During summer, Bern locals love making their meandering way up the Aare and then drifting down it. Up and then down. What looks simple on the surface can also be quite dangerous, so swimming in a river is only recommended for very good swimmers. The following myths and mistakes should be avoided at all costs.
It’s important to have a healthy amount of respect for the Aare and inform yourself about the possible risks beforehand. Swimming in the Aare is recommended for experienced swimmers only. The Swiss Lifesaving Society SLRG and the City of Bern provide (vitally) important tips for everyone who spends time in and on the Aare.
Jumping in all at once so you won’t mind the cold…
…is a recipe for disaster. If your body is hot or sweaty from the sun, it needs time to adapt to the water temperature, otherwise the shock could be too much for it. So, instead of bravely cannon-balling it into the water, you should choose the step-by-step approach. It may not look very cool, but smart considered incredibly sexy. Trust us.
A leap into the unknown (or muddy water)...
…is even more dangerous. After all, the beauty of natural swimming spots is nature, and it sometimes presents itself in the form of rocks and other hidden objects that you won’t necessarily see at first glance. And definitely not if the water isn’t showing off in all its usual transparent turquoise glory (which can happen). So, save that swan dive for the safer setting of an outdoor pool and enter the river carefully and cautiously (see #2).
That’s it, I’m off
Since the coronavirus and social distancing arrived, we’ve become much more used to self-isolation and independence. Nevertheless, that definitely doesn’t apply to river swimming. How come? Long distances should never be swum alone – even the fittest body can suffer from cramps or fatigue.
Don’t worry, I’ve got an inflatable mattress
Inflatable mattresses and other swimming aids are a lot of fun, especially since they come in every size and shape imaginable, from air-filled pizza slices to floating drink holders (more on this in a moment). However(!), they offer NO actual security and do not belong in deep water. After all, you never know when that flamingo might suddenly run out of air.
Let’s launch that boat
Rubber rafts are certainly part of an exciting river experience. However, please be aware that a new law has been in place throughout Switzerland since 1 January 2020. Now either each person must have their own life jacket or there must be one life ring per inflatable boat. If you are new to all of this and would like more information, you can find what you need on the website of the city of Bern.
Just one more beer...
We agree, all those charming little bars that have sprung up along the Aare in recent years are very tempting. Although we would normally never ever dissuade you from visiting one of them, there is one BUT (and it is a big but): Alcohol and river swimming make a very bad combination. Better to leave the drinking until after the swimming fun is finished. Or in other words, first enjoy the water, then the beer, wine, prosecco or whatever else it may be. By the way, the same applies to another kind of indulgence: Don’t get in the water with a full stomach. But we’ve had that drummed into our heads since the first time we ever went swimming...