Rescue brigade concerned about decreasing swimming skills

A KNRM rescue boat (Picture: Twitter/@KNRM)A KNRM rescue boat (Picture: Twitter/@KNRM)

The Dutch Rescue Brigade is extra busy this year with helping swimmers who get into trouble. In the hot period between July 2nd and August 5th, the rescue brigade responded to help swimmers 3,259 times, compared to 3,800 times in the entire summer of 2017. Director Koen Breedveld blames this mainly on decreasing swimming skills, he said to newspaper AD.

"We're having a hot summer. We notice that unfortunately. Two or three people drown every weekend. In the sea, in recreational lakes, in rivers, swimming pools and ponds. Unnecessary", Breedveld said to the newspaper. "The awareness of risks and responsibility is apparently inadequate in swimmers. That must and can be different. No summer's day should be ruined by another tragic accident."

Better and well-understandable education is desperately needed for swimmers, Breedveld said. The quality of supervision must also improve, and people must be better taught how to help other swimmers in trouble. 

The SP repeatedly warned the government about declining swimming skills, parliamentarian Michiel van Nispen said to the newspaper. "Important factors are newcomers [immigrants] who hardly know how to swim, the diminishing motor skills of children, the drop in pool attendance and the drop in school swimming", Van Nispen said. The party wants school swimming to return and more supervision in recreational areas. "Especially in areas where many people swim, there must be good supervision."

Figures about the number of drownings last year will be released next week. In 2016 a total of 86 people drowned in the Netherlands. Many of them were children with a non-western background.