Research and Development

Swimming-Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE) is a condition where fluid builds up in the lungs during or after swimming. This can occur, especially during a long strenuous swim like the Rottnest Channel Swim, and may lead to symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or a feeling of chest tightness. What makes SIPE so dangerous is that when the lung is filled with fluid, gas exchange in the lungs cannot occur, and the body becomes starved of oxygen. The good news is that most swimmers experiencing SIPE fully recover within 24-48 hours. However, there are cases where individuals undergo rapid deterioration even after rest or exiting the water.

While SIPE appears to be rare (very few documented cases), UWA suspects that cases are underreported. This is largely due to the fact that symptoms are easily ignored, with swimmers tending to shrug it off as part of the challenge or doing an open water swim.

UWA’s research project aims to investigate the true incidence of pulmonary edema in solo swimmers, and this cannot be achieved without your help.


If you’re over 18, not pregnant, and registered for the Rottnest Channel Swim (RCS), UWA invites you to be part of a significant project conducted by the University of Western Australia in collaboration with the Rottnest Swim Association.


This study aims to survey the incidence of Swimming-Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE) in both competitive and community-based marathon swimming events, specifically the RCS.

Your Involvement

After completing your solo crossing, a short visit to our data collection tent awaits you. UWA will conduct a quick medical check, including questions about any race-day symptoms, along with assessments of body weight, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, a lung ultrasound, and a respiratory function test—only taking about 10 minutes. Some participants may be randomly selected for a 20-minute targeted heart scan (echocardiogram). In case of concerns or symptoms, UWA will promptly refer you to the medical tent next to the finishing line.

Your Privacy

Voluntary Participation and Withdrawal: Participation is entirely voluntary, and you’re free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason. If you’re associated with the investigation team, such as UWA students and staff, participation is not mandatory, and your rights won’t be compromised whether you decide to participate or not. If you withdraw, UWA may seek permission to retain your recorded data; otherwise, it will be destroyed.

Study Benefits

Participating may enhance your understanding of health risks in marathon swimming events. Outcomes could contribute to SIPE and hypothermia understanding, helping individuals prepare and mitigate these risks. If you’d like a report of your results or an overview of the study, email Dr. Nat Benjanuvatra.

Study Risks and Possible Side-Effects

While minimal risks are associated, you should be aware of potential discomfort during testing. Blood pressure assessment may cause slight discomfort, and the lung function test may involve a nose clip and requires blowing into a mouthpiece. Ultrasound assessments are non-invasive but may cause slight discomfort due to pressure on the skin. Identifying previously undiagnosed abnormalities is a possibility, and if relevant, UWA will guide you to follow up with your GP.


For participation or inquiries, please contact the study researchers:

Dr Nat Benjanuvatra UWA School of Human Sciences,

Dr Grant Landers UWA School of Human Sciences,

Associate Professor Louise Naylor UWA School of Human Sciences,

Associate Professor Chris Judkins Mount Hospital,

Dr Angela Spence Curtin University School of Health Sciences,

Dr Sebastian Knusden Royal Perth Hospital,

Ms Julie Collis UWA School of Human Sciences,

Dr Michael Musk Fiona Stanley Hospital,