Yes, summer season has finally arrived in central Europe! Temperatures have risen above 30 degrees and that means a) public swimming pools are overcrowded by hormone-driven teenagers and b) we can finally go swimming outside! In the climbing world we talk a lot about how „outside is different“ than climbing indoors. Actually the german alpine club (DAV) informs a lot about the differences and dangers of it. It appears sensitive to apply the same rules of preparation to swimming outdoors. So, here are the results of my research:
- Not every lake or river is fit for swimming.
> You should check for information on whether they are open for public swimming in your local newspaper or online. If there is a public swimming facility attached you can also check with them directly. The reason is that water quality can differ a lot and eventually harm you if swimming in water with lower quality. Results of swallowing low water quality can be skin irritation, stomach sickness or diarrhea.
> Watch out for the number of birds swimming in the lake, as that can affect water quality, too.
> Watch out for signs at the lake. If it is not fit for swimming, there is a high probability you will see warning signs.
> But not only water quality can harm your health, if a lake is not declared fit for swimming this could also be due to trees and other obstacles beneath the water. Sometimes lakes are misused as dumps and you could thus seriously harm yourself by cutting or getting stuck.
- Take care of your own safety.
> If the lake is very remote and not frequently visited, go with a friend to make sure there is always someone there in case you need help.
> Also don’t go into the water if you are overheated, on empty stomach or even on full stomach.
> Don’t do head start jumps or any kind of jumps into the water. There could be stones or tree stumps you cannot see. You might also have misjudged the height and thus harm yourself when hitting the water.
> If there is storm coming, leave the water as soon as possible.
- Be aware of currents.
> In most cases you will not be able to see them, especially in shallow water or quarry ponds. If you do get into a current, try swimming with the flow and then exit. Do not try to swim against the current.
> It can happen, especially when are (a little) dehydrated, that you experience cramps in your legs or arms. If you do, swim on your back and try to relax. If you cannot anymore, try to get help.