Surfing with a CGM?

Hi all, just discovered the site and it looks cool.

I was wondering if there were any other diabetic surfers or perhaps CGM experts who may offer some advice on this:

I have a enlite sensor (Medtronic 530g system), but was disappointed with its accuracy, bad calibrations, alarms, etc. I thought maybe it was the system so I dropped it for a long time, just using the pump instead. But I was doing some reading and it turns out I was probably just doing a really lackluster job calibrating the thing. Going to give it another go, but I really want to do it right this time.

I surf as much as I can, it’s a huge priority in my life. But I am concerned about my ability to use the CGM sensor and surf at the same time–whether or not it is worth the extra hassle, overhead and risk of becoming demoralized from bad calibrations/sensor data. My questions:

  • I can be disconnected for hours at a time. A good session is 3-4 hours of heavy exercise. Disconnecting the sensor once+ per day for this long period… tenable? Do the sensors lose fidelity if they’re not continuously paired with the device?
  • I typically wear a wetsuit, which puts a small pressure on the sensor site, and the adhesive is typically saturated with seawater. I’m wondering if this would affect calibration? I don’t typically have issues with the sensor falling off or moving around a lot, at least for the first 3 days.
  • I’m concerned about saltwater damaging the sensor. I’ve probably butchered the warranty for the thing just by taking it out into the sea, but it seems to still be functional, so… would I see any problem with accuracy doing that much more consistently?



@rland, welcome to the forum!

We use the Dexcom G5, not the Enlite, but some of our experience does apply (although not all). My son is a very active teen who spends a lot of time in sports every week. For the past 2 years he swam in swim team several times a week.

  • you can disconnect the G5 sensor as long as you want as far as sensor precision. I believe this is also true of the Enlite. We would “disconnect” for 2.5 hours at a time during soccer practice and games with no trouble.

  • Saturation of the adhesive with seawater should not affect calibration. Pressure on the sensor can (the infamous “pressure low”). I am not sure if wetsuit pressure is enough, but I would say not.

  • Dexcom sensors are waterproof. I am not sure about Enlite but I would assume they are? We have worn our Dexcom sensors in salt water, including snorkeling in the Med, with no trouble.

Imho, outside of the problems inherent with the Enlite sensor, you should be fine. I would not see any problems in what you are doing with a Dexcom G5, except for the sensor moving/falling off. I will ask my son to reply directly as well, but he won’t be available for another couple of days.

Re-the Enlite sensor, many people are happy with it, but a large (and vocal…) minority finds it unreliable and imprecise.

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The salt water shouldn’t hurt your sensor system, although it would seem to be difficult to get the signal to a reader unless you are using an electronic watch and Xdrip+.

As far as staying disconnected for long periods of time, that is exactly what my son does (he plays baseball). During baseball season he changes from 100% pump basal to 50% pump basal and 50% Lantus. That way when he disconnects for 3+ hours he is able to maintain his blood sugar. Based on the amount of activity your % might be different, but the technique is still valid.

Welcome to our site btw!


@daisymae, don’t you use a medtronic 530? You probably have better info that all of us for @rland, since you spend more time in the water than any of us!

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Michel & rland

first off, my pump is a 523 Paradym Revel, but as far as its infusion site (the sticky part i wear on my tummy) has NEVER EVER come off at all.

secondly, my Dexcom CGM has never fallen off, despite swimming for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. if the sensor lasts over 7 days, i put a cover (made by Dexcom) over it to hold it down. also,before i put on the sensor, i use Skin Tac.

hope this helps a little.
daisy mae


I’m looking to solve a similar scenario. If you use an android phone already then you are completely in luck. I use an iPhone so will have to source an android phone to make this work. I’m in the process of obtaining a Sony Smart Watch 3 which I will pair to an android phone running xDrip+. Heading out for a surf I’ll make the smart watch become my primary ‘collector’ as it is referred as. BOOM hopefully that should result in the dexcom G5 working stand alone with a smart watch.

there is a good blog called travelbetic that talks about his solution. I have been trying to solve it without taking my phone into the water as would currently be required per his methods.

How to connect miaomiao with xDrip+ (phone and watch)? - YouTube this video shows you how to run the standalone watch setup. The Sony Smart Watch 3 is the only android wear smartwatch that doesnt required the software to have a patch installed. Have a look into this


Mate. You really should check out my thread for surfing with a CGM. I finally solved it today and going to trial surfing with my watch as a collector tomorrow. I’ve surfed with my G5 several times now and provided you choose a sneaky spot on your abdomen you don’t even notice it’s there. Tomorrow will be the first trial with readings


@Tim07NOV18, would you be willing to start a thread that discusses your results when surfing w a CGM?

I wish I could but unfortunately I haven’t solved it entirely yet. Despite many efforts I’m unable to hold a connection between a collector and the transmitter during a surf. I’ve tried using just the Sony Smart Watch 3 and it just can’t hold a connection or re-establish it whilst surfing.

I suspected the issue being my wetsuit top I wear whilst surfing. Being neoprene it works by holding water in the material for warming properties. I hypothesised that this was essentially putting a ‘blanket of water’ directly over the transmitter hindering bluetooth transmission. I carried out a little test at home with the neoprene top on dry and then wet. It was able to transmit which I found quite surprising. I then thought that my mobile (Samsung Galaxy S8) might have a stronger bluetooth radio so purchased a different top still of neoprene but with a stash pocket on your lower back to hold the phone. Even then surfing with the phone in such close proximity to the dexom transmitter it still wasn’t able to hold a connection from DEXCOM > PHONE > WATCH.

I haven’t completely given up yet and am adamant on solving this issue. However, bluetooth and BLE (bluetooth low energy) is essentially rendered useless for transmitting through water. Potentially the combination of duck diving, sitting on my board, laying on my board etc. could simply create too many intervals at which either the transmitter or collector is submerged in water and thus incapable.


I’ll keep you posted. Just finishing up following the steps outlined below:

Didn’t matter what I tried bluetooth just doesn’t like the ocean thus I stopped using the Dexcom system to try and solve the issue or reading sugar levels whilst surfing.

NFC however, as utilised in the Freestyle Libre system, appears has the potential to work. Check out the link to this youtube video of someone scanning a sensor not only whilst scuba diving but through a neoprene wetsuit as well (if you’re familiar with the properties of neoprene, even if she was above the water the neoprene holds the water and essentially places a water blanket over the top killing bluetooth transmission). Despite this it reads because it uses NFC over bluetooth.

So I have my sony smart watch 3 downgraded to build LCA43 with an unlock package installed to utilise the NFC chip. The only hiccup left is the recent update of Freestyle Libre sensors from the 10 day to 14 day wear time. This update has included encryption of the data and thus renders third party readers such as my watch confused. Nonetheless I will try it out on some Australian stock and see how we go. Hopefully the developers at Glimp can find a work around for the 14 day sensors.

Sorry for the huge delays, and again MANY thanks to this Forum and how helpful everyone is!


Hey rland! I am an avid surfer as well, 3/4 days a week at 2 hours plus a session. I recently have had a G6 sensor fall off during a hard fall. Because of the sensor falling off, of course, I lost my Transmitter which is a major bummer. I use the dexcom overpatch and have never had a problem before. It may have been a bit older patch because I do reset my sensors past the 10 day mark to allow for maximum days used.

I am looking into getting better grips. Right now I am looking at the SIMPATCH and LEXCAM as those reviews have talked about heavy exercise and water sports. Any advice for me or have you heard of anyone talking about grip strength for heavy water use? I surf bigger waves and can expect some beatdowns. Hope you have been scoring waves!


Hey welcome to FuD, surfing sounds great! I’ve been using skin tac liberally to help the sensor stay on. Seems to work well for the abuse I dole out to my sensors playing lots of ice hockey. I paint the underside of the sensor adhesive with skintac, let it get tacky and apply. Then I paint the skin around it including the exposed white fabric, let it get tacky, and apply overpatch. I’ve used a wide variety of over patches and they all seem OK.


Hi John! I use skin tac as well and love it, I may not be giving it enough time to dry? I think because of the intense nature of surfing and so much water moving that no air bubbles in my patches is super key to it surviving. Thank you for the reply!


Welcome @jessebenhendrix to FUD! Hope someone comes along with some good thoughts. My son didn’t surf, but he did play some intense contact sports and a GrifGrip and skintac worked wonders.


Only other thing I’ve done when the sensor needs to be secure is cut some barbell shaped patches of grif grip or similar and tape right over the sensor. Then secure that with a circular over patch.

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How about a strong wrap, like pre-wrap followed by athletic tape.

The Dex should be able to transmit through this, and if you apply it tight enough, it will stay on.

Of course, this would work better and be more comfortable if you put the Dex on your arm instead of your abdomen.