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Swimming in Swiss Lakes and Rivers

Summer has arrived and the weather is warm enough to make Swiss people flock to the various rivers and lakes for a refreshing swim. Swimming in lakes and rivers is one of most popular (and definitely cheapest) pastimes here in Switzerland.

Swiss swimmers can choose between ice cold mountain lakes, several bigger rivers, some creeks, and quite a number of large lakes (e.g. Lake Zurich, Lake Geneva, Lake Constance). Switzerland has no sea coast but in my opinion the lakes definitely make up for it. And fresh water is so much more refreshing than salt water!

Swiss Paradise - daniel stricker  /
Here in Switzerland, old and young swim in rivers and lakes. It's simply part of growing up and living here. There are also several public swimming events on Swiss lakes. The most famous is probably the crossing of Lake Zurich that takes place every year where hundreds of people swim together across the lake. This years event will take place on July 3rd 2019.

So, if you are in Switzerland you should not hesitate to adopt the habit of swimming in the different bodies of water that are always around the corner. You'll fit right in! Current water temperatures of lakes, rivers and pools can be checked on Wie warm? (= How warm?). However, even if you are a good swimmer you should pay attention to the following rules and laws.

Rules for Swimming in Lakes and Rivers in Switzerland and elsewhere

Swimming in Lakes and Rivers:
  • Never leave small children unobserved near the water! They are still unaware of the dangers the water might pose.
  • Don't swim drunk or on drugs!
  • Don't swim with a full stomach or on an empty stomach.
  • If you're hot don't jump into the water without rinsing first. Your body needs some time to adjust to the cooler temperature of the water!
  • Don't jump into murky or unknown waters. You never know what might be in there!
  • Do not swim long distances on your own. Even the best swimmers need help sometimes!
  • Don't stay in cold water too long. Cold water may cause muscle cramps and hypothermia.
  • NEVER swim during thunderstorms! Lightning is very dangerous!
Swimming in Lakes:
  • Swimming in lakes is recommended in the shore area (max. 150m from the shore). The shore are is the only area where the use of various floatation devices (e.g. pool noodles, water rings, etc.) is allowed. 
  • You may swim in the middle of a lake (more than 150m from the shore) but it is recommended to do so only if accompanied by a boat. If you are on your own motor boats might not see you and run into you. Also if something happens there is no help nearby.
Swimming in Rivers:
  • Get ready to leave the river and choose a spot to get out. Sometimes it takes more than one try to leave the water in a river!
Swimming - Stephanie Hofschlaeger  /

More tips concerning swimming in lakes and rivers can be found on the website of the Swiss Life Guard Association.



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