Swimmers across the North are running into problems swimming in the rivers, lakes, and seas: the Dutch Rescue Service had to retrieve over 1,200 people from various bodies of water over the past week.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Leeuwarder Courant, the rescue services have never seen waterways become this busy before, nor have they seen so many people in need of rescuing. The Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch authority for water) has made it known that it has plans in place to better educate wild swimmers.
Various campaigns have been lined up, as both the Dutch Rescue Service and the Rijkswaterstaat would like to focus attention on swimmers in places such as the North Sea and in the various inland lakes and bodies of water. On Monday, the Dutch Rescue Service is launching a poster advertising campaign in various languages to educate swimmers about the risks they may be taking.
The Service has noted that the hot weather in recent weeks has played a part in the growing numbers of people needing to be rescued. Sander Zeilstra, a spokesperson for the Rescue Service, told the Leeuwarder Courant, ‘Of the 1,200 incidents that required our intervention in the last week, 800 of them occurred on either Thursday or Friday, when the Netherlands was experiencing tropical temperatures.’
In several cases, swimmers found themselves in trouble after having swam too far from land and had to be returned to their starting point. However, the majority required more serious action: ‘the service performed First Aid on people who were drowning and had become unwell, and we also searched for swimmers who had gone missing in the water. We are doing what we can, but we work with volunteers, and unfortunately we cannot be in every place at once’, says Zeilstra.
The Rijkswaterstaat is also making known that the numbers of people swimming in rivers and canals is growing. ‘Rivers are not swimming pools’, said a spokesperson. According to the water authority, it is impossible to permanently supervise all riverside beaches.
Swimming is forbidden in many places, and at such locations, the main focus is on preventing people from entering the water in the first place. The Water Authority has said that it fined a number of swimmers in the last week. ‘If people swim in places that are not marked as such, we will write out a 140 euro fine.’
The Royal Dutch Lifeboat Service (KNRM) have reported on their website that lifeguards have their hands full on the Frisian Wadden Islands. There have been various minor incidents, including people falling ill on the beaches. Occasionally, they have had to pull people from the water who swam too far from shore.