What you need to know when swimming in nature
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The weather is nice in the Netherlands. People like to take a dip in the water to cool off. If you are going swimming too, pay close attention to the risks of swimming in natural water.
Different places to swim
In the Netherlands there are many different places where you can swim in the summer. If you want to swim too, only do so if you are able to swim. It is also important to swim in places where water quality and safety are taken care of. Some waters are not clean or are dangerous to swim in.
You can read information here about the types of natural waters and the risks to watch out for.
Only go into the water if you can swim. As there is a lot of water in the Netherlands, Dutch children get swimming lessons at an early age. Most Dutch children and adults have a swimming certificate. This puts them at less risk of accidents in the water.
If you would also like to learn to swim, check out the 'Zwemmen in Nederland' (swimming in the Netherlands) page on RefugeeHelp
Strong current in the sea
There are riptides in the sea. A riptide is a strong current in the sea and this can be dangerous.
Do not try to swim against the strong current of a riptide. It is almost impossible and you will only get exhausted. Go sideways, level with the shore, with the current until you feel the current weaken.
Riptides are hard to spot. But you can look out for a few things, such as:
Fewer high waves can be seen in one particular spot in the sea
At one spot in the sea there appears to be a stretch of deep water with a shallower stretch in between
There are also undercurrents or upper currents in the sea. These are the hazards:
An undercurrent can quickly pull you away from shore, toward the open sea. Swimming back is difficult. You quickly become exhausted.
An upper current can also drift you away from shore, but less strongly than undercurrent. An upper current can drive you toward objects or boats, increasing the risk of collision.
Again, try not to swim against the current. Try to swim sideways to the shore.
Boats in rivers and canals
In rivers and canals, there are large boats that pose a risk to swimmers. Large boats often struggle to see swimmers. Also, boats cause strong currents. The water is pushed away and comes back with force, which can carry you away.
Jumping from a bridge into a canal or river is also dangerous. It is difficult to see how deep it is in the murky water and there may be things on the bottom.
The reddingsbrigade (rescue team) is an organisation dedicated to water safety and emergency response to accidents. The rescue team has produced a leaflet explaining the dangers of swimming in nature. It also includes an explanation of the colours of the flags you see on the beach.