Every August, thousands of intrepid swimmers go with the flow on Rhine Swim Day.
What is Rhine Swim Day?
Rheinschwimmen is an annual event held each August in Basel where swimmers flock to the river en masse. While swimmers can enjoy a dip in the Rhine any day, Rhineschwimmen is special because you are joined by thousands of revelers who are excited to take the plunge with you. Of course, the swim is not for the timorous/inexperienced. The water is chilly and the currents are strong.
For this reason, many like to bring some extra clothes with them as they float down the river so that they have something warm to change into. Known as ‘Fish Bags,’ these large waterproof bags look like brightly colored balloons shaped like fish. You conveniently store your clothes in them and make your way down the river.
There are two Badhysli, translated as bathing huts, for swimmers to use in the Johanniterbrucke Bridge and the Breite district. Whether taking part in the festivities or watching from the side, Rheinschwimmen is one of the many fun events to enjoy in Basel!
Why Celebrate the Rhine River?
One of the many reasons the Swiss take to jumping in for a swim of the Rhine must surely be their affinity for what is lovingly described as “Father Rhine” by some locals.
As one of the longest rivers in Europe, the Rhine is home to one of the most stunning stretches in the continent. Picturesque castles, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, magnificent cities and historic towns dot the way. Some of the major cities that lie directly on the river include Basel, Strasbourg, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Utrecht and Rotterdam.
In ancient Roman times, the river was considered the boundary of the civilized world. Since then, it has been a witness to so much history. The French King Louis XIV and Napoleon attempted to annex the region west of the Rhine. Its occupation was significant between the two World Wars as well.
It has also inspired countless artists and musicians through the years with its beauty and legends such as the Lorelei Rock.
It is easy to see why the locals in Basel want to celebrate such an important river!