One physical activity that is universally revered here in Switzerland is swimming. Indoor pools (in winter), outdoor pools, rivers and lakes (in summer) are always crowded with swimmers. And the Swiss expect that if you use swimming areas you are water safe. That is why at both the local and international schools, swimming is apart of the regular school curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten through grade 5. Lessons are a part of the school day - not a separate extra curricular activity. This commitment shows that the Swiss expect their populous to know how to swim.
All this being said, lifeguards are available in some swim areas, sometimes, but they are not guaranteed. Most pools and many lake/river beaches have a "swim at your own risk" approach to allowing access to water without employing lifeguards. Since this is not a litigious society, the populous is afforded certain freedoms but are expected to take responsibility for their actions. What a novel concept!
We frequent the local Schwimmbad (swimming pool) where they expect that you can swim good*. (I know, not the best grammar. The word, *well, would be better but not as funny of a juxtaposition to the bad in the German word, Schwimmbad.)
Signs clearly stating that you need to "keep an eye on children" are posted all over the facility. Granted they are in Deutsch, but the picture explains it all.
And signs showing what is the proper way to enter the pool in a given area are also clearly posted and language requirements are avoided.
While there are no lifeguards on duty, there is an "office" where a few attendants (all wearing YELLOW shirts, not red) hang out. They occasionally walk through and among the pools (once every half hour or so), but never sit and watch swimmers. They seem to be mostly concerned with whether you have food/drink in the wrong areas.
Despite taking lessons when she was younger, Maureen had a bad experience while at a swimming pool in Tucson several years ago and has avoided swimming ever since. Moving to Switzerland and embracing the lifestyle has caused her to confront her fears. I am happy to say that she is taking a weekly 'refresher' swim course so she can get her swimming mojo back - taught by an instructor who only speaks Schweizerdeutsch! Hopefully next summer she will be joining Joe and I on our paddle boards on Lake Zug:
|Slow and steady keeps Bridget on top of the board instead of in the lake!|
Today's poem is dedicated to my brave swimmer, Maureen:
her steady breathing
are the only
the liquid blue.
Back and forth.
Up and back.
She is swimming.
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.