Learning to swim: does cold water deter children?

Because swimming pools want to heat their pools less, children have to learn to swim in colder water. The German Lifesaving Society therefore fears more non-swimmers. – © Julian Stratenschulte/dpa

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

In light of the energy crisis and lack of gas, some swimming pools have already lowered their temperatures or even closed completely, warned the German lifeguard company in Bad Nenndorf. What worries lifeguards in view of autumn and winter: Will the number of non-swimmers increase in the future – again?

Low water temperature becomes a fun brake

From an economic standpoint, the reduction in water temperature in swimming pools is understandable, said DLRG spokesman Christopher Dolz. But: For swimming courses, a water temperature of 26 degrees should be the goal, which hardly stands 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 Wellbrock already warned: “How are you going to teach a five- or six-year-old to go in the deep end and have fun learning to swim? In my opinion, it’s not possible.”

If the water temperature falls below 26 degrees, according to the DLRG, other training concepts are necessary – with less time in the water. But it will take even longer for children to learn to swim – but colder water is preferable to a closed bath. But all this applies only to the training of swimming beginners, said Dolz: “We don’t need to talk about baby swimming or getting used to the water here, of course, that would be unthinkable – it must be at least 30 degrees and more.” Even at a water temperature below 35 degrees, the body slowly starts to cool down.

Bathrooms want to lower the temperature 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 called for a step-by-step response to the energy shortage – and initially to do without “high-temperature outdoor pools”, then to use only the sports and educational pools, and finally to lower the temperature there as much as possible. at 26 degrees.

The German Olympic Sports Association recently called on the approximately 90,000 sports clubs in Germany to save at least 20 percent of energy in the coming months. This should prevent swimming pools and sports facilities from closing. It is therefore becoming uncomfortable for swimmers in many pools: Cities such as Hannover, Munich, Aachen and Cuxhaven depend on colder water.

Many ten-year-olds are not confident swimmers

The problem: The proportion of non-swimmers is high According to the DLRG, only about 40 percent of ten-year-olds were safe swimmers, even before the corona pandemic with its shutdown of the pool. “We assume there are no more today,” Dolz warned. This can be seen in the number of swim marks that have been removed. In 2020, the coaches at the edge of the pool would have taken almost 75 percent fewer tests than a year before – after 92,913, the number fell to 23,458. Last year the number rose again to 38,112 Down to 14,566 from 46,958 a year earlier. In 2021, there were 36,368 seahorses.

Dolz spoke of a “training backlog” that has been far from reduced even though 2,000 additional courses have been launched. But the same applies here: if swimming pools are closed and there is a lack of water, the extra courses offered are of little use. Lifeguard training has also been affected – this year it has sometimes been difficult to find enough lifeguards.

Higher ticket prices are expected

In addition, prices in swimming pools are likely to increase. To what extent this can also be expected for swimming lessons would be “a look into the crystal ball,” Dolz said. The approximately 2,000 local branches of the DLRG organize their own swimming lessons, and some have long-term leases with the swimming pool operators. It is to be expected that these will raise their ticket prices in the future, but it is doubtful whether this can be passed on to the clubs. The highest currently known price to be paid per hour to rent a lane in the swimming pool is around 75 euros.

In the extreme case of a swimming pool closure, it is not easy to keep parents and children excited about swimming, the spokesman said. But parents and children could do a lot themselves – and start getting used to the water at home in the bath or shower.

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Copyright © dpa/Thomas Strünkelnberg, dpa – German Press Agency 2022

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