For months, no child in Austria has had the chance to learn the vital survival skills of swimming in a course. The reason: Quite a few indoor swimming pools in the country have closed their gates for a year.
By the beginning of November 2020 at the latest, it was time for all Austrians to “end the bath”. Unpleasant for the many swimming enthusiasts in the country, but a real disaster for thousands of children who would have learned to swim in the past few months, had it not been for Corona.
Which is why the Austrian swimming schools are now with a petition to the government: “We are approaching the high season. Parents are planning their summer vacation at a lake or by the sea and want their little ones to be safe, “says swimming school owner Ralph Hamburger from Perchtoldsdorf:” Drowning is the second most common cause of death among children in Austria. We can’t wait any longer, because survival skills are being lost here, ”he calls for the indoor pools to be opened for courses in compliance with the Corona regulations. “Working with the years that have now been lost is difficult if not impossible to make up for. There is far too little indoor water area in the country for that. And outdoor pools are only of limited use for learning to swim because of the uncertainty about the weather. “
“Swimming is a cultural asset that is being lost“
The expert sees the renewed failure of compulsory swimming at elementary schools to be particularly problematic, as the cultural asset of swimming is gradually being lost as a result of its elimination. Because even before the pandemic, the Board of Trustees for Road Safety sounded the alarm: 700,000 Austrians older than five years could not swim at the time. “According to an extrapolation, around 300,000 people in this country missed a swimming course during the Corona crisis. So we’re talking about a million non-swimmers in Austria! ”Warns Hamburger, who is also chairman of the Perchtoldsdorf water rescue service.
Shortage of water rescuers threatens
In this function, the 52-year-old points to another dramatic development: “Three rounds of the lifeguard training were canceled. The water rescue team will have a massive shortage of personnel in the summer! ”He calls for swift action from politicians:“ We want permission to start again in small groups. Of course, in compliance with all Covid-19 prevention measures, “says Hamburger. “The baths need financial support from the government so that they can also be used by a limited number of people!”
Anja Richter, Kronen Zeitung