Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

Aare You Safe?

Swimming in the river Aare is a regular summer pastime of the Bernese in Switzerland. But there are occasionally mishaps. The campaign “Aare You Safe?” is intended to remind the public of the dangers of swimming in the river: not with a wagging finger but with a “cheeky wink”.

Keep an eye on yourself and on others

The goal of the campaign is to remind swimmers in an unconventional way that they carry a degree of responsibility in the water: to take care of themselves and to keep an eye on other swimmers. The campaign is run by the City of Bern, the Swiss Lifeguard Association SLRG and Bern Tourism. This year’s co-sponsors are additionally Muri council and Heinz Rub from Marzili Beach Bern.

What do you need to be careful of?

The most important rules for bathing are available in this PDF from the City of Bern website (unfortunately only in German). A list of dangerous spots along the river Aare and across the country is available on the Aquamap website.

In Bern city, the main dangers are:

  • Immediately downstream from Marzili, where the weir spans the entire river.
  • A swimming ban along the stretch of river which passes the bear enclosure at Bärengraben.
  • A range of very strong currents by the Untertor bridge, where swimmers are advised to pass through the middle arch.
  • There is also a level of danger as the river passes beneath the Untertor and Altenbergsteg bridges, as many people jump from these low bridges into the river.

A good source of information regarding water speed and temperature is available at 18°C is a good starting temperature for the less experienced river swimmer; colder than this and it’s a bit of a struggle!

New swimming bag

The campaign is being supported further by a new watertight swimming bag, with a new design and slightly smaller size than last year’s version. It costs Fr. 29 and is available from the swimming pools and Freibäder (lidos) in the city, from the tourist information offices, at the campsite in Eichholz, and the lidos in Muri, Münsingen and Belp.

(This information originally appeared on the City of Bern website in German.)

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