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South Africans in Germany

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Swimming in Germany

Swimming options

Private swimming pools are not so popular in Germany, but there are good public swimming options available.

  • Public swimming pools / Öffentliche Schimmbäder / Freibad
  • Freiseitparks like Europapark
  • Baggersee (Man-made lakes)
  • Lakes
  • The ocean / Nordsee or Ostsee

Rules for swimming in Lakes

  1. Never dive/jump into a lake without knowing the depth of the water first. Many lakes are quite shallow, especially near the shore.
  2. Bring a sun umbrella or some form of shelter, and of course sunscreen.
  3. Bring swimming shoes or flip-flops, to avoid stepping on broken glass or other sharp objects that may be there.
  4. Don’t stay in the water too long. Children sometimes don’t realise how cold they are and lakes may remain quite cool, even in summer. 
  5. Bring plenty of towels to dry off after your swim. 
  6. Bring warm clothes for after your swim
  7. Bring a picnic, some lakes have benches and tables, but not all do, so bring a big blanket to sit on. Toilets are often available near the lakes. Food stalls sometimes have ice cream or snacks. Just be careful, sweets, drinks, beer, etc. attract insects (bees and wasps) 
  8.  Most facilities will allow smoking and alcoholic drinks, check for signs prohibiting.
  9. Some lakes do have currents and undertows – don’t overestimate your ability, stay close to shore if you are not a strong swimmer.
  10. Careful with floating mattresses, toys, etc. Water toys do not keep children as safe as watchful eyes!
  11. Be careful with your alcohol intake.
  12. WATCH YOUR KIDS – many lakes do not have lifeguards patrolling the area. Your kids are your own responsibility!
  13. In an emergency call the national emergency number –  112

Tidbits to know

  • Nude sunbathing is allowed in some areas around lakes Look out for FKK (Freie Körper Kultur) Zone.
  • At public pools swimwear is obligatory
  • Freibad does not mean for free
  • Sommerbad means it is only open in the summer
  • Bring coins with to public pools to make use of the lockers
  • Some public pool facilities have hair dryers that you can use (not free)
  • You are expected to shower before and after using a public pool
  • Wear swimming shoes or flip flops at the pool
  • Public pools are mostly overcrowded. Opt for indoor pools in summer if you only want to swim
  • Some areas in pools are restricted to those who cannot swim, for example children still learning to swim
  • No toys are allowed in public pools
  • Food and drinks can be bought at most public pools
  • The ground of the grass areas around lakes are usually a bit damp, so if you take a picnic blanket make sure it is lined. (Picknickdecke Wasserdicht)

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Emergency Contacts

The following numbers can be dialed in an emergency, either from a landline or mobile phone. 112 The national emergency number. This can be used