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SWIMMING

Rhine swimmer cuts short ‘impossible’ quest

Ernst Bromeis, the Swiss swimmer who set out to swim the length of the Rhine, has given up his quest after about 400 kilometres due to health concerns.

Rhine swimmer cuts short 'impossible' quest
PHOTOPRESS/Schweiz Tourismus/Andrea Badrutt

The journey, which started at the source of the Rhine in Tomasee in the canton of Graubünden almost two weeks ago, would have taken the swimmer along 1,230 kilometres of river to its mouth by the North Sea near Hoek van Holland.

The project, which was being sponsored by Swiss Tourism, proved more challenging than Bromeis first realized.

At the very start, Bromeis was confronted with metre-thick ice to swim through. He was also hailed on once, and had to resort to travelling by kayak more often than he had intended.

“I prepared well for this project with the basic information available to me,” Bromeis said in a statement.

“I was sufficiently fit, and my experience from swimming in Swiss lakes gave me reason to be justifiably optimistic. Swimming the complete river became impossible in the end due to the changed general conditions.”

In the end, the sheer exhaustion from swimming in such freezing temperatures proved too much.

Bromeis’s efforts were intended to highlight the importance of water as a natural resource that should be treasured. He also wanted to draw attention to Switzerland’s many places of natural beauty in what is being called the Year of Water.

See also: Why I’m swimming the length of the Rhine

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SWIMMING

How to keep safe when swimming in Switzerland’s lakes and rivers

Switzerland is blessed with a huge variety of lakes and rivers that are perfect for bathing in. But with a number of fatal incidents already hitting the news this summer, we look at the best way to swim in safety.

How to keep safe when swimming in Switzerland's lakes and rivers
File photo: Depositphotos
Following the tragic death of Swiss footballer Florijana Ismaili in Lake Como, Italy, and the deaths of two men in separate incidents this week – one in Wohlen lake in canton Bern, and another in Hallwil lake in Aargau – it’s only too clear how quickly a swim in the great outdoors can go wrong. 
 
The Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) is one of the bodies in Switzerland working to prevent swimming accidents. According to them, there are a few simple rules which should be followed to help keep you safe in the water. 
 
Supervise children
 
Swimming with little ones? Only allow children near water if they are supervised – and always keep them within arm’s reach.
 
Avoid alcohol
 
Never go into the water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should also avoid swimming if you have a full stomach, or indeed a very empty stomach. 
 
Go slow
 
Never jump into the water if you’re feeling overheated. As much as you’re desperate to cool down, get in slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the water and avoid cold water shock, a potentially fatal condition. 
 
Avoid the unknown
 
Don’t dive into cloudy water or in an area of the lake that you don’t know. It might not be deep enough, or there may be obstacles or other hidden dangers.
 
Leave the airbed on shore
 
If you’re heading into deep water, don’t use an airbed or swimming aid, since they offer little protection and might give you a false sense of security. 
 
Swim with a friend
 
You may consider yourself a strong swimmer, but it’s best to never swim long distances alone. Even the best swimmers can experience a moment of weakness. 
 
Keep an eye on the weather
 
Don’t ever swim in a storm, and leave the water immediately if you see one approaching. Many Swiss lakes have a warning system of flashing lights to indicate that you should get off the water straight away.
 
Stick to designated areas
 
Don’t go swimming in areas of a lake where there are boats, ferries or other vehicles – it’s best to stick to the designated swimming areas.
 
If you stick to the rules and use common sense, there's no reason why you can't enjoy the wonderful array of places to swim in Switzerland this summer, whether it be a drift down the Aare river, a dip in Lake Geneva or a swim off the rocks in the beautiful Verzasca valley. 
 
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