Berlin’s river deemed “excellent” for swimming

Organisers want to open the Spree Canal permanently for public use and transform the area into an urban hub

A record number of participants have swum in the Spree River, Berlin at the Fourth Flussbad Cup as the city celebrated the yearly open use of the Spree Canal.

Over 500 people attended the event, organised by the non-profit Flussbad (river swimming pool) Berlin Association, which lets people swim a stretch of the Spree. The association hopes it will become Berlin’s river bathing area in the future.

“The number of participants in this year’s Flussbad Cup more than doubled in comparison to our previous event,” said Jan Edler, Chairman of the non-profit Flussbad Berlin Association. “This increase underscores the fact that support is growing among Berliners for the Flussbad.”

Both the German Federal Government and the State of Berlin support the Flussbad project to open the Spree Canal permanently for public use and transform the area into an urban hub.

While the project is important for raising awareness of water pollution, Edler believes it is part of a wider movement to champion urban rivers as valuable resources.

“We are an urban development project that originated as a civil society initiative, and our goal has always been to win back the Spree Canal and eventually the entire inner-city Spree River as a natural resource that can be used and enjoyed by all urban dwellers.”

Closed to swimmers since 1925 after increasing pollution, the Spree River has this year been declared “excellent” by water officials allowing 168 competitive and 342 recreational swimmers to take part.

This year’s event was the last to be financed by the National Urban Development Projects funding programme, but talks are being held with potential supporters to ensure the future of the event. Edler is confident the realisation of the Flussbad project is secure.

“After this year’s cup, there can be no doubt that a solid foundation for the realisation of the project has been laid. At this point, the question is no longer whether the project will be implemented, but when.”