in the water especially when surfing, Lots of direct contact between the board/wetsuit/rash guard and the insertion point. So I also bring another set to the beach and do a quick change of the infusion set/only and reconnect that way no messing with insulin at the beach and I get a good new connection.


Posted on Tue Jun 03 22:13:21 GMT 2014

My 3 year old son is on the pump! we just came back from vacation where we spent a majority of our time on the beach. Like many others, the amount of activity took place of the basal he was missing out on while disconnected. I purchased a waterproof (militray grade) case to store his pump in to avoid any sand or water getting to was also big enough to hold his meter as well as my cell phone. The case is called Pelican 1050 and comes in many different sizes. :)

Jennifer Lord

Posted on Wed Jun 04 00:50:33 GMT 2014

I have a 11 year old fish. We use the small Tegaderm IV site covers in the pool, the ocean and the bay to cover the infusion set and rarely do we have a problem with them falling out. We do not use any additional IV prep or NuSkin, (We tried them all), and found Tegaderm was the best solution for our active water boy.

We use an insulated lunchbox to store the pump and spare supplies...Murphy's Law... You never know ;)


Posted on Thu Jun 05 21:13:14 GMT 2014

Thanks for sharing your swim tips with us, Sylvia and Jennifer! I’m glad to hear you’ve found solutions to keep your child’s pump and supplies dry while they’re swimming!

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