Does cold water discourage children?

Bad Nenndorf Many children find it difficult to swim in deep water for the first time, but having to do so in cold water is even worse.

The German Life Saving Association in Bad Nenndorf has warned that due to the energy crisis and gas shortages, some swimming pools have already lowered temperatures or even closed completely. What worries lifeguards about fall and winter: Will the number of non-swimmers increase in the future — again?

Low water temperature becomes a pleasant brake

From an economic point of view, lower water temperature in swimming pools is understandable, said Christopher Dolls, a spokesman for the DLRG. BUT: For swimming sessions, a water temperature of 26 degrees should be the goal, which does not stand in the way of beginner swimming training. Some children may take longer to learn to swim because they are cold and need more time. Olympic champion Florian Willbrook warned: “How do you want to teach a five or six-year-old that he has to go to the deep end and enjoy learning to swim? In my opinion, that is not possible.”

According to the DLRG, if the water temperature drops below 26 degrees, other training concepts are necessary – with less time in the water. But it will take longer for children to learn to swim – but cold water is better than an enclosed bath. But all this applies only to beginner swimming training, Dolls said: “We don’t need to talk about swimming for kids or getting used to the water here, that is of course unimaginable – the temperature should be at least 30 degrees and more.” Even at a temperature The water temperature is below 35, the body begins to cool slowly.

The bathrooms want the temperature down to a maximum of 26 degrees

Pool Alliance Germany, an association of industry stakeholders, submitted a position paper to the federal government in mid-July. In it, she advocated a gradual response to the lack of energy – first to do without “high-temperature outdoor swimming pools”, then to use only sports and teaching pools and finally to reduce the temperature there to a maximum of 26 degrees.

The German Olympic Sports Federation recently called on nearly 90,000 sports clubs in Germany to save at least 20% energy in the coming months. This should prevent the closure of swimming pools and sports facilities. So it became uncomfortable for swimmers in many pools: cities such as Hanover, Munich, Aachen and Cuxhaven depend on cold water.

Many 10-year-olds aren’t confident swimmers

The problem: The proportion of non-swimmers is high, according to the DLRG, even before the corona pandemic with swimming pools closed, only about 40 percent of 10-year-olds were safe swimmers. “We’re assuming there’s nothing more today,” Dulles cautioned. This can be seen from the number of swimming badges removed. In 2020, pool rim coaches had nearly 75 per cent fewer tests than the year before – after 92,913 the number dropped to 23,458. Last year the number rose again to 38,112 down to 14,566 from 46,958 the year before. In 2021 there were 36,368 seahorses.

Dolls spoke of a “training backlog” that was by no means curtailed, despite the launch of an additional 2,000 courses. But the same applies here: if the swimming pools are closed and there is a shortage of water, the additional courses offered are of little use. Additionally, our lifeguards are not trained or able to train during this time. “We see water security in Germany in grave danger,” DLRG chief Ute Vogt said on Wednesday in a statement marking a temporary assessment by lifeguards of bathing deaths at the end of summer in Germany.

Accordingly, the number of fatal swimming accidents since the beginning of the year until the end of August nationwide increased by 44 deaths to 289 deaths compared to the same period last year. This number is close to the number of cases in the whole of 2021. In that time, 299 people died while taking a shower. DLRG attributes the increase to the hot summer period, when many people sought cooling in rivers, lakes, or in the North and Baltic Seas. According to lifeguards, most of the fatal swimming accidents occurred in unsafe waters. On the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, where there are also many water rescue stations, the number of swimmers decreased by the end of summer compared to 2021.

Expect higher ticket prices

In addition, the prices of swimming pools are likely to rise. To what extent this can also be expected for swimming courses would be a “look at the crystal ball,” Dolls said. Nearly 2,000 local divisions of the DLRG organize their own swimming courses, some of which have long-term leases with pool operators. These are expected to raise ticket prices in the future, but it is questionable whether this can be carried over to the clubs. The highest currently known price to pay for a pool pass rental is around €75.

In an extreme swimming pool shutdown, the spokesperson said, it’s not easy to keep parents and children excited about swimming. But parents and children can do a lot on their own – and start getting used to the water at home in the bath or shower.

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