Zurich: 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.
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.
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.