Pump cartridges and swimming

I've been swimming with my pump (Animas Ping) for about the past month. I've also been having super high blood sugar pretty regularly. Usually at least once a day I will test after a meal and be 17-24 (300-400+) on a random basis, almost like I missed a bolus except that I didn't. I limit most of my meals to 20-30g of carbohydrates, so it's not like I'm usually eating crazy stuff.

I've noticed the past few times I've changed cartridges (when my pump is empty) that the cartridge smells very strongly of insulin and has moisture around the outside. I wonder if swimming could do something that makes the cartridges leak? Either that or maybe it's a wonky package of cartridges. Could it be some problem with the pump itself? I've never swum with my pump before, so I have no idea if swimming could affect it like that.

I also thought maybe the water was just pool water, but again, I don't know. If the cartridges are leaking intermittently it would certainly explain some of my highs (but I know the pump is working because I also have good blood sugars as well as lows). My blood sugars tend to be crazy regularly anyway, so maybe it's all just changing seasons/hormones/activity levels, too.

Call Animas support & ask them what they think. Your cartridge black rubber cap could be old, they do say to change it every 6 months,

Hmm, I've had my pump for over a year and a half so definitely more than six months! I'll give them a call tomorrow and see what they think.


Are you getting water in the cartridge cavity in your pump? Can you tell if that place is wet with pool water? If you are, it seems to me that there is something with the O-rings on the cartridge are leaking a bit. I agree with Annabella that you should call Animas and discuss this with an engineer, not someone at the help desk. (The help disk people are trained to tell you that it is your problem!)

For what it is worth, I use a lot of O-rings in the rebuilding of hydraulic systems. I find those supplied by Caterpillar are superior to the rest of them. Maybe I need to try those on the cartridge and see if they fit a little tighter.

Be well.

Brian Wittman

I went swimming tonight after changing my cartridge, and when I checked after swimming there was water (or insulin?) on the outside of the cartridge. It's hard to tell if it's pool water or insulin because it smells like insulin, but then it may also be chlorine I'm smelling. I dried it off and will check in the morning to see if it's wet again (if it is, then ti's insulin). I will definitely give Animas a call tomorrow, because whether it's water or insulin I don't think that should be happening!

If u swim with it, u need to change the o rings every month.
I had the predecessor to the ping and it leaked every time i swam. it also developed tiny cracks which i think may have caused it.

Also the pressure from the water can cause insulin to back up past the cartridge seal, if there isn't a perfect seal. I would get air in the line after I swam from this and I would have highs when the bubbles would reach my body cause i was getting less insulin, but when I looked at it it seemed fine because the bubbles were gone. After I started to examine it closely after swimming I could see it happening.

I was never able to get it totally sealed and when i would try to tighten everything better, the cracks would grow and the problem would get worse.
They replaced my pump a few times but I just learned to disconnect for swimming, and I still do that now.

I dont even have a waterproof pump now and I manage fine.

I think it's pool water....Just taste it...mystery solved....

If you have any kind of fluid inside your pump call tech support it's not long before it's going to fail...sorry

Stop swimming with your pump, it's unlikely you need the pump you can make up basal when you stop...you have basal on board when you disconnect, you can enjoy your swim and not worry about your pump.

When I had a Cozmo I used to disconnect when swimming (I had an incident where the pump failed immediately upon getting it wet and was scared to get it wet after that). I could NOT figure out my blood sugar. I would either bolus to cover basal ahead of time and go low after 30 minutes, or I'd wait and do it after I got out and go extremely high with large ketones and feel terrible. I had an easier time managing swimming on shots than with disconnecting the pump. With shots I would just get my blood sugar high before starting so that it would come down as I swam ... not ideal.

This time around staying connected I've figured out how to start and end my swim with a normal blood sugar. I've never been able to do this before with swimming. I don't reduce basal at all and have to do an additional bolus immediately after finishing, even if I'm on the low side. Without that bolus, my blood sugar shoots up.

I'll give Animas a call and see what they say, and stop swimming with this pump for now. I sure hope "don't swim with the pump" is not their permanent solution, though!


I am curious to know what you learned from Animas concerning your water in the pump, or pump in the water issue.

What did they tell you?

Brian Wittman

According to the lady I spoke with at Animas (and it wasn't one of the regular technical support people, they got someone else to call me back), it's normal for the inside of the cartridge compartment to get wet with prolonged exposures to water. It's not normal for any other part of the pump (battery compartment, etc.) to get wet, though. The lady also said if the inside of the cartridge compartment gets wet from just brief exposures to water (like showering), that this isn't normal. This doesn't happen for me—it's only swimming for 45-60+ minutes that I notice it.

My pump is under warranty, so she said if I notice the battery compartment getting wet, or the cartridge compartment starts getting wet from brief exposures and/or starts staying wet for days even after drying it out, or I notice any cracks or corrosion, they will replace the pump.

I haven't been swimming in a few weeks due to the holidays, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye on things when I start up again.

Hi Jen, very interesting to read about risk that cartridges leak. I have never heard about this. I am a swimmer (long time since competing) but I use to take off my pump when I am swimming because I am afraid of loosing the function in the pump if I go into water with the pump (even if Medtronics says I can swim with it). I have swim wears with integrated pocket to wear the insulin pump but I use to change quick to another swim pairs when I jump into water. I know a friend here in Sweden who swim with the pump in the swim wear with pocket for insulin pump and I have to check with her if she have felt the same problem as you are asking for, interesting. Good Luck from Sweden :)

I do the same way as you describe when I am swimming.