Number of swimmers rescued doubled last summer

The number of swimmers assisted by lifeguards from Reddingsbrigade Nederland last swimming season (May – September) increased from 394 in 2019 to 770 in 2020. The number of people who had to be rescued from a life-threatening situation in the process rose from 68 to 164. The league speaks of a worrisome increase in swimmers who became distressed.

Reddingsbrigade Nederland reported the increase in the number of swimmers rescued (nearly doubling) in a press release. The total number of relief operations increased from 5604 to 6018 between May 1 and Sept. 22 compared to a year earlier. It is the third consecutive year that rescue crews have seen an increase in the number of rescues.

The warm spell in August, in particular, created peak traffic for rescue teams along the coast. Sunday, August 9, took the crown: a combination of offshore winds and strong currents made it difficult for all swimmers on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands. Four swimmers were killed and brigades rushed out numerous times.

Koen Breedveld, director of Reddingsbrigade Nederland, calls the rising numbers worrisome: ,,We had expected many Dutch people to come to the coast this summer. It did. The persistent heat played into that. The relief effort was designed accordingly. This year, however, we see many people coming to the beach who have little experience swimming in the sea. And thus also get into trouble. This is worrisome and demands the utmost from our caregivers.”

Digital alert system

Breedveld calls on politicians to invest more in swimming safety education so that swimmers come to beaches and recreational areas better equipped. The lifeguards of Domburg, The Hague, Noordwijk, Zandvoort and Egmond themselves pleaded last week in the AD for a digital warning system along the Dutch coast. Beachgoers should get up-to-date info on weather, wind and bathing water via digital matrix boards. They also advocate for a dedicated app.

Director Breedveld speaks of good ideas. This month he will sit down with all the rescue teams to evaluate the season. That should later result in a plan of action to reduce the number of swimmers getting into trouble.

Reddingsbrigade Nederland has 157 member rescue brigades with a total of 23,000 members, of which some 2,750 well-trained volunteers are active as lifeguards on beaches, inland waters and in swimming pools.