Almost half of 10 year old kids (45%) can not swim safely because many schools have no access or only limited access to nearby pools. In the 1990s about 90% of all Germans could swim. Two decades later it is only 70% who can swim a short distance. According to the German Lifesaving Society, Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG), only about 22% of Germans can swim properly. As a result the drowning statistics are up.
The main reason is the ongoing closure of public swimmingpools due to lack of funding or lack of staff, hence swimming lessons are often not available during school terms. Survival swimming classes are harder to find than mermaid courses.
Many refugees have never learned to swim in their homeland. The Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG) fears more swimming accidents. "There will probably be more such accidents this year than last year," says DLRG speaker Martin Holzhause.
The problem must be urgently addressed. Refugees often overestimated their abilities and underestimated the dangers in unknown waters. In 2015 alone 27 refugees drowned.
DLRG has summarized its water safety rules in 30 languages, with short versions in German, English, French and Arabic. They also take these to refugee homes.
Swimming courses are offered but the capacities of the swimming pools are limited and there are already waiting lists for swimming courses.
Many swimming pool managers are not acquainted with the modest swimwear traditions of refugees.